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Daily Dose #14: Here Lie the Broken Bones of L.B. Jefferies (Opening Scene of Rear Window)


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#201 12Ben6

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:35 AM

(1) As the camera pans around the courtyard, the viewer enters Jeff’s world.  The bustling and variety of the goings on remind me of an ant farm.  Since Jeff’s back is to the window, I consider the opening camera shot as that of an omniscient, silent “narrator.” 

 

(2) Based on the words on his cast—“Here lie the broken bones of L.B. Jeffries”—being lame, to Jeff, is akin to being dead.  He thrives on action, and inaction is torture to him.  We learn that he is a photographer and that there is an element of danger to his profession, as evidenced by the photo equipment in his apartment, the content of the photos hanging on the wall, and his current state of injury.

 

(3) Yes, I feel like a voyeur during this opening scene.  However, given that the opening scene occurs in the daytime, I don’t feel as guilty about peering in on the neighbors as I would if it were night.  Something about the daylight makes the voyeurism less intrusive, in my opinion.  The subjects the camera finds, i.e. the neighbors, illustrates that we all have our morning routines but that each of us lives a different life and has different struggles/obstacles and motivations.

 

(4) I have seen Rear Window at least three times.  I would agree that it is Hitch’s most cinematic.  The conceit, the design, the cinematography, everything about it is masterwork cinema.  I get something new out of every viewing of it.


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#202 TonyZao

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:07 AM

The opening scene isn't a Jeff's POV shot, yet the camera moves in an entirely voyeuristic way. It quickly shows us the entire field of action of the film, the apartments Jeff is able to look at through his camera and, finally, his own. Hitchcock gives us a taste of the claustrophobic, voyeuristic style of the entire film and wants to make us feel a guilty pleasure that we're watching all these people in their private lives.

 

Jeff is shown sweating, visibly dissatisfied with the fact he's unable to move because of his broken leg. The words written on his bandage is another display of Hitchcock's black humor. Afterwards, the camera moves to his apartment showing many photographs of important events, in order to let us know his profession, as well as fashion magazines. The first image we take of Jeff is one of a restless, adventurous man who is really bored to death because of his accident and tries to find a pastime fit to him.

 

Apart from the guilty pleasure I've already mentioned, the real feeling of watching a film comes to the mind in this scene. After all, when we're watching a film we are bound to our seats watching a story in which we have no part, and penetrating through the thoughts and feelings of the men involved. The way the camera moves through the apartment is disturbing and emphasizes these unique feeling.

 

I'm not sure if Rear Window is the most cinematic Hitchcock film, but it's certainly a strong candidate. It takes film back to its roots and meaning as "moving pictures", and this film is probably closer to the fundamental principles of "moving pictures" than anything else he's done.


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#203 dweigum

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 07:44 AM

1.  The opening scene takes the film audience from inside the "rear" window of an apartment and as the camera pans to the outside, into the courtyard and finally into the windows of the neighbors' apartments. Hitchcock is inviting us to participate as voyeurs in this particular neighborhood.  As spectators the camera creates for us a feeling of walking to the window to look outside.  We are seeing the courtyard, apartments, people, our POV shot as it were.  It is actually a reflection of a typical beginning of a day and the people we see are a reflection of a small cross section of ordinary people of various ages, sex, and relationships.  We also get our first introduction to the main character who has his back turned from the window as the camera brings us back into the room. We are provided more details about this man through an effective use of visual technique as there has been no dialogue to this point, just the radio in the background.

 

2, In this opening the camera pans to a man in a wheelchair and in a body and leg cast. We learn the man's name, L.B. Jeffries as it is written on his cast. The camera pans to his sweating brow and thermometer so we learn it is hot.  Sweeping across the room we see a smashed and broken camera, many graphic pictures, explosions, car crashes etc, establishing his work as a photographer who was most likely injured while on the job. This man under normal circumstances, involved in action, investigative journalism is now restricted by his injuries.

 

3. In the opening scene we have entered the world inside Jeffries' apartment and the windows of the neighbors, so yes we are now voyeurs. The fact that we are looking into other's windows is the definition of voyeurism, when the windows are open curiousity will get the better of us.

