Rear Window Thoughts
Recently I had the pleasure of watching Rear Window, which was created by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954. To briefly summarize the plot, it follows a professional photographer named L.B Jeffries, who is stuck inside his apartment while recuperating from a broken leg. Because he is confined to his apartment complex, he entertains himself by peeping on his neighbors and their daily activities. As the story progresses, we see that one of his neighbors (Thorwald) has an argument with his wife, and then she mysteriously disappears. Jeffries is the only one paying attention, and believes that Thorwald murdered her, then used tools to dismember the body. Many characters are skeptical of his accusation against Thorwald, but in the end, he proves to be right because they find Mrs. Thorwald’s wedding ring. The assumption is that she would never leave it, so she’s probably dead. The movie ends with the season changing, a much happier Jeffries, and a peaceful apartment complex.
As far as the cinematography goes for this movie, I found it to be interesting and effective. The camera angles used in this film suggest that we are seeing things from a 1st person point of view, as in we the audience are seeing what Jeffries sees. I also noticed that in-between scenes, Hitchcock used fading to black to transition. I felt that this built a lot of suspense because it almost served as a time jump to the next big event. Hitchcock also used it a few times when Jeffries falls asleep, and I liked that because it kept the movie moving forward. I also found the uses of sound fascinating in this film. There were times I could not tell if the sound was diagetic or non diagetic because we would be looking into other character’s apartments and the mood would be the same for both the protagonist and other characters. An example of this is when we look into the lonely woman’s apartment. She is preparing a romantic dinner, while Jeffries girlfriend is doing the same. Romantic music is on in the background, which gives me confusion on where the music is coming from, if Jeffries can hear it, or if no one can hear it, and that it is to just set the mood for the audience.
As far as MES in this film, I thought the lighting was used as a way to build suspense. The darkness was used to show grim scenes, like when the neighbor’s dog was strangled, while the natural light during the day almost showed bliss because of the neighbor’s collective ignorance of what was happening in their apartment complex.
This film makes a lot of conflicting statements about Voyeurism. On the one hand, it shows how disturbing it can be, and how much of an invasion of privacy it is. An example of that is when we look at the attractive female neighbor who is always wearing skimpy outfits. She likely has no idea that Jeffries was watching her, but if she did I’d imagine she would not be happy. The same goes for the lonely neighbor because her love life is no one’s business. On the other hand, Jeffries peeping on the neighbors allowed him to discover Mrs. Thorwald’s murder. Had he not been staring out the window throughout the film, no one would even question the disappearance of Mrs. Thorwald, and Mr. Thorwald would get off Scott free.
In many ways, this film uses conventions from the romantic genre because of who the story is focused around. Jeffries is involved in romantic drama throughout the film because he does not want to settle down with his girlfriend Lisa, and it is not until the end of the film, when he sees she’s in trouble, that he realizes his love for her. If anything were to happen to her, he would be devastated. Other characters also display romantic genre traits, but in different ways. The newly wed couple shows how in love and excited they are to be together. For them, life is just beginning. When we look at the lonely woman, she is constantly in search for love because that provides her life with meaning, and we discover the man who throws parties probably only does so because he’s also lonely and seeks human interaction. It is nice to see both of them end up together by the end of the film. Jeffries nurse briefly discusses her marriage, and we see that even after many years, she is still loyal to her husband. In the case of the Thorwalds, we potentially see two people who maybe were once in love, but drift apart as things take a turn for the worse.
All in all, I really enjoyed watching this film. Besides the expert cinematography and color, which is before its time, I found the plot to be very interesting and relevant to society today. Not only do human beings still check in on the activities of others, but I find that most of us are still constantly looking for love. If there’s anything to take away from watching this, its to never give up on finding love, and to be willing to accept it. Without love, there is no meaning in our lives.