Rear Window

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Andrew Raphaelson
Art 138
Prof. Friedberg

Rear Window

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window is a demonstration of the world created for us by viewing a film or real life situation. In this movie, we gain insight into the point of view of a hidden spectator and the physical space around him. L.B. Jeffries, the protagonist of the film, who is reduced to nothing but a wheel chair and the view from his window of neighboring apartments, witnesses what he suspects to be a murder and shows the audience the perspective of a man viewing the world through a camera lens. This is done through several cinematic effects and the captivating idea of a murder mystery in your own backyard. 

L.B. Jeffries is a photographer who broke his leg in his line of work. Now house-ridden in a wheel chair, Jeffries begins to take a closer look at the only visible part of the world to him, the view from his window. He pays close attention to his neighbor, Lars Thorwald, whom he believes killed his own wife. As a viewer of the movie, you can share the emotions of Jeffries, as he is a viewer to the murder mystery as well. His window and lens of his camera are the rectangular viewing devices that he sees the world just as we do when we see the film. We are essentially viewing a movie from the eyes of another viewer, letting us relate even further with Jeffries. 

Various cinematic techniques were utilized in this film to create the physical space that Jeffries was confined too and viewed from, as well as to give the viewer of the film an accurate perspective of the viewer. Mise-en-scene being in my opinion the most important effect used, it includes everything used in the film from the actors, lighting, stage, props, and setting. In Rear Window, the miss-en-scene was a small apartment usually dimmed in lighting to reduce any attention to its large and strategically placed window which allowed perfect viewing of the windows of parallel building’s apartments. The actor James Stewart is also apart of the mise-en-scene, playing the role of a curios photographer who develops an obsession with what he thinks is a murder that took place across the courtyard. The view from the window itself even plays an important part in this film’s mise-en-scene; from the window you can see Thorwald’s apartment with two windows, one of the living room and one of the bedroom. As Lars Thorwald was usually in the living room in the first half of the movie before his wife is murdered, and his wife was in the bedroom, there become two different worlds to view. Mr. and Mrs. Thorwald. In these two spaces the Thorwalds act honestly upon their emotions, free from each other’s judgement, because a wall separates them. Jeffries is able to view both windows, which gives the viewer of the film contrast between the two worlds in the Thorwald’s apartment. Because of the separation of the windows, we can see foreshadowing from the growing frustration of Lars Thorwald and neediness of his wife, which leads to her eventual murder. 

Another contrast in Rear Window was the use of silence when Jeffries was spying and the chatter in his own apartment about what is going on with Thorwald. There is a separation from the things we see in the film from what we hear. We can see the actions of Lars and the neighborhood but don’t hear anything about it until Jeffries describes his interpretation of what happened to whoever is listening to him. The silence when viewing through the window lets the audience’s mind wander to some extent and have their own ideas until Jeffries breaks the silence to put our minds back on track and back to sharing his perception. 

Continuity editing is another technique used in Rear Window to give the story the suspense it creates in the viewer. Throughout the film, Jeffries constantly looks out his window observing other the apartments; only taking short breaks to deal with matters in his personal life concerning his girlfriend and job. However as the movie...
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