Free Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window Film Essay Sample
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The film Rear Window is because its formal structure underscores its meaning. Though too claustrophobic to equal his best movies, Rear Window nails all the themes that reoccur throughout Hitchcock's work. As Jimmy Stewart unties a mystery, much of the film is without conversation. Between the intriguing camera shots and Stewart's facial appearances, the audience must presume what exactly is going on for themselves.
There is a strong indication through analysis that Rear Window is one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films because it is one of the films Hitchcock spoke of with the most unmitigated pleasure and more frequently referring to it as being his most successful experiments in pure cinema (Fawell 1). However there are a few critics who have negative opinions about the film. Fawell says that a good example is Claude Chabrol who says that Rear Window was the film that answered those who questioned Hitchcock's seriousness.
Rear window give the viewers satisfaction of greeting the piteous blindness of the skeptics with a gentle as well as compassionate hilarity (Fawell 1). Rear Window in a glance gives the viewer entertaining and richly complex ideas and thus it is the perfect blend of Hitchcock's complexity and commercial success. Rear Window fate is highly depended on its castings choices and two of his favorite stars for this film who include Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. In this film we note that Stewart appeared to be Hitchcock's choice for his most personal roles while Kelly was his dream girl par excellence (Fawell 1).
In Rear Window Kelly acts as the actress to which all consequent actresses never quite measures up. Fawell also says that "in this film Hitchcock was so inspired with his leading lady's glamour" (2). He also played with that glamour in very creative way thus making Rear Window one of the film's principles themes. Rear Window was written for the screen particularly the Hitchcock screen because the story is strikingly visual. Fawell says that "it comprises the whole characters Hal Jefferies, observation of his neighbors through the windows in the building across his own courtyard" (2). The opening and closing shots link a survey of the characters in the courtyard to the back of Jeff's head which faces out the rear window. Belton says that "the implication of this is that what he sees through this window is an extension of his unconscious mind" (16). Through the conscious activity of his gaze Jeff attempts to make sense out of unusual, enigmatic, puzzling, and irrational occurrences (Belton 16).
The film is also made to comprise both Hitchcock's voyeuristic technique and his preoccupation with the subject of voyeurism. Fawell indicates that the Rear Window limits the viewers viewpoint so much to what Hitchcock's hero can see in Nevins's opinion to a real translation of the story's material to visual terms (2). The Rear Window presents the viewer with the fiction that Jefferies was operating much of the time as a kind of highly observant camera. It also has expert overlapping of sound and image to a point where the viewers have a peculiar feeling of watching the murderer Lars Thorwald through his window while talking on the phone to the detective friend whose aid he had enlisted (Fawell 3)
The film has three-cornered arrangement of sight sound and observer. Fawell says that "Hitchcock clearly articulates a sense of excitement to the viewers through the relationship between sound and image in much the same way he was inspired with visual images" (3). Hitchcock gives the screenwriter John Michel Hayes who with actress Kelly is responsible for the lighter touch, the greater warmth, and charm of the film. The film incorporates the ability of the writer to shade and deepen his characters (Fawell 3).
Some the characteristics of Rear Window film are that is a single set film with subsequently a strong sense of unity. Fawell says that "the film set is a great deal more complex than that of either Rope or Lifeboat" (3). Another characteristic of the film is that viewers can get a hint of what is to come because of its colorful city space diorama that fills the window. In the film we also note that Hitchcock wafts up the window into an entire set with thirty one apartments in which the viewers can observe that eight of them are fully furnished and besides that we look at from Jeff's window (Fawell 3). The film is therefore backed by an ever changing cyclorama. At the same time we notice that Rear Window is an unusual marriage of stasis and movement at the same time. Fawell established that "this is because the film has the unity of the single set films but with the variety of apartments to choose from some of Hitchcock's most colorful design, elegant tracking shots, and delicate montage" (3).
Using Jeff as a surrogate filmgoer or filmmaker makes Rear Window to appear as self reflexivity. Another important characteristic of this film is that despite Hitchcock's famous visual stylist, the sound track of Rear Window appears to be so emotive and so meticulously laid and instinctually rhythmic in such a manner that it competes at an equal level with the images. Fawell say that the film background music and sound track success lies in Hitchcock's careful attention to the rhythm and arrangement of natural sounds (5).
