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DeaconsDen Classic Reaction – Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window

A Hitchcock masterpiece. Alfred Hitchcock’s films always possessed a voyeuristic quality. Read Window is his treatise on voyeurism. How we all partake in it and how easy it is to get caught up in it. In addition to the thrills of the story, Hitchcock’s technical prowess is at its peak. They way he sort of layers his scenes so that he introduces the next scene orally while the current scene is still playing. The way he repeats camera movements so that we become grounded in a routine, much like James Stewart’s LB Jeffries is since he has a broken leg. When we feel confined (timely in 2020 I know), who knows what we end up doing?

Rear Window also has an interesting storytelling device where the emotions of the relationship between Jeff and Lisa (an absolutely stunning Grace Kelly), spills out into the apartments across the way, particularly into the views we get of the character dubbed “Ms. Loneyhearts.” Hitchcock has Lisa see herself in this woman who fantasizes about having a man in her life. Lisa has a man, but Jeff would rather fantasize than be a part of Lisa’s life. This is some great use of visuals. There’s also some great scenes that take advantage of Hitchcock’s background in expressionist cinema such as Jeff and Lisa arguing. Lisa seems bathed in a beautiful light while Jeff’s lighting is dimmer. Speaking of Lisa, she is one of the best Hitchcock women. Dealing with a man who insists she isn’t up to a rough life like what he does to take photos, she actually is. Yet she does it on her terms. She’ll help investigate a potential murder, but she does it in her fancy dress and high heels.

Rear Window also has a focus on doppelgänger as much as people peeping. If Lisa is the double for Ms Loneyhearts, Jeff is the double for Raymond Burr’s Lars Thorwald. Jeff wants out from his relationship and Thorwald wants out from his wife. Jeff’s mistress is the life he leads as a photographer, Thorwald has an actual mistress. Even Hitchcock puts himself in the film and not just in his typical cameo fashion. You can see the director as the double of the songwriter played by Ross Bagdasarian of Alvin and the Chipmunks fame. The songwriter works on his music throughout the film and competes it just as the film is completed. Hitchcock again showing a sort of seedy underside to human nature by wrapping it up in the thriller genre.

It’s amazing how Hitchcock manages to tell so many stories in addition to the main plot from just one setting. Rear Window is a testament to the idea that despite how close we are, we are just as equally far away.

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