Žižek's overarching thesis is that human desires are artificial social constructions to which socialized human beings must be indoctrinated, and that cinema is the best tool yet created for such indoctrination. According to Žižek, "Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn't give you what you desire, it tells you how to desire."
Fiennes thematically divides Žižek's discursive presentation into three 50-minute segments. In part one, Žižek offers a Freudian analysis of how cinema allows us to create and experience the desires of the subconscious while simultaneously "keeping it at a safe distance, domesticating it, rendering it palpable." In part two, Žižek argues for the absolute necessity of fantasy in human sexuality to channel desire and shield against overwhelming anxiety which would otherwise prohibit copulation. In part three, Žižek argues that for human beings appearances are more important than reality, and that cinema is so engrossing and effective precisely because we know that it is illusionary.
Žižek offers a mixture of widely known and generally accepted theories (e.g., that Hitchcock is obsessed with sexual repression and domination, that hyper-sexualized father figures loom large in David Lynch films, and that the Wizard of Oz concerns the power of illusion or appearance) together with fresher or more controversial arguments (e.g., the dread produced by the scene of the overflowing toilet in The Conversation is so palpable because it confronts us with evidence of our animal natures, and Lynch's Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive are flipsides of the same story). Like fellow social critic Cornel West, Žižek frequently relies on rapid-fire, flashy and discursive presentation to make arguments that seem to resonate without being necessarily logically persuasive.
Most viewers interested in this documentary likely will be familiar with nearly all the 43 films discussed by Žižek. This choice of familiar films should help viewers comprehend Žižek's arguments more quickly and comprehensively, and may prompt viewers to go back and re-watch old favorites with new eyes though it also means that it won't prompt many new discoveries for most viewers.
Optional subtitles are available in English, French, German, Japanese, and English for the hearing impaired.