Rear Window, by the infamous Alfred Hitchcock, takes its roots from the short story “It had to be Murder” by Cornell Woolrich. “It had to be Murder” is a story seen through the eyes of a man who we barely get any background story about, in fact we don’t even get his name until about two pages in, because the story isn’t really about him. Hal Jeffries has broken his leg and has to stay at home until it gets better, as a man who doesn’t take any interest in reading books or any other activities, he takes to watching his neighbors. Day in and day out, Hal watches his neighbors, and eventually becomes accustomed to all of their little ticks and norms. Hal knows his neighbors daily schedule so well that one day when he notices his neighbor Lars Thorwald acting a little bit off, he becomes suspicious. Long story short, Hal believes that Mr. Thorwald killed his wife and although he has no evidence calls the police on him, who also in turn can find no evidence. Hal decides to reveal the culprit himself, he leaves a note saying that he knows what Lars has done, and then goes even further to “ransack” his house and call him saying they know how he killed her. Eventually Lars finds out that Hal is watching him, and goes over to his house to ‘dispose’ of him. However he is thwarted by Hal’s wits and his detective friend’s gun. They find the wife (who is dead, if you haven’t guessed by now) and although Lars dies in the end they give the credit to Hal for having an awkward peeping tom life and correct suspicions.
But the real visual review is about the movie, which like all stories turned movies, keeps the basis and adds a bit more to intrigue the audience. A bit more meaning Grace Kelly of course.
The first thing that I noticed about this movie was the dramatic lighting, I mean just look at Grace Kelly up there, she knows where the light is shining. Another example is towards the end when Lars decides that his new profession is as a New York gangster, and that he should get rid of all his witnesses. Although he is very much the amateur murderer, by not even having an escape plan, slowly (painstakingly slow) walking towards his victim, and trying to throw him out the window.
Sadly I couldn’t find all of the pictures in this scene where the famous Hitchcock lighting dramatizes the scene better
the Expendables could learn a thing or two about subtle dramatic scenes from Hitchcock.
The second most important visual aspect of the movie, were the paning and the wide shots, which there were plenty of.
Many of the wide shots help center the window, which Hal is looking at, and the person that lives there. Also the windows play a big part in ‘framing’ the shot. (see what I did there?)
Most of the tenants sit directly in the center of the window, or at least are moving within the frames of the window. I would just like to point out that in the movie all of the tenants’ windows are completely open all the time, and although Hitchcock makes it clear that it’s extremely hot out. I still don’t understand why everyone, every single person, would have their windows open like this. But then again, it is a movie.
Lastly, I love the way that Hitchcock uses negative space, not only to make the scene dramatic, but also to make the scenes going in the windows more vivid. Sadly, I couldn’t find any good pictures of these scenes, your just going to have to take my word on it (you get a bit of it in the featured image, at the Worldly Wiley menu). For example, there is a scene when Hal is looking in on Lars and his wife, the room is light blue and the bricks around the window are dark with a red brick tinge. This effect definitely brings your eyes to the center of the screen, not that you would be looking anywhere else.
This movie is absolutely classy, and strangely reminds me of a movie I’ve seen before. I can’t really put my finger on it . . .
I wonder where they got the idea for this movie poster? I suppose we will never know.
People looking directly at you like this, will always be creepy.