Films by this Filmmaker in the Tri-College Library Collection

Thriller (Sally Potter, 1979)



“Thriller,” is a playful feminist murder mystery that has become a classic in feminist film theory.  It is based on giving the heroine of “La Boheme,” Mimi, a subjective voice and position from which to investigate her death.   The main subject of  “Thriller” is not a person, but an idea: the critique of the traditional sacrifice of woman through an adventure in the gender and class politics of two other texts, “La Boheme” (Puccini, 1896) and “Psycho” (Hitchcock,1960).  This new Mimi is presented in a rich visual and aural playground that incorporates still images, dance and opera.  The film is less a text in itself than a synthesis of a series of art forms and a confrontation of two other texts.  Throughout “Thriller” Potter uses the materiality of film as a tool to deconstruct and re-work the relationship between theory and image.

Production Information:

The film was produced, scripted, directed and edited by Potter herself.  The cast includes Colette Laffont, Rose English, Tony Gacon and Vincent Meehan.  Its soundtrack includes excerpts from Bernard Hermmann’s “Psycho” soundtrack.




Biographical Information:

Charlotte Sally Potter was born in London on 19 September 1949 into an artistic background.  She determined to be a film director long before she left school at the age of sixteen.  She studied at St Martin’s School of Art and at the London School of Contemporary Dance. Potter apprenticed as a filmmaker at the London Filmmakers’ Co-op, which she joined in the late 1960s.

Between 1969 and 1971 she made several short experimental films exploring cinematic time and space. Most of these early films are multi-screen pieces: Black and White (1969) is an eight-minute, two-screen piece; and Play (1971), at fifteen minutes, uses a double-screen format to ‘play’ with cinematic space in a film about children playing on a street. Daily (1971) and Combines (1972) are experiments in expanded cinema, combining live performances of music and dance with multiscreen film projections.

During the 1970s, Potter toured as a dancer, choreographer, musician and performance artist: with Alston’s Strider dance company, with the Limited Dance Company, co-founded with Jacky Lansley, with performance artist Rose English, and with fellow musicians in the Feminist Improvisation Group (FIG).

After making “Thriller” in 1979 she went on to direct her first 35mm feature film “Golddiggers.”  Other films she has directed include, “Orlando” (1992), “The Tango Lesson” (1997) and “The Man who Cried” (2000).


-Ciecko, Anne, ‘Sally Potter: the making of a British woman filmmaker’, in Yvonne -Tasker (ed.), Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers (London: Routledge, 2002), pp. 272-280

-Florence, Penny, ‘A Conversation with Sally Potter’, Screen, v. 34, n. 3, 1993, pp. 275-284
-MacDonald, Scott, A Critical Cinema: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 397-427

-Jane Weinstock: “She Who Laughs First Laughs Last (Thriller by Sally Potter).” In: Camera Obscura Nr.5 (1980), S.100-109

-Elena del Rio: “Rethinking Feminist Film Theory: Counter-Narcissistic Performance in Sally Potter’s Thriller.” In: Quarterly Review of Film and Video 21:1 (2004), S.11-24

Stella Kyriakopoulos, 2004