In Paris, a static video camera keeps watch on a bourgeois home. In Portland, a webcam documents the torture and murder of kidnap victims. And in clandestine intelligence offices around the world, satellite techlogies relentlessly pursue the targets of global conspiracies. Such plots represent only a fraction of the surveillance narratives that have become commonplace in recent cinema. Catherine Zimmer examines how techlogy and ideology have come together in cinematic form to play a functional role in the politics of surveillance. Drawing on the growing field of surveillance studies and the politics of contemporary monitoring practices, she demonstrates that screen narrative has served to organize political, racial, affective, and even material formations around and through surveillance. She considers how popular culture forms are intertwined with the current political landscape in which the imagery of anxiety, suspicion, war, and torture has become part of daily life. From Enemy of the State and The Bourne Series to Saw, Cache and Zero Dark Thirty, Surveillance Cinema explores in detail the narrative tropes and stylistic practices that characterize contemporary films and television series about surveillance.
Catherine Zimmer is an Associate Professor of Film and Screen Studies and English at Pace University in New York City.