chapter  Six
40 Pages

Film portrayals of surveillance stalking

ByHelen K. Gediman

Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 film, The Conversation, is the brilliant forerunner of films in the surveillance-stalking genre that portray professionals who are paid to stalk. Many filmgoers have judged Coppola’s 1974 renowned masterpiece as one of the best films of all time. Coppola wrote, directed, produced, and released The Conversation during the Watergate era. The film provides us with the richest, most in-depth character portrayal of a professional surveillance stalker that lends itself to a psychoanalytically relevant study. As Harry Caul focuses his surveillance on the couple, the audience looks simultaneously at the superimposition of director Coppola’s crosshairs with his protagonist Caul’s surveillance camera crosshairs. Caul alternates between stalking and returning to his white van that houses part of his surveillance team, to check, personally, on their work. W. Zusman, like A. Sabbadini, also finds that the voyeurism of the screen character, Caul, is paralleled by the voyeurism of the filmer, Coppola.