 

4. I think anytime you associate the word "most" with anything it's tough and in Hitchcock's case there are so many of his pictures through set design, the use of black and white photography, light and shadow, color, miniatures, location, clever camera techniques etc.  that are impressive.  I own a few Hitchcock film's so upon reflection I have to say of all of them Rear Window is the one I have re watched the most.  The set design, camera does most effectively create this small world to which we are invited and in many ways seems so familiar.  It is so successful in relating the screen experience into the everyday world of the audience i.e. feelings, fears, relationships of the audience while creating suspence and thrills and I think in this way it could be said to be the most cinematic.


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#204 johncrann

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 07:34 AM

1.    How would you describe the opening camera shot of this film? What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film? Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window?

 

The motion of the camera takes on the role of a viewer with great attention to detail. Scanning to and fro for colors, textures, movement, sounds, personalities and construction materials that all add up to a great compilation of character, which in effect, is the environment itself.

 

It appears to be Hitchcock’s vantage point and he is substituting himself into the role of the typical viewer in the audience.

 

2.    What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)? How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design?

 

It is clear that Jeff was injured in a job related incident. His room shows a broken camera and photographs of racing car wrecks and other dangerous circumstances. Additionally, we see a negative of a woman who is portrayed on the cover of a magazine, perhaps a friend or someone of interest to this photographer.

 

3.    Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments?

 

The opening sequence makes me feel like a visitor to Jeff’s apartment. The view is compelling enough that a person who is curious and alert might follow the same path as the camera. Scanning for details and taking in a unique cityscape that captures a lot of information about the environment that Jeff is living in.

 

4.    Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic?

 

I have not seen the entire film in many years. If Hitchcock says it is his most cinematic than it must be.


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#205 WadeWillsun

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 07:25 AM

My first thoughts looking through that window was 1) Hitchcock starts 'every' film with an 'Entrance' and 2) When God closes a door, he opens a window. I don't know why it was the first thing that popped into my head? But it was. Also it made me think of the plot about this man, down on his luck, looking outward to escape from it through his lens and his window.

The opening shot immediately begins to establish Hitchcock's notorious second player ensemble who will play a much larger role in the film than you'd originally suspect.

The view gives the audience an idea of what Jeff's vantage point is despite the fact his back is turned currently.

Everyone was just waking up themselves.

You know Jeff is the main character.

He's the most 'close' up to the camera.

The backstory looks sad for Jeff; crummy apt. broken bones, broken camera, a world trade photo journalist down in the dumps not being able to be at the scene of the next hot story/picture.

Surprised empty bottles weren't scattered everywhere.

Plus, it's HOT.

People sleeping on the balcony hot.

I've been there.

So you KNOW tempers will be flaring.

Sex too.

I didn't feel like a voyeur until the girl brushing her hair in the one window, has her bra pop off n she bends over to put it back on.

As innocent as it is in her home, to you, the looker, that could be crossing the line to her.

So, I think a mixed cast is in there.

Some are innocent.

Some are not.

If you 'look' at all, you become complicit to voyeurism.

 

I can't say if this film is his most cinematic.

But I do know it's well regarded.


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#206 Sue BBq

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 06:57 AM

  1. How would you describe the opening camera shot of this film? What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film? Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window?

The opening scene of this film is a trip around the courtyard that has become Jeff's life. The detail is amazing and the shot is amazing. I have watched this movie many times and did not take note of how the camera scans just as I would observing the cat, the birds on the roof, flowers, etc. in addition to the daily routines of the occupants of each apartment. Not only does this shot show us the apartment, but also glimpse into the busy city life of cars rushing by on the street and brilliantly there is enough room to peer into the coffee shop across the street. Hitchcock set an elaborate scene for a story. Jeff is resting, but we are provided a tour of his world.

 

 

  1. What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)? How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design?

 

It's quite simple to see that Jeff has been in some dangerous places with his camera and can deduce that the cast and the broken camera are obviously his last photo shoot. The accident, of course, caused by some dangerous situation. I'm thinking the "negative" of his girlfriend who ends up as a cover girl on a major fashion magazine makes a statement about how he feels about his relationship.

