There’s probably a scarce number of people on this planet who can lodge critical summation and cultural psychoanalysis by looking at a chocolate Kinder egg and still remain thought-provoking and absolutely intriguing than this Slovenian think-tank superstar Slavoj Žižek. His philosophical rants, sometimes aggressive but never less intellectually voracious, are spit out with a thick, viscous Yugoslavian accent that often sounds as though emitted from a hard-drinking mad uncle in a stupor than a stately, prototype philosopher one can envisage. If Plato were to lecture us, we’d probably hit the sack – but in Žižek’s presence, we become alloys magnetised to his grubby screen charisma.
Following the stylistic choices from its successful predecessor, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, director Sophie Fiennes inserts Žižek into many classic film scenes, as varied as The Sound of Music, The Dark Knight, Triumph of the Will and Jaws, often to a comic effect. But these feather-light touches are minor and whimsical, balancing the full-weight of Žižek’s gravity-pulling ideas on display here. Where he deduced viewers as mere ‘perverts’ projecting desires on silverscreen, he branches out to the governing ideologies of our society, leaping off from cinema and head-butts politics, Nazism, Marxism, consumerism, religion and world economy.
If that sounds complex to you, that’s because it is. Žižek connects seemingly disparate elements such as a cup of Starbucks coffee to capitalist propaganda like no other’s business. His dialectic is not always linear – but you cannot blame it on somebody who’s tackling colossal topics without ending up with some circuitous argumentation. The biggest gripe I have with this documentary is the editing, which could have ruthlessly botched down some of Žižek’s repetitive rambling, but it must be quite a challenge to edit a lecture like this from a man who can give a fusillade of ideas without breathing. The theories he present are nonetheless compelling and even chilling – remarking that the London riots boils down to the failures of consumerism, that Jaws is a metaphor for communism, and The Dark Knight Rises is really a representation of society’s denial of truth. This is dissection of cinema and society at its most enthralling.
*Film4 is obviously crawling their arses off, as they haven’t come up with an official trailer yet. So here’s a taste of Žižek’s signature film dissection in his previous work, ‘The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema’. Check that out before the world ends.
DIRECTOR: Sophie Fiennes | CAST: Slavoj Žižek | SCREENPLAY: Slavoj Žižek | PRODUCER:Film4, BFI | RUNNING-TIME: 90 mins | GENRE: Documentary | COUNTRY: United Kingdom
(This review is dedicated to film patron Mr Milan Kocman from Clique Media.)