Fig. 1. Rear Window Poster
Rear Window follows the story of Jeffries, a professional photographer, who’s stuck in his apartment recuperating after a leg injury on the job. Right off the bat we’re stuck in his apartment barely able to freely move around due to his wheelchair creating a personal atmosphere between the audience and Jeff as we witness his boredom and need to release his adventurist energy.
Fig. 2. The Neighbours
Six years earlier Hitchcock produced Rope in which the viewer is also trapped within a confined apartment; two major differences separate these movies however. In Rope we are shown the secrets of the movie, in a way becoming the accomplices in the murder or witnesses at the least. It was Hitchcock’s way in letting the viewers in on a dirty little secret that was bound for disaster using suspense as his primary tool. Rear Window changes the angle of involvement for the viewer, unlike Rope we are kept in the dark, viewing the events as they unravel. It still contains suspense but it gives a feeling of mystery more than anything.
Fig. 3. Voyeur
The film heavily imposes the human nature of voyeurism through Jeff’s window bound experience. Jeff can do nothing more but to spy on his close neighbours across the garden; the way Hitchcock directs the camera at eye level and pans around as if we’re looking through Jeff’s eyes puts us directly in his wheelchair, we become the voyeur and we experience first-hand the lives of ‘our neighbours’ and as Robert Ebert states that Rear Window is “a film about a man who does on the screen what we do in the audience--look through a lens at the private lives of strangers.” (Ebert, 2000)
Hitchcock’s clever use of point-of-view camera directing and James Stewart’s (Jeff) subtle acting cues (i.e. use of his eyes, scanning the scene) truly create an enveloping feel that brings out our inner most curiosity that can make us go too far sometimes, as Jeff “gets so preoccupied with the stories happening across the street that he neglects his own life and his stunning girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly).” (Simonpillai, ~96-12)
Fig. 4. Caught
As the story pans out, along with Jeff, we gather our own opinions and little looks into the neighbour’s happenings while not wanting to get caught. We happily view their lives from the comfort of the apartment until unwittingly we glimpse something that resembles a possible murder. Since Hitchcock keeps Jeff, and in turn the audience, within the confines of the apartment the whole time it places a sense of danger over the voyeurism, you cannot help but keep watching through the window waiting to see what happens next.
Ebert, R. (2000) robertebert.com At: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20000220/REVIEWS08/2200301/1023 (Accessed on: 06/03/12)
Simonpillai, R. (1995-12) AskMen Entertainment At: http://ca.askmen.com/entertainment/movie/rear-window.html (Accessed on: 06/03/12)
Fig. 1. Alfred Hitchock (1954) Rear Window Poster At: http://www.best-horror-movies.com/rear-window.html (Accessed on: 06/03/12)
Fig. 2. The Neighbours (1954) From: Rear Window Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock [film still] USA: Transatlantic Pictures At: http://www.cswap.com/1954/Rear_Window/still/28.jpg (Accessed on: 06/03/12)
Fig. 3. Voyeur (1954) From: Rear Window Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock [film still] USA: Transatlantic Pictures At: http://www.cswap.com/1954/Rear_Window/still/3.jpg (Accessed on: 06/03/12)
Fig. 4. Caught (1954) From: Rear Window Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock [film still] USA: Transatlantic Pictures At: http://www.cswap.com/1954/Rear_Window/still/22.jpg (Accessed on: 06/03/12)