Rear Window presents to us a strong sense of the ubiquity of evil and in addition the hidden criminality in all of the people. Fawell says that "the film has a reputation as a pessimist and as one of the carefully nourished in interviews" (5). Rear window film also brings about the feeling of deep empathy because of its quite sensitivity with which the author Hitchcock registers in the areas of sound and images thus the feeling of human loneliness and alienation (Fawell 5).
Those critical about the film also note that there a certain pessimism, or a sense of mean-spiritedness in the way in which Hitchcock cultivates a voyeurism in his audience and then punishes them for that voyeurism (Fawell 5). This is for example depicted in Stella's famous speech to Jeff about how they had become a nation of Peeping Toms. This is the Hitchcock's tendency to film in a voyeuristic style also has its health implications. This is because according to Fawell it is through his peeping that Jeff solves Mrs. Thorwald's murder and also gains a more human quality, a greater sense of other people's vulnerability especially that of Lisa (Fawell 5).
Moreover, through Rear Windows voyeuristic style the film becomes more nourishing to than demeaning for the viewer. Fawell comments that "our glimpses into other people's lives in Rear Window tend to leave us feeling more aware of the way in which people suffer in close proximity to one another, more sensitive to the sights and sounds of loneliness in our own world" (5). Through this film Hitchcock peeps on his subjects but he also feels for them as we feel (Fawell 6). Rear Window is also useful in revising men's and other people's attitudes towards women. In addition, Fawell says that the film denotes an unambiguous, and sometimes even vicious, broadside on the male psyche and male sexual insecurity (6). Fawell says that analytically, the film represents a kind of ode to feminine wisdom and style an appreciation of women that avoids the condescension or paternalism that Hitchcock consequently showed in his interviews.
Furthermore, Belton says that the virtues of the film Rear Window are clearly visible for all the audience to see (1). It is depicted as an exemplary instance of commercial motion picture pursuit. The film through its subject matter it lacks the epic proportions of that era's big budget biblical spectacles, costume pictures or western hence its basic is pure spectacle. The film also has a longstanding but critical interest in the art of costume design blossomed.
According to Belton, the Rear Window on a purely visual level, its set and costume design provides the observers with something interesting to look at (4). In addition Belton says that Rear Windows story and theme build on this highly visible base, exploiting and exploring the nature of spectacle (Belton 4). The film attains this by exploring more important aspects of the association between spectator and spectacle and at the same time between the movies voyeur-hero and what the viewer sees. It further addresses the concepts of voyeurism and exhibitionism and puts into consideration the nature of their interrelationships.
Rear Window is similarly entertaining. Belton says that the film brings together an engagingly suspenseful murder imagination and mystery with a seductively sexy love story that features two of the decade's most attractive stars who include the well known James Stewart and the relative newcomer Grace Kelly (6). In the film important aspects of persona frequently play a role in the stories and themes of the film because many motion pictures and the role played by the biography of the director remain more problematic. Also the thematic concerns of the film cannot be reduced to biography (Belton 7).
Consequently, the film is as much a product of Hitchcock creative personnel. Belton says that the narrative deftly alternates back and forth between murder mystery and love story and thus intertwining the two through the theme of voyeurism (7). Rear Window also shows the hero's voyeurism and links two plot lines which include heterosexual romance and the other revolving around work, war and a mission or quest. In this context, we note that the film Rear Window is clearly related to the murder mystery which Hitchcock pieces together by looking out his window. Belton commented that "the film is connected to his relationship with the heroine" (7).
It is important to observe from the film that by refusing to commit himself to a love relationship, Jeff prefers looking out his window at his neighbors across the way to looking out his window at his neighbors across the way to looking at Lisa, the beautiful blonde who is in the same room with him and who repeatedly throws herself at him (Belton 7). From the film Belton says that "Jeff opts for a one-way relationship based on voyeurism instead of a two-way relationship rooted in mutual regard, recognition, and concern; he would rather look than love" (7). It can be noted that Lisa gives a willing exhibitionism in answer to his voyeurism she wants to display herself to him. The film also repeatedly opposes its two main attractions, that is Lisa and the murder mystery and Jeff routinely turns his gaze from Lisa and focuses instead on events across the way (Belton 7).
