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.

Updated: Reading List (Animated Films)

Secondary Sources & Theoretical Works 

  1. Cox, Carole. “Children’s Films: The Literature Connection.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 3, 1982, pp. 10–13, doi:10.1353/chq.0.0663. 


  1. Dens, Nathalie, et al. “DO YOU LIKE WHAT YOU RECOGNIZE? The Effects of Brand Placement Prominence and Movie Plot Connection on Brand Attitude as Mediated by Recognition.” Journal of Advertising, vol. 41, no. 3, M. E. Sharpe, Inc, 2012, pp. 35–53, doi:10.2753/JOA0091-3367410303. 


  1. Hudson, Simon, et al. “Meet the Parents: A Parents’ Perspective on Product Placement in Children’s Films.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 80, no. 2, Springer, 2008, pp. 289–304, doi:10.1007/s10551-007-9421-5. 


  1. Goldstein, Adam O., et al. “Tobacco and Alcohol Use in G-Rated Children’s Animated Films.” JAMA : the Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 281, no. 12, American Medical Association, 1999, pp. 1131–36, doi:10.1001/jama.281.12.1131. 


  1. González, María Pilar León, et al. “Associations Between Media Representations of Physical, Personality, and Social Attributes by Gender: A Content Analysis of Children’s Animated Film Characters.” International Journal of Communication, vol. 14, University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, Annenberg Press, 2020, pp. 6026–48. 


  1. Smith, Susan, et al. Toy Story : How Pixar Reinvented the Animated Feature. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017, doi:10.5040/9781501324949.


Zurcher, Jessica D., et al. “The Portrayal of Families Across Generations in Disney Animated Films.” Social Sciences (Basel), vol. 7, no. 3, MDPI AG, 2018, p. 47–, doi:10.3390/socsci7030047.


Neupert, Richard. John Lasseter. University of Illinois Press, 2016.


Gillam, Ken, and Shannon R. Wooden. “Post-Princess Models of Gender: The New Man in Disney/Pixar.” Journal of Popular Film and Television, vol. 36, no. 1, 2008, pp. 2–8. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3200/JPFT.36.1.2-8.


Ackerman, Alan. “The Spirit of Toys: Resurrection and Redemption in Toy Story and Toy Story 2.” University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 74, no. 4, 2005, pp. 895–912. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1353/utq.2005.0266.


Towbin, Mia Adessa, et al. “Images of Gender, Race, Age, and Sexual Orientation in Disney Feature-Length Animated Films.” Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, vol. 15, no. 4, 2003, pp. 19–44. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1300/J086v15n04-02. 


Garlen, Julie C., and Jennifer A. Sandlin. “Happily (N)Ever After: The Cruel Optimism of Disney’s Romantic Ideal.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 17, no. 6, Dec. 2017, pp. 957–971. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/14680777.2017.1338305. 


Fraustino, Lisa Rowe. “‘Nearly Everybody Gets Twitterpated’: The Disney Version of Mothering.” Children’s Literature in Education: An International Quarterly, vol. 46, no. 2, June 2015, pp. 127–144. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10583-015-9250-6. 


Lugo-Lugo, Carmen R., and Mary K. Bloodsworth-Lugo. “‘Look Out New World, Here We Come’?: Race, Racialization, and Sexuality in Four Children’s Animated Films by Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks.” Cultural Studies, Critical Methodologies, vol. 9, no. 2, SAGE Publications, 2009, pp. 166–78, doi:10.1177/1532708608325937. 


Tenzek, Kelly E., and Bonnie M. Nickels. “End-of-Life in Disney and Pixar Films: An Opportunity for Engaging in Difficult Conversation.” Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, vol. 80, no. 1, SAGE Publications, 2019, pp. 49–68, doi:10.1177/0030222817726258. 


Camodeca, Gina. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin: The Politics of Ownership in Disney’s Toy Story.” Studies in Popular Culture, vol. 25, no. 2, 2002, p. 51–. 


Smith, Becky L. “What Disney Teaches Our Children about Leadership.” Popular Culture Review, vol. 10, no. 2, Aug. 1999, pp. 79–87. EBSCOhost,


Academic Journal 

Zurcher, Jessica D., et al. “The Portrayal of Families Across Generations in Disney Animated Films.” Social Sciences (Basel), vol. 7, no. 3, MDPI AG, 2018, p. 47–, doi:10.3390/socsci7030047. 

