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14th October 2013

Cornerhouse Pick of the Week: The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

Faye Broadbent discusses how cinema made philosophy fun in our Cornerhouse pick of the week

Friday night had arrived.  I guess on first thought one of the last things many students would want to do would be to spend two hours watching a philosophical documentary. However, when you find out Slavoj Zizek has been hailed as ‘The Borat of Philosophy’, it becomes instantly intriguing. So, it was time for me to rethink. Following Sophie Fiennes 2006 documentary The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, she has returned and reunited with the eccentric, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek to present the follow up, The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology.

As a slideshow with quotes from the academic played out before the film began, it didn’t take too long to realise Zizek would make this documentary a wacky and unique viewing experience. Zizek’s controversial reputation is kept far from secret in The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology as his views are clearly voiced. The film discusses psychoanalysis and how it can tell us about the effects and meanings of ideology in relation to cinema. I know this all seems a little dry for a Friday night viewing.  Not to mention many of us may prefer to see something with a little less brain power. But -and that’s a big ‘but’ – Zizek is a born entertainer. He can’t help but perform to the camera and through relating his theories to a wide variety of films, ranging from Scorsese’s Taxi Driver to Robert Wise’s West Side Story, the film proved to be both insightful and well…funny.

It is it’s humorous approach which makes the film one to watch.  Zizek throws himself into the films discussed, quite literally! From explaining psychological matters using a Kinder Egg (Yep, you read that correctly)  to dressing as a nun from The Sound of Music whilst discussing erotic underpinnings. You will never look at Maria in quite the same way again. The wacky tone created and maintained by the combination of Zizek’s colourful character and Fiennes’ clever direction and editing is what makes The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology so endearing.

Undeniably, the strength of the documentary lies with the presence of the ‘star’ of the show, Slavoj Zizek. However, the interest of the film lies very heavily on the philosophers’ shoulders. Maybe it would be more suitable for the film to be called Zizek’s’ Guide to Ideology.  The collaboration of Fiennes’ filmmaking and Zizek’s delivery, switching from deep issues to humour makes The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology a refreshing take on a documentary.

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