Retro Review: Rear Window

He’s watching you. He knows everything your doing. Don’t worry its not big brother, its just Jimmy Stewart. The Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window focuses on L. B. Jefferies, also known as Jeff (played by Stewart).  Jeff is a travel photographer who injures his leg and is bound to a wheelchair with nothing to do but use his camera to spy on neighbors. Accompanied by girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter), Jeff becomes suspicious, and eventually positive that his neighbor, Lars Thurwood, murdered his wife.

Rear Window is a chilling suspense film that takes on the issues surrounding our own curiosities and voyeurism. Through the lens of his camera Jeff is able to gain an overall understanding of his neighborhood as each opposing window holds a different human story. Hitchcock always managed to push the boundary of film making with every movie he created, Rear Window is no different. Though the main character is disabled and the setting is stuck in one small apartment, the movie never lacks in action, or drama.

Jimmy Stewart, a veteran of Hitchcock films, pulls out another perfect portrayal as a man desperate for adventure.  His desires make him seem both ignorantly obsessed and strangely attractive. Grace Kelly also does a sensational job as Jeff’s girlfriend, a woman whose own desperation for Jeff to see her as the adventure he needs, leads her into some dangerous spots. What is truly remarkable about the film is its ability to tell multiple stories at once, yet come together at the end to form one grand idea. Amidst the intense drama that occurs within Rear Window stands a small Hitchcock gem, humor. As with many of his films he inserts humor at just the appropriate moment to bring in some much needed relief.

Hitchcock pulls out some of his best camera and editing techniques for this voyeuristic journey. As per his style Hitchcock opens the film with a panning establishing shot, as the camera moves around the small neighborhood courtyard, almost searching the windows for a story, eventually landing the audience to the main protagonist, Jeff.  All of the classic Hitchcock elements are wrapped up in this film from his use of close-ups to distorted aspect ratio. And as with all of his films, audiences make sure to keep an eye out for a guest appearance by the famed director within the film.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching an Alfred Hitchcock film before, Rear Window is the perfect starting point as it encompasses almost everything that makes a Hitchcock film fantastic. So as you sit down tonight to watch this film, maybe it’s best to keep your blinds down, and curtains shut, because you never know who could be peaking through your… Rear Window.


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