Garlen, Julie C., and Jennifer A. Sandlin. “Happily (N)Ever After: The Cruel Optimism of Disney’s Romantic Ideal.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 17, no. 6, Dec. 2017, pp. 957–971. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/14680777.2017.1338305. 


Towbin, Mia Adessa, et al. “Images of Gender, Race, Age, and Sexual Orientation in Disney Feature-Length Animated Films.” Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, vol. 15, no. 4, 2004, pp. 19–44, doi:10.1300/J086v15n04_02.


Primary Texts 

Docter, Pete, and Del Carmen, Ronnie. “Inside Out Original Story.” Script Slug, Walt Disney Studios, 19 June 2015, 


Bird, Brad. “Ratatouille.” Script Slug, Walt Disney Studios, 2007, 



Keywords & Key Terms 

  • Product Placement 
  • Screenwriting/Screenplays
  • Children’s Animated Films 
  • Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks
  • Animated Film Characters
  • Subliminal Messaging
  • Family, class, sexuality


I knew that I was interested in writing my thesis about a topic related to American cinema, but I didn’t know anything more specific than that. I am interested in screenwriting, cinematography, and film adaptations. I also kept in mind my favorite genres which are horror, trillers, and documentaries. The first question I looked into was the “connection between film and literature”. From here, there were some sources about film adaptations and I saw some about the representation of trauma in film which piqued my interest. When I searched trauma in film, most of the sources mentioned the films people are first introduced to—animated children’s films. Naturally, production companies like Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks were also mentioned. I focused on Pixar the most, out of personal interest. I have a handful of sources that I did not include in my secondary sources section, but I think could be useful to me. I am still not entirely sure if I want to stick to a topic within animated children’s films, just because I love documentaries and I feel like I want to research more about their production before I commit to this film genre. What I like about children’s animated films is that I would explore how they influence young audiences: how the films represent family, class, and sexuality. Also, how the young viewers are taken advantage of with things like product placement and subliminal messaging. What interests me about these movies are things adults notice but kids cannot see, and possibly vice versa.


10/25/21: With introducing primary texts to this list, I knew I had to make a decision about which movies to write about. My biggest issue here was that I planned to focus on the early 2000s movies I grew up with, but in more recent years those movies released may have more content pertaining to my topic. However, I haven’t seen those movies (yet): Inside Out, Soul, Coco, Moana. The first thing I did was make a list of my favorite animated movies and/or movies I think I should look into more: Trolls (DreamWorks), Madagascar (DreamWorks), Spirit (DreamWorks), Brother Bear (Disney), Monsters Inc. (Pixar), Finding Nemo (Pixar), Soul (Pixar), Inside Out (Pixar), Coco (Pixar), Ratatouille (Pixar), Moana (Disney), and Ice Age (DreamWorks). After I thought of my favorite movies, I looked into who made them, I did this informally on Google and noted their names. Two names seemed most prominent (Ken Miyamoto and John Lasseter—who is a familiar name to me). From here, I searched for the screenplays online. Most are tricky to find, especially for free, but I found some. I also searched screenwriting themes and rules that those who work for Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks follow. I am still unsure if my primary sources will be the films themselves or their screenplays, though I will most likely end up utilizing both. I also thought of the question: how are animals used to present human stereotypes? I didn’t end up grabbing any sources from here, but I did look around on the Film Literature Index from JumpStart.

Susan Smith on Pixar and Hitchcock

One of the sources I am interested in exploring further is a book written by Susan Smith, Toy Story: How Pixar Reinvented the Animated Feature (2018). Pixar, the world-renowned production company, was founded in 1986 in California. Toy Story was the first release, coming out in 1995. Other timeless animated films like “A Bug’s Life”, “Monsters, Inc.”, and “Finding Nemo” were produced prior to Disney acquiring the company for approximately $7.4 billion in 2006. Susan Smith is a senior lecturer and professor of film studies at the University of Sunderland in England. She has been teaching there for almost twenty-five years, since 1998Most of her work centers around Alfred Hitchcock, one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. Her most successful work about Hitchcock is her book Hitchcock: Suspense, Humour, and Tone (2000). She is also the author of the chapter “Hitchcock as Saboteur”, co-authoring the book Alfred Hitchcock: Centenary Essays (1999) with Richard Allen and Ishii Gonzales. She has a plethora of articles about Hitchcock, her most successful being “Cineaction (1999)- The Spatial World of Hitchcock’s Films”. As her time at the University of Sunderland has gone on, she has shifted her focus to animated film and musicals.

