Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Rear Window (1954) Review

Film poster
Rear Window, directed by Alfred Hitchcock is a suspense film starring James Stewart as L. B. "Jeff" Jeffries, Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont, Raymond Burr as Lars Thorwald and Thelma Ritter as Stella. The film is originally based on Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story "It Had to Be Murder".
The film tells the story of Jeff being confined to a wheelchair after being involved in a photography accident and so to pass time, he looks out of his apartment window which overlooks into neighboring apartments.
Jeff’s window overlooking the other apartments.
To begin the film, visual story telling is used which the camera pans around the characters living around the apartments doing their own activities outside the hot weather. The camera then pans to Jeff’s face before panning around his room and pictures before and after his accident until it gets to his leg cast and him confined in a wheel chair. However, it is noticeable that the camera never moves away from Jeff’s apartment but is aligned to Jeff’s point of view as mentioned by reviewer, CPea from Timeout London- Film Reviews, “the camera never strays from inside Stewart's apartment, and every shot is closely aligned with his point of view.”(Cpea, 2008). However match on match editing is frequently seen between Jeff and mostly of the outside apartments.

The film is sometimes known to be a metaphor for watching films and using the “peeping tom” phrase as described by film critic Charles Taylor from Salon, ““Rear Window” can be seen as a metaphor for watching movies, but it should be said that the metaphor only goes so far. There’s a big difference between peeping at strangers and watching a movie that’s been made for the express purpose of being watched. But Hitchcock was uniquely suited to explore what Grace Kelly refers to in the film as “rear-window” ethics.” (Taylor, 2000) however, the term peeping Tom and Jeff’s “rear window” is later defined in the film. The other residents living around the apartments is also a metaphor towards the possible outcomes of the relationship between Lisa and Jeff, such as a newlywed couple moves into the apartment at the beginning of the film only to row and split up at the end.
Thorwald using a knife to “kill” his wife?
The film is successful in story plot as the only way to build suspense with a character who’s stuck in one place and only looks out of the window for “escapism” is the suspicions made by Jeff which he witness one of the residents, a salesman murders his wife. This suspicion grows as more characters become more involved like the likes of Lisa, his nurse Stella and police detective, Tom Doyle. It is shows the true nature of these characters like Lisa who appears as a woman who wouldn’t perform dare devil tricks but in the end does so as described by Vincent Canby for the New York Times,The suspense of the film is provided by Jeff's growing suspicion that the jewelry salesman (Raymond Burr) who lives across the way has murdered and dismembered his wife. The film's comedy is provided by Lisa's showing that, when the chips are down, she's as capable of breaking-and-entering a possible murderer's apartment, scaling a wall to do so, as she is of wearing couture gowns. Jeff's delight in Lisa matches our delight in Miss Kelly.” (Canby, 1983)

Jeff using his photography camera 
List of Illustrations:


MovieGurur (2010) Film Poster (online):
http://www.movieposterdb.com/poster/a3d2fd71 - (accessed on 15/02/2012)
Malone, Sarah (2010) Jeff’s window overlooking the other apartments (online):
http://brightwalldarkroom.tumblr.com/post/434949525/rear-window-1954- (accessed on 15/02/2012)
James (2011) Thorwald using a knife to “kill” his wife? (online):
http://underthegunreview.net/2011/12/07/reasonable-remakes-rear-window/- (accessed on 15/02/2012)
aceblack1965 (2010) Jeff using his photography camera (online):
http://www.theaceblackblog.com/2012/01/movie-review-rear-window-1954.html- (accessed on 15/02/2012)
Bibliography:
CPea (2008) Rear Window (1954) (online):
http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/76472/rear_window.html - (accessed on 15/02/2012)
Taylor, Charles (2000) Rear Window (online):
http://www.salon.com/2000/01/21/rear_window/ - (accessed on 15/02/2012)
Canby, Vincent (1983) Rear Window- Still a Joy (online):
http://www.nytimes.com/library/film/100983hitch-window-reflect.html- (accessed on 15/02/2012)

2 comments :

  1. "The other residents living around the apartments is also a metaphor towards the possible outcomes of the relationship between Lisa and Jeff, such as a newlywed couple moves into the apartment at the beginning of the film only to row and split up at the end..." Nice observation!

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