Directed by Sophie Fiennes and released theatrically in the UK, the home country of the director, in 2013.
The second of Slavoj Zizek documentaries in which he outlines his ideas about religious and political ideologies and the way in which they have been thrust throughout the world during the twentieth and twenty first centuries… and then picks films that perfectly fit his ideas. For both documentaries – this one much more so than the first – could’ve had almost any other films that showcased the same cliche’s that Zizek needed and he still would’ve been able to make the same points which he made here to the exact same degree. Zizek has many great ideas and even though some of his methods, ideas may seem abstract, strange or even too extreme even for a philosophical idea… at the end of the day it’s all truly subjective to how you understand the ideas at their roots and how well you feel Zizek applies his own ideologies to the ideologies of others.
Anyone can philosophise and make an essay in the form of a film… but if they don’t have the correct sources to back up the ideas they put forth or enough confidence in their own intelligence that will keep the viewer entertained and intrigued in the ideas… then it will never work… luckily for us, we can truly get a sense of where Zizek is coming from because of the way that he uses the examples of cinema he picks in order to illustrate his points.
Both of these documentaries (Pervert’s Guide To Cinema and Pervert’s Guide To Ideology) are must-see films for anyone interested in areas of philosophy or social issues aswell as cinema, its evolution through the twentieth century and the way in which it has effected our culture. The ultimate question really posed by Zizek here is: has cinema been a help or a hindrance for society and progressiveness? That’s all up to the individual to decide. But I know that Zizek is a complete film buff… and because I’m one too and we, the collective film buff (lol), know full well that there are two sides to cinema. The artistic expression which encompasses films from many different countries that have messages behind them…. and there is the flip side of the coin… the commercial side that encompasses films from many of the same countries that give ideas that can be interpreted in many different ways even without an artistic presence behind the viewfinder. Zizek knows all of this and his focus on the artistic side of cinema only made me love these documentaries even more so because when the commercial films do pop up, he manages even then to intellectualise and squeeze out what he can from them.
What makes these two documentaries so much greater than the ideas that Zizek puts forth in them, is the way that they are made and the way in which Zizek is placed into the same scenes that are illustrated to make his points – be it via bluescreen or by actually filming at the same location that the scenes were filmed at. What this does it gives the viewer the feeling that Zizek is somehow stealing all of this wisdom from inside the films themselves and bringing them back to reveal to us. It really gives it a very special feel.
Zizek is a very great mind once you truly get to grips with what he is saying as a whole, but this is really not for someone who doesn’t know anything about Zizek prior to this. I suggest watching the documentary Zizek! from 2005 and maybe listening to some of his words on YouTube before getting into either of these films.
In conclusion I’d like to say that the way that Zizek illustrates his points, mainly his ideas on how ideologies are formed along with the help and assistance of cinema as a tool to tell stories with these underlying themes, are just so beautiful even if now and again he may be a little out of whack. In most cases, I feel the exact same way as he does. I want to discuss these same philosophical ideas about existence and the reality that we live in in my own work in the future but I also want to then relate these ideas to the cinema and the films that I adore and love that also have these same ideas and themes intertwined in them. Being able to make films myself in the future and inject these ideas into the scripts is probably the best and only way I can truly reflect with myself upon my own thoughts about these ideas.
Now I’m not really interested in doing a film essay myself like Zizek or Orson Welles tried to do brilliantly with his mockumentary film F For Fake, which is why I take heavy influence from filmmakers like David Lynch and Ingmar Bergman because they present such intricate stories that are rife with these themes. Ultimately I just want to be able to tell these stories that tell tales of reality in a way that gives a true depiction of the reality we live in, not in order to paint a picture of the facade which we’ve built for ourselves based on and around these ideologies that Zizek describes in his documentaries. Because in the end, even these ideas that we are talking about that transcend these boundaries, about the existence we are a part of and the reality that we exist in, can each end up being used as parts of or as ideologies themselves – be it in a positive way or a harmful one.