Strength and Loving Oneself

Toni Morrison communicates empowering life lessons through her characters’ personalities. Baby Suggs, being Sethe’s mother-in-law, is a mother figure for her but for the reader as well. She has a passage about loving oneself that begins prominent to their situation and then broadens and becomes relatable to all people. The context that Baby Suggs talks about is white people not loving black people, or their skin and hands. A person’s skin represents who they are and their history. A black person’s hands were a threat and a means of expressing themselves. They could use their hands to work hard and advance in life, theoretically. After this, her passage about loving oneself shifts and reads like she is speaking directly to the reader. “You got to love it, you!” Baby Suggs shouts (Morrison 104). She mentions flesh again, flesh that needs to be loved, breaking down the body: feet that need rest, backs that need support, and arms that are strong. Strength, resting, and support and all connected as are feet, arms, and the spine of the human body. The spine, which is the center of the body, needing support emphasizes that people cannot make it through life alone. Community and lifting others up is important, as is lifting oneself up in times when they feel alone. The passage wraps up narrowing the target audience again and specifying back to its original. “The dark, dark liver—love it, love it…”, Caucasian skin is prized and the darker of a skin tone that someone has the less human he was treated. The less a person is like the well-off Caucasian family, the harder of a time others and life would have given him which is all the more importance to love himself deeply. Repeating the words “dark” and “love” curate the message of value. A person who loves their self is never alone and always with a friend. Feeling supported and strong, able to rest when needed. Baby Suggs teaches the reader about strength. She encourages laughing, crying, and dancing. Flushing one’s emotions out. Keeping everything in and seeming unaffected is a false sense of strength in humans. Feeling and facing emotions is courageous and that is how to move past them.  

Love and Innocence

Field’s poem “Power in Silence” has a reoccurring motif about the importance of innocence, specifically focusing on the first and last stanzas. In the first stanza, the author is writing about her young lover. The young woman is “[her] girl”, a child, someone who does not have years of life experience yet to shape her person. The girl is “the light”, “she is the sapphire”, she “puts the music in the pearl”. Here, pearl is a metaphor for life and the author’s universe. The girl puts music—brings excitement, joy, comfort—in the author’s life. A pearl also represents purity and innocence. By putting music and giving life to these values, Field deems purity and innocence as healthy, prospering, and important for years to come. The sapphire stone likewise represents prosperity, beauty, inner peace, innocence, and good health. The girl is described as “royal” and “jeweled”, as are the values she embodies. The final line in this stanza is that she puts “the music in the pearl”, drawing the most attention to the figure of innocence spreading refreshing life and wellness into the world. In the final stanza of this poem, the motif about innocence is more upfront. Each line has at least one word that is associated or a description of purity and innocence. Words like “dove”, “wings”, “warm”, and “bird”. The word “light” is also repeated. A dove is white, which is the color of purity. Wings are fragile and angelic. Warmth is comforting. Birds are dainty and vulnerable. “Love” is the last word of this stanza, and the “Power in Silence” poem, meaning that love cherishes all this purity and innocence. 

Support by Woman

What interested me most about the Michael Field’s reading is the reasoning for creating a pseudonym in the first place. Of course, society forced women in the nineteenth century to rely entirely on their husbands and fathers. The men are the providers of the home and women have no rights of their own that would allow them independence. So, if a woman is looking for a means of supporting herself, that means something went wrong. The male figure in her life that was supposed to take care of her failed. He could have fallen ill and died, been in an accident, drank himself to death. The women who decide publishing will be their means of income are looking to be supported by the middle and upper class. These people have more resources to share with those in need, which those living in poverty can’t provide. It did not surprise me to read about Katharine Harris Bradley’s early life hardships. Her father passed when she was a toddler, and then she sister became handicapped after the birth of her second child. Bradley was placed into a life where the support lacked, and she was very soon after handed the responsibility of supporting another family. Publishing was something she had to do. It was not a leisurely activity for her to pass time. Bradley was an independent and well-educated woman, so she had the privilege of being able to take a shot at publishing. Not all women who were forced into her positions in the nineteenth century had this luxury. 

I think that it is incredibly special that Edith could bond with her aunt over writing. Katharine experienced yet another tragedy with a male when she studied in Paris, and she believed that she would have no other option than to be a spinster. Receiving support from another woman, however, they were able to lift each other up and support their family in a time period where this was a rarity.