 

 

  1. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being a an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments?

It's totally a spectator shot. We don't have to move a muscle, not even our eyeballs to see an entire world.

 

  1. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic?

I love this film and have watched it many times without thought to how creative and masterful it has been executed.d


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#207 Alynia

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 06:46 AM

  1. How would you describe the opening camera shot of this film? What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film? Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window? -- The opening shot is an introduction to a world seen from a window. The viewer in this case since the character sleeps, has become the voyeur - we check in to see Jeffries is sleeping before we look again out the window, and then finally we look at him and his inner world.
  2. What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)? How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design? -- According to our tour of his room, Jeffries likes to take photos of damage, I thought he may have been a race car driver and that was how his leg was damaged... not being a fan of Jimmy Stewart, this is not a film I've seen, so don't recall the character easily. He also had a friend who has a sense of humor, hence the writing on the leg; but not a lot of friends as the cast is not written upon by several people... only the one. Which could also mean only one friend was honored enough to touch said cast.
  3. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being a an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments? -- More as a voyeur, a resident witnessing the morning routines of neighbors; because the camera moves its view, it doesn't create the effect of a immobile spectator; we are in the apartment with Jefferies, as if we were a guest waking up to the morning.
  4. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? -- I always agree with Hitchcock, it's his life... I'm just looking at him through a window.

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#208 Paul Tilburgs

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 06:18 AM

How would you describe the opening camera shot of this film? What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film? Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window?

 

Hitchcock seems to be setting the scene: first a cursory glance over the courtyard showing us the layout and then making clear that this the view out of the window of our protagonist. Next shot shows the heat and gives some closer shots of some of the neighbors, whose antics arouse our curiosity and even titillate us (shaving oneself in the sitting room, sleeping on the balcony, miss torso scarcely dressed and bending over, the leg stretching): we want to see/know more...

Even though Jeff's back is to the window, clearly this vantage point is from his point of view and, since he is the hero (we get more details about him: incapacitated with broken leg, professional photographer (action, danger, glamour) with whom we will sympathize/identify, also the audiences vantage point.

 

What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)? How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design?

 

He is a professional photographer of action (broken camera and pictures on the wall of accidents and explosions) and glamour (cover of magazine shows the glamour and the presence of negative of the cover photo indicates Jeff shot it). Being a man of action now confined to a chair because of the broken leg probably means he is bored out of his skull.

 

Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being a an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments?

 

Curiosity and titillation, see answer above.

 

Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic?

 

It has been quite some time since I saw the film last: I need to re-watch it first.



#209 dwallace

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 03:32 AM

This scene from Rear Window, brings us in as voyeurs also, more than just a passive audience.  The scene pans out from the room to the apartments across the court yard and then down, we see a cat going up the stairs, then a couple finishing dressing, as the camera pans back to the left, birds fly down diagonally from left to right.  A shot of a bathroom with a woman combing her hair.  Then back back into Jeff's room where he is lying, eyes closed, back to the rear window, face all sweaty.

 

This is not Jeff looking, this is us, we are now participants along with Jeff, no longer being just a passive audience, we are active in the voyeurism.  Quickly we go back out passing the thermometer showing 94 degrees.  We can see the musician, shaving, moving to fiddle with the dial of his radio.  The couple sleeping on the fire escape, their alarm going off and waking.  Then Miss Torso, comes out of the bathroom half dressed doing a bend to pickup and put on her bra, turning to us and doing leg scissors, with a number of birds congregated on her roof.  

 

As the camera pans left again we can see  a small street scene through the narrow alley the milkman is going through.  Then to the woman putting her pet bird outside and taking the cover off the cage.  Finally, pulling back into Jeff's room, Still sleeping, sweating in the heat, down to leg in a cast signed "Here lie the bones of L. B. Jefferies".  Then a pan over to broken, smashed camera, and possible the shot that got him hurt and camera destroyed, of a race car crash head on in front of the photographer, then panning over more pictures that show the dangerous work that Jeff does.  Finally a negative of a model, that ended up on a magazine cover with caption "Paris Fashions".  We know knew the work Jeff does, why he is in the cast, and a foreshadow of how he met Grace Kelley.  

