Sequence Analysis 1 – The Rear Window
Although many realist films tend to realize that the viewer is an observer, there is a theme that is clearly established in the first few minutes of Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) with a variety of long shots that clearly show the setting; complimenting this Hitchcock also utilizes pan and dolly as well as transitioning angles so we can observe every apartment and tenant. Sound and different camera distance also contributes to the mise en scene that further presents the theme in conjunction with the cinematography. The mise en scène and cinematography in the beginning sequence of Rear Window clearly sets the stage for the viewer to take on a role of careful yet clear observation and watchfulness. This in turn sets the overall theme of rubbernecking or spying, not just observing.
To start out, we are placed behind the confinement of an apartment looking at three open windows with the shades down. As they slowly open, we begin to observe the first cinematographic technique Hitchcock uses to introduce the theme of observing. We dolly out of the window to see that we are on a top floor of an apartment in an apartment block. Because we are out of the window, we begin to crane. It reinforces the fact that we are actually looking out over the apartment block, observing everything we see. This is emphasized further as we immediately transition to a high angle shot. This places us in a position that implies we are high up, giving us a role of an eagle-eyed spectator. We are reminded that we are looking out to observe carefully. Hitchcock keeps dollying through and panning across the apartment block, while pausing the camera at every window as we watch everyone’s routine. This particular shot is mostly continuous as well, which again implies that we are still looking out the window, turning our heads to look through the window of every tenants’ personal lives, made clear with the pausing. We even pause slightly in the house of...
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