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Surveillance on Screen

Monitoring Contemporary Films and Television Programs

Sébastien Lefait

The theme of surveillance has become an increasingly common element in movies and television shows, perhaps as a response to the sense that the world is now virtually under watch. But the recent surge of this filmic device calls for an explanation that transcends the basic assumption that media illustrates the changes of society. The persistent and growing presence of surveillance in cinematic productions is not merely a reflection of the advent of surveillance societies, but rather an aesthetic adaptation to the evolution of watching patterns.

Surveillance on Screen: Monitoring Contemporary Films and Television Programs, Sébastien Lefait examines this ever-increasing phenomenon. Drawing on the rapidly developing field of surveillance studies, Lefait offers an in-depth analysis of television shows and films, which complement current theoretical approaches to those subjects. This unique combination of surveillance theories with the latest concepts of film, television, and Internet studies is based on a large and diversified range of popular series and films, including the shows 24, Lost, and Survivor as well as such films as Minority Report, Paranormal Activity, The Truman Show, and the on-screen version of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Written from a perspective that does not limit itself to a “reflection-of-society” approach, this book explores both how cinema shapes our experience of surveillance and how surveillance influences our viewing of cinema. Lefait follows the various identifiable stages in cinema’s experimental use of surveillance, studying the impact of technology on both the watcher and the watched. In addition to film and media studies, this book will be of interest to those engaged in information technology, sociology, and, of course, surveillance studies.
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Scarecrow Press
Pages: 252Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-0-8108-8590-5 • Hardback • October 2012 • $81.00 • (£54.95)
978-0-8108-8591-2 • eBook • October 2012 • $77.00 • (£49.95)
Sébastien Lefait is Lecturer in English Literature and Film at the University of Corsica.



Chapter 1 Dystopian (Super)Panopticism: from
Nineteen Eighty-Four to Orwellian Films

Chapter 2 Closed-Circuit Filmmaking: Cinema in the Age of Panopticism Come True

Chapter 3 Audiovisual Fiction and Synoptic Surveillance: the Televisualisation of Life

Chapter 4 Cinema in the Catoptic Age: Visions of a Sousveillance World

Conclusion: Surveillance Screens—The New Site of Film?



About the author

This volume will be of interest to film and media students and can serve to supplement other film reference works in modern cinema. It may also be of interest to those in surveillance studies, sociology, and information technology.
American Reference Books Annual

Lefait presents a series of detailed arguments throughout the book about the intertwined relationship between surveillance and cinema/television, and our position, both watching screens and being watched by them. Overall, the book provides a very clear analysis of the various debates about surveillance and popular culture, with some well-chosen and closely-analysed films and television programmes throughout.

The book is solidly written and engaging throughout. . . .After reading Surveillance on Screen:Monitoring Contemporary Films and Television Programs by Sébastien Lefait, [the reader has] a greater understanding and appreciation of the purpose of surveillance in cinema and how the techniques are applied in some of the best known surveillance films.
Film Matters