It can be noticed that in the film Rear Window, Lisa's self display is an attempt to control Jeff's gaze. Belton says that Jeff instead opposes her strategy and tries to force Lisa to leave her attempts to control his gaze and to submit herself to his gaze before joining him in his voyeuristic activities (8). This means that Jeff wants to dominate her while at the stage. Also it can be noted from the film that Jeff refuses Lisa's attempts to make him happy and is deliberately rude to her after dinner, by insisting to her to shut up and let him talk. Belton commented that "Jeff toys to her, rejecting her marriage proposal but yet remains unwilling to break off their affair" (8).
In the film Rear Window the murder mystery provides the star with an obsessive interest that he uses to avoid participation in the love story. Belton says that this works as a way of working out the tensions in that relationship (8). Also observers can realize that what Jeff represses in his relationship with Lisa is worked out in the actions seen across the way. Belton also indicated that "Thorwald's apparent murder of a nagging, invalid wife serves as a release of sorts for the hero from the threat posed by the heroine who has the immobilized hero at her mercy" (8). We note that Jeff works out his emotions for Lisa by outwardly refusing his personification with Thorwald by often rejecting to give up his belief in Thorwald's guilt.
Rear Window can be described as a view onto unconscious desire. Belton indicates that this means it looks into the back of the mind and at what it conceals (9). He further says that the eye in the film for poets acts as a window into the soul and thus it is the front window. Belton clarifies that the unconscious mind which opens onto a different terrain of desires functions as a rear window in that it sees what the eye does not (9). In this context the film rear window explorers the association between these two windows between what the eyes sees and what the mind desires (Belton 9). In this case, Jeff sees the evidence of murder is what his mind unconsciously desires from his perspective.
The action of the film Rear Window becomes a drama of catharsis. Belton says that "this is because the purgation of his fears and desires by means of acting out of them" (9). The implication from the film is that his cure is achieved quite appropriately, when Thorwald pushes him out of his rear window and dragged down by the weight of his own body (Belton 9).
The film is further seen as a self reflexive work. According to Belton the film is about looking because Jeff serves as a surrogate for the viewer. Belton further says that seated in his chair and unable to move, Jeff looks through a frame that looks like that of the screen, at the events that are taking place in a distant place. This means that his major activity is like that of a real observer as he attempts to make sense out of to read what he sees (Belton, 13). In this case he thus comes up with a narrative out of the disparate actions that occur within his view. Belton says that the Rear Window film is constructed around instances of repetition and variation of motifs and particular shots (13).
Besides the above perspectives of Rear Window it is classically Aristotelian. Belton says that "the film has a beginning, middle, and an end and also it observes the general Aristotlean unities which include unity of action, unity of place, and given some ellipses, unity of time" (13). These aspects of time the beginning, middle and end punctuate the narrative in a fairly obvious theatrical way. Belton also says that rear window functions quite literally to mark the stages of the film's narrative progression (14). On the other hand, Hanson says that the film rear window frames its vision of desire as a desire for an end vision (93).
In conclusion, Hanson says that Rear window has a structural fascination with questions of development and birth. From the analytical perspective film has a broad range of understanding with the characters presenting the viewer's with entertaining ideologies. In this account the film presents to the critics unsatisfactorily realized figure for the genesis of a cultural artifact that specifies lack of structure as the threat to its fully achieved identity (Hanson 90). The films credit sequence begins with the rear window and with the raising of its three bamboo curtains to disclose the courtyard beyond Jeff's window and it ends with the lowering of these three curtains. Finally, Fawell says that the Rear Window film presents a strong response to the critics who indicate that Hitchcock's films are too immaculate so highly unified and tightly build as to be lifeless. It is thus considered as one of his firmly structured films due to its significant use of colors, costumes and its characteristic rhythms of its sound track.