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Film-makers and critics alike have long been fascinated by the similarities between man's natural voyeuristic impulses and the viewing process in cinema. Conditions of screening (the darkened room) and narrative conventions in mainstream cinema (continuity editing as a means of effacing the methods of production, and the convention by which actors do not, generally speaking, directly address the camera), essentially make the film viewer a voyeur. Like the voyeur, we as viewers derive a certain sense of superiority that comes from experiencing events vicariously, hence without any real threat or danger to ourselves. Furthermore, when we are witness to things that are traditionally private, we feel we have a certain power over the object of our gaze; the look becomes a controlling one, a means of oppression.

This analogy has prompted critics to explore several related aspects of the way we view and experience films. For Christian Metz, voyeurism is a vital psychic mechanism associated with the cinema. In 'Story/Discourse: Notes on Two Kinds of Voyeurism' he states that the film, although it is exhibitionist, chooses to pretend that its audience does not exist, 'making it (at best) a beautiful closed object which must remain unaware of the pleasure it gives us'.2 This situation invites a voyeuristic response, for by effacing its marks of enonciation and disguising itself as story (histoire) the film 'becomes an object presented by an agent who hides, rather than confronts our gaze.'3 This interpretation offers a further

Film Making

Film Making

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