The recent uproar over NSA surveillance can obscure the fact that surveillance has been an indelible part of contemporary life for decades. And cinema has long been aware of its power - and potential for abuse.
In Closed Circuits, Garrett Stewart explores a panoply of films, from M and Rear Window to The Conversation and The Bourne Legacy, to analyze the ways in which cinema has articulated the concept of surveillance. While it has long been a mainstay of the thriller, surveillance, Stewart argues, speaks to something more foundational in the very work of the camera. The shared axis of montage and espionage - especially the way that point of view and editing techniques are designed to draw us in and make us forget the omnipresence of the camera - offers an entry point to larger questions about the politics of an oversight regime that is increasingly remote and robotic, a global technopticon. Dazzling in its breadth of reference, and far-reaching in its conclusions about both cinematic and real-world surveillance, Closed Circuits further confirms Garrett Stewart as among our leading theorists of narrative.