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Blindspot: Rear Window

It’s hard not to be familiar with Alfred Hitchcock, even if you haven’t seen his work. He’s a well-known director, and has worked with various actors and actresses in the industry. The man’s work has been referenced in time and time again in other works, whether in cinema or in television shows. It’s hard not to be familiar with such works as Psycho or Vertigo. Rear Window is one of his famous films, referenced in different pop culture mediums. I went to the movie knowing its premise, but I never did find out the ending, hence the suspense wasn’t really spoiled for me. Was this the best movie as an introduction to Hitchcock’s work? Maybe. I’m not familiar with his overall style as this is the first of his work I’ve seen, but it did live up to a suspenseful take.

L.B. Jefferies is a photographer who has recently gotten into an accident, rendering him in a wheelchair for weeks. He spends his days at home, stationed by his rear window, watching his neighbors. His curiousity got the better of him when he heard a neighbor scream - and when he looked out hours later, he saw his neighbor Lars Thorwald leave his apartment thrice in the middle of the night. That morning, he had concluded that he must have murdered his wife, as LARS was acting eerily suspicious, and his wife was nowhere to be found. He shares his theories to Detective Doyle, his nurse Stella, and his girlfriend Lisa, and they assist him in uncovering the mystery behind his neighbor. 

What Rear Window manages to impart is the mere curiousity we have - that it’s in human nature, and we tend to make conclusions and theories based on the observations we arrive at, conclusions that further strengthen our theories. Curiousity can sometimes help us, but it can also get the better of us, and in this case, it’s both. The film itself was pretty straightforward. The opening scene presents the back story and the introduction to what will happen for the next hour and so. It doesn’t employ plenty of twists and turns, but rather focuses on a lengthly build up, sprinkling clues about their theory along the way. While some of the information had some logical answers, there were still questions left unanswered, further leading Jeffferies to investigate, even just by the helm of his window.

While the suspenseful feeling at the climax was very much spot on, the film could have used some brevity in terms of the build up because the final act seemed so rushed. It did take its time getting to know the rest of the neighborhood, and while there were significant findings in the scenes, it could have used some brevity. The film also tried to focus on the direction of the relationship Jefferies and Lisa had, but it just gets pushed aside in a latter part. It does get incorporated in the mystery he is trying to prove, but the basis could have been just established during the first parts and leave it at that, instead of dwelling on it further. 

I like how different camera angles were used, as it provides focus to the character and activity that’s currently ensuing on screen. The suspense was aptly paced considering the length, the clues and observations carefully laid out. The group was also given circumstances to navigate through, but the film doesn’t really pick up until the women start sneaking in the neighbor’s yard in an attempt to gather evidence against him.

Not only is this my first Hitchcock film, but it’s also my first James Stewart and Grace Kelly film. While both actors did good work on the film, I would prefer if my first film I’ve seen of theirs has more movement. However, given that the film was basically set in one area, they did good work in their confined space. Stewart was limited in terms of movement, but his character still had the conviction and urgency, especially when Kelly's character was just about to get caught in the act. Grace Kelly was glamorous, and it was hard not to take your eyes off her as she goes through the film. 

It was certainly a good film. It gave me a glimpse of how Hitchcock's style works, and how he perceives his films to be. It can use a bit of trimming, but maybe the length is part of his style, similar to Scorsese's lengthily films. 


Final Word: I'm not sure if this was the best film to start with in terms of Hitchcock's filmography, but a good film nonetheless.

Cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Year: 1954

Comments

  1. YES!!! Finally someone who sees the light at the end of this mediocre tunnel! This movie is so beloved and yet I just don't get it, and I LOVE Hitchcock! I recommend you get your hands on Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, North By Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Lifeboat and Notorious. His work is so layered and so effective, but this is NOT the best showcase for that.

    You hit every nail on the head. It just lingers too long in so many of the unimportant parts. Brevity would have been a real lifesaver.

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    1. Thank you for your suggestions! I'm not really sure on what else to see of Hitchcock's work, besides the popular referenced ones - but I'm not sure if Rear Window was a great place to start. It did offer that suspenseful feeling at the finale, but it spent too much time with the build up that it didn't give ample time for the final scenes.

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  2. Bummed you didn't like this one a little more, but I do see where you're coming from. I agree that this may not have been the best Hitchcock film to start with. It's very experimental and could easily come off as dull. But I honestly can't think what would be best to begin with. Psycho, perhaps. It's my personal favorite Hitch, and I really don't think you can go wrong with it.

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    1. Thank you for the suggestion! I started with Rear Window because I was watching something that referenced to it. I was actually saving up Psycho until I've seen a few more because it seems like his best work.

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  3. Like the others, I'm not sure what would make the greatest gateway drug for Hitch...though this isn't a bad choice. You liked it at least, so that's a good sign. I was always intrigued by the voyeuristic nature of the story, and how the characters think they can put together a story from the cheap seats...

    ...imagine what they'd do nowadays if they had social media to work with too!

    (Sidenote: I went down a similar tangent during yesterday's Freeze Frame post about CHINATOWN).

    Beyond the titles Fisti mentioned above, I'd also recommend Strangers on a Train, Rope, and Shadow of a Doubt. With the last one, make yourself a fun double-feature and watch it immediately after 2013's Stoker.

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    1. Thank you for the suggestions! I liked it, but it didn't wow me or anything. I think the style like this worked before because of the actors who were in the roles. I don't think it'll be the same if Hollywood remade this exact movie now (although there are already movies that exemplify similar themes) because there's so much technological advances that everything just becomes a really dated coincidence just to keep the mystery alive.

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