Rear Window: Template for the Future

My initial interest with Rear Window started when I heard that Alfred Hitchcock is the director. Since I started taking film classes at Dickinson three years ago, he was one the first directors I learned about and has been mentioned in nearly all my film classes. Rightfully so, his 1960 film “Psycho” is one of the most studied films of all time (the shower scene specifically). It is palatable and easy to recognize in films since its time. In 2021 a movie called “The Woman in the Window” was released (screenplay of AJ Finn’s 2018 novel), so naturally this was heavy on my mind. In that story, an agoraphobiac (Anna) does not leave her apartment. She watches her neighbors for entertainment, and believes she witnesses a crime occur in their apartment, also through means of a camera. This is one of many stories inspired from a peeping tom narrator. Something that really interested me in Rear Window is the lack of scenery. The only setting the audience has for two hours is Mr. Jefferies’ apartment and what he can see from his back window. I think it works because he focuses on a handful of neighbors, so that provides the viewer small breaks from Jefferies’ life and think about the others. Hitchcock also directs with many subtleties in his films. I noticed the music in Rear Window, specifically in the first half, was mostly upbeat and just slightly nuanced. Having nonchalant music during a scene like when Thorwald is out all night with his suitcase, as opposed to no music or something playing that is explicitly daunting, tries to trick the viewer. It changes the context of the scene and tries to play with the audience to make them second guess themselves, if what they’re seeing is really the situation of the scene. This adds suspense to his films. In “Psycho” Norman Bates shows small facial expressions of anger and lack of control over himself. But, when he talks, he is polite and can conversate with others.

One thought on “Rear Window: Template for the Future”

  1. I took note of many of the same elements of Rear Window as you have noted here, especially the music and the settings. I think that these facets of the direction are extremely interesting when we are reminded by Greg Smith that everything in a film is purposeful. There are so many possibilities to explore for these stylistic choices, but I think that especially for the lack of sound, it makes for an eerie proximity to reality. When we normally watch films, we expect background music because it is what we have come to know. Yet, when it is not there, it feels much closer to real life. Perhaps this is to prevent the viewer from not straying too far from the relationship between the film and their own life. I’m interested about the last point you made at the end of your reflection when you bring up Psycho. I’ve never seen the film, but I wonder whether that distance between his expressions and his actions were symptomatic of something. I wonder what really causes the viewer to second guess themselves.

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