Strange Days

Screening on Film
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
With Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis.
US, 1995, 35mm, color, 145 min.
Print source: Criterion USA

Strange Days delivers a heady and far-reaching critique of the society of the spectacle that presciently foretells the intoxicating appeal of reality television. In the film’s darkly metaphorical future, the most fashionable drug is a cunning new technology that allows users to fully enter into the lives and experiences of others, be they emotional, physical, sexual or traumatic. The superbly conjured science-fiction world of Strange Days is nevertheless grounded in very real tensions—especially around race and police brutality—at work in turn-of-the-millennium America, and the post-Rodney King Los Angeles where the film is set. An imaginative and often terrifying meditation on the powers and process of spectatorship, Strange Days includes several bravura point-of-view shots and powerful references to Michael Powell’s masterful portrait of cinematic scopophilia, Peeping Tom (1960).

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