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About the Book
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER is based on the acclaimed noir novel by Marc Behm. Published in 1980, the relentlessly intense novel completely shattered the mold of the genre by presenting a private eye whose obsession knows no bounds. The New York Times Book Review called the novel "one of the most remarkable combinations of a private eye story and psychological suspense, with an entirely new slant, that has ever been published."

It was with great trepidation that Stephan Elliott picked up Behm's book on the recommendation of producer Al Clark as a project to follow "Pricillia." "I loathe anything with a slouch hat and venetian blinds," admits Elliott, "so I put off reading it for a long time. But when I finally gave in, I was immediately hooked. I realized right away that this story wasn't about the good guy in a Mickey Spillane hat. It was about the good guy falling in love with the bad guy, and getting the reader, against all our better instincts, to fall in love with her as well. The reader watches Joanna through The Eye and begins to feel what he feels. This fascinated me. I found it extraordinary that Behm created a really, really blood-curdling person whom you eventually fall for. It was the first time I could remember ever caring deeply about a murderer. It's a story that completely spins you around."

Elliott loves extremes, reversals, and mind-changing surprises, so when he realized the potential of Behm's story to explore love from a highly unconventional angle, that clinched the deal. Writing the script, he began to develop his own ideas of what the story reveals.

"I saw it as a story of two lost souls in America," comments Elliott. "That is what The Eye and Joanna share: a deep sense of loss. He is a man who has lost his daughter, and she is an orphan who has lost her family. It is a tale of obsessive love about a man with a huge emptiness inside himself seeking to be filled and a tragic woman who unexpectedly stirs his soul."

Elliott made the decision early on to turn the character of The Eye from an ordinary detective to its modern, even more emotionally removed equivalent: a high-tech surveillance agent. It was, he felt, the perfect metaphor for contemporary disconnection and isolation. "I've spent a lot of time watching people get lost in technology and I wanted to make this a story about a man who gets so removed from reality that he wakes up one morning and his wife and kid are gone," states the writer/director. "It's the story of someone who has lost his connection to the world. This is a subject of great concern to me - how we're no longer able to deal with other people face-to-face. Everything is through a barrier, a screen. First, the phone replaced personal contact, then the fax replaced even voice contact and now e-mail has gone a step beyond that. The result is that people have become more and more isolated."

Elliott carefully researched the latest, state-of-the-art spy technology and included only equipment that actually currently exists in EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. "People look at this stuff and think it's the future but it's happening right now," says Elliott. "These new digital detectives don't even have to interact with the people they're investigating, they don't even have to ask questions anymore. They just sit in the background and watch. And this is what The Eye has done all his life - simply watched as events unfolded. He is totally inert. But as he watches Joanna Eris, she moves him to action. For the first time, he is engaging with the world."

Part of The Eye's journey back into the world is coming to terms with the ghost of his lost daughter, whose shimmering presence is like a window into his damaged soul. The palpable memory of her beckons him at first as he becomes obsessed with Joanna Eris, t

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