 

All the elements are there though for us to want to get back to looking out the rear window.  What might we miss.  That is where action will be taking place, stairs, cat, birds tell us that.  

 

1954 in technicolor films the "color consultant" is still listed.  To make a technicolor film had to rent equipment and hire a color consultant.  They made the decision of what colors went or did not go in a scene.  Herbert Kalmus invented it, and kept close control of it, and it gave his ex-wife and partner a job, and she could make things difficult for directors with her demands on color schemes.  By 1954 she is no longer involved and on this film Richard Muller did that role.


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#210 Jon Severino

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 02:52 AM

DAILY DOSE #14 (Rear Window).

 

THE LADY'S DANISHES:

 

1. This shot establishes the audience's omniscient POV (or a director's who's proud of his slice-of-city-life set).

2. Jeff is a professional photographer with a dark sense of humor (based on the framed negative).

3. This scene evokes the feeling of wanting to buy binoculars.

4. Yes, this isn't Hitchcock's best film but I've seen it more times than any other.


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#211 BrianBlake

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 11:36 PM

1. The credit sequence definitely positions us in a vantage point similar to Stewart's character, peering out in the neighborhood. And Waxman's music indicates a playful glee as the shadow blinds go up one by one. That's followed up by a forward tracking shot that seems like the pov of someone bending down to roll forward in a wheelchair and then leaning/peeping out by the window. I believe the vantage point in the next  shot scanning through the neighborhood, while you could speculate it's Jeff (and that the camera comes back onto him once he's turned back around), is that it's viewer him/herself being positioned into a neighborhood watcher role from this apartment, peeping out into others lives and scanning what's going on. But by focusing on Jeff in close-up and returning to him and then scanning through his apartment, it's established that Jeff is the anchor and most important figure in the movie in terms of POV. In particular, the cut from Stewart's sweaty face over to the thermostat with the heat and then darting to different neighbors within his eyesight helps convey the movie is oriented around his experience.

2. I love this type of visual storytelling. It's so much better than clunky exposition. The smashed cameras, the images of racing car crashes on a track and calamity, and the same magazines stacked provides the backstory of Jeff's job and presumably how he ended up with a broken leg in a cast.

3. I'd lean more toward spectator than voyeur at this stage of the movie. The overall impression is more one of looking out and scanning through different things of interest and getting a sense of the landscape, rather than really focusing on certain subject in that landscape (with the possible exception of the half naked blonde, but the camera doesn't linger that long on her before moving away, although it clearly stops when she's the most visible and active person in the frame, and then in the next scene we'll get editing to signal Jeff is looking out again as she's bending over again...which you could say foreshadows the voyeur/creeper part to this story beyond just how he's a snoop)

4. To me, not in the sense of "pure cinema," because my sense of what Hitchcock means by the term is that just watching on silent, with maybe some score, you'd understand almost all the story and character dynamics. I don't think that's the case because of how the dialogue actually is quite strong for developing that Grace Kelly and James Stewart relationship and how the plot keeps moving. But I do think it's the most cinematic in the sense of a voyeur/peeping tom and constantly being positioned in the action. It seems strange to me that Hitchcock pulled this movie from circulation if he truly thought it was his most cinematic, unless he had personal issues with it or later issues with the stars.  (sidebar: I might have to compare watching Raiders of the Lost Ark the B&W version Soderbergh put out to this movie on silent to see if my intial assessment, here, holds up.)


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#212 Dr. Rich Edwards

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 10:07 PM

Today's Daily Dose is the opening scene from 1954's classic REAR WINDOW.

 

Watch the clip over at the Canvas course, and then come over to the TCM message board and record your reflections, read other people's observations, and share your thoughts about this film's amazing opening scene.

 

Here are 3 questions (with a bonus question for today!) to get you started:
 

  1. How would you describe the opening camera shot of this film? What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film? Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window?
  2. What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)? How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design?
  3. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being a an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments?
  4. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic?

Richard Edwards, PhD

Ball State University

Instructor: TCM Presents: The Master of Suspense: 50 Years of Hitchcock (2017)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies (2016)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (2015)

 

 





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