The Truman Show vs Rear Window Essay

1695 Words7 Pages
What are the issues of watching and voyeurism in film? The intention of this essay is to discuss both films (The Truman Show, 1998 and Rear Window, 1954) alongside established theoretical criticism (Laura Mulvey and Norman K. Denzin) in an attempt to demonstrate how the issues of watching and voyeurism, as seen in todays mainstream Hollywood cinema, both engages and entices the spectator and to look at how the definition of the voyeur has changed. Before entering into a discussion about voyeurism in Rear Window and The Truman Show, an understanding of what is meant by ‘the dynamics of voyeurism’ in film must be attempted. The dictionary definition of a voyeur is: (1) a person who gains sexual pleasure from watching others when they are…show more content…
The cinema offers pleasure of scopophilia where ‘it can be fixated into perversion, producing obsessive voyeurs and Peeping Toms whose only sexual satisfaction can come from watching, in an active controlling sense, an objectified other.’ (Mulvey: 1988, p. 31)
Whereas, narcissism is the pleasure of being looked at and the pleasure ‘comes from identification with the image seen,’ (Nichols: 1985, p.18). For example, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) we see Robert Fords idolises Jesse intensely, as if he wants to pull on his boots in the morning. This movie describes Ford’s time in Jesse’s orbit as a series of abject disappointments and humiliations, mostly of his own accord. And as the film unwinds slowly, Robert's pinched and wretched narcissism is revealed, showing that the assassination was Ford’s tragedy as well as Jesse’s. An infamous folly he would regret and replay over for the rest of his life. Narcissism is the fascination with likeness and recognition (identification with ‘ego ideal’ subjectivity). Therefore, as seen in The Assassination of Jesse James ‘The sense of forgetting the world of the ego has subsequently come to perceive it [I forgot who I am and where I was] is nostalgically reminiscent of the pre-subjective moment of image recognition,’ (Mulvey: 1988, p. 32). We can see that voyeurism is not only
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