Sunday, 19 February 2012

Film Review: Rear Window (1954)

Alfred Hitchcock's film Rear Window is another gripping wonder. The audience is drawn into the story from the very beginning.
The bright and clear look of the film gives the viewer an unnerving sense of being a voyeur. As Tim Dirks rightly states," Remarkably, the camera angles are largely from the protagonist's own apartment, so the film viewer (in a dark theatre) sees the inhabitants of the other apartments almost entirely from his point of view - to share in his voyeuristic surveillance." Dirks, Tim. Filmsite Movie Review. Rear Window.
Fig 1: Rear Window Movie Poster

 The film begins with a man named Jeffries who is in a wheelchair due to an accident. Due to his limited ability to be pro-active, he begins observing his neighbours who, by the looks of it, are not acquainted with the concept of drawing their curtains.
This film captures the human curiosity beautifully as the audience can relate to the actions of the protagonist. If one is subjected to endless hours of boredom, one begins to observe the activities taking place outside one's window.
Hitchcock also plays with the audience's minds as it is not made clear until the very end that there is indeed a murderer in the building opposite Jeffries. Jeffries observes a man who has an ill wife. One day, the wife suddenly disappears and a large crate is seen in the room. Jeffries suspects murder. When he informs his physiotherapist about this, she tells him to divert his attention elsewhere. His girlfriend reacts in the same way.
Fig 2: Lisa and Jeffries

There is a particular scene that involves Jeffries and his girlfriend Lisa. This is the first time Lisa is introduced in the film. She is revealed first to be Jeffries' romantic interest as being shown on screen up close to Jeffries. As their conversation progresses, she moves away from him and walks around the room. Simultaneously, the camera zooms out to reveal what she is wearing. She suddenly transforms from a vision in a dream to a stylish socialite who is very well endowed with the knowledge of fashion. That bit of cinematography was powerful in informing the audience of Lisa's character.
The use of cameras in this film suggest that the use of a camera to capture the moment of another individual without their consent is a tad disconcerting. This film holds a striking resemblance to Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960). However, in Rear Window, the protagonist is a character that the audience can relate to as opposed to Peeping Tom, where the protagonist is a man with a dark childhood and an abnormal desire to kill women whilst filming them.
This film could be considered to be the inspiration for D.J. Caruso's Disturbia (2007) starring Shia LaBeouf.

Fig 3: The view from Jeffries' window

Rear Window is a film that contains bits of comedy whilst being a rather dark film. It is, after all, a murder mystery. The vivid colours in this film confuse the audience as to what the genre of the film might be even though it is very clear by the plot. As Boseley Crowther states,"In the polychromes seen from a rear window on steaming hot summer days and nights, and in the jangle and lilt of neighborhood music, he hints of passions, lust, tawdriness and hope." Crowther, Boseley. (1954).The New York Times Film Review. Rear Window.
This film also gives an insight to the American middle class. The variety of people who dwell within the same place is rather large. As reviewer C. Pea states, "Quite aside from the violation of intimacy, which is shocking enough, Hitchcock has nowhere else come so close to pure misanthropy, nor given us so disturbing a definition of what it is to watch the 'silent film' of other people's lives, whether across a courtyard or up on a screen". Pea,C.Time Out London Film Review. Rear Window (1954).


Crowther, Boseley. (1954).The New York Times Film Review. Rear Window. Available online at :
Accessed 18th February 2012

Pea,C.Time Out London Film Review. Rear Window (1954). Available online at: Accessed 18th February 2012

Dirks, Tim. Filmsite Movie Review. Rear Window. Available online at Accessed 18th February 2012

Caruso, D.J. (2007). Disturbia.

Powell, Michael. (1960). Peeping Tom

Illustration List

Fig 1: Hitchcock, Alfred. (1954). Rear Window

Fig 2: Hitchcock, Alfred. (1954). Rear Window

Fig 3: Hitchcock, Alfred. (1954). Rear Window

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