After live tweeting to/with Rear Window on TCM--mainly about the idea of the movie as a dream--the image of the framed photograph negative and the stack of magazines that end the opening scene kept coming to mind. I also tweeted about the concept of all of the different neighbors reflecting some aspect of Jeff and Lisa's relationship; usually in a negative way. Ultimately, with Jeff mirroring Thorwald and Lisa, Mrs. Thorwald. Remember, this is in the context of a dream, and also that in mirrors, the image you see is always reversed.
This is one of the Hitchcock films that I've seen the most--probably 50 times, with 5 or 6 of those times being in an old Paramount movie palace--but this is the first time I thought of the framed negative and the stack of magazines as anything more than showing another aspect of Jeff's photography. But look at that negative image and the way it is introduced:
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After seeing the smashed camera, and several photographs capturing danger and violence, we see a whole camera and then a close-up of the negative. In a way, that camera, with its flashbulb intact, represents danger, since flashbulbs will later be used as a defensive weapon by Jeff.
Of course, the model in the image, represents Lisa--both in general appearance, style and elegance. Yet her character is first intimated as a "negative".
Then the camera glides over it to rest on the stack of magazines; revealing the photograph that was created by the negative, on the cover of a magazine.
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For some reason, I always thought this was a stack of the same issue of the magazine: all having the model on the cover. As if it was the most recent issue or a recent shot or something he was particularly proud of. The fact that the negative was framed and the magazine is on top suggest these thoughts. Also, did Lisa get him the assignment? Did Lisa have the photo negative framed?
I never noticed the other stack of magazines right beside the first, obviously all of the same magazine--the one Jeff works for. It seems to be something like Life magazine. The title is either obscured or not there at all. What I always thought was the leaf of a houseplant covered the top of the magazine. However, in the still shot you can see it's actual strips of negatives that lie across the top of the cover--again marring the image with a subtle negative connotation. The strips even gently move up and down at the end (so there's either a fan in the room or a slight breeze--thank goodness).
In any event, the character of Lisa (who wasn't in the original story) is foreshadowed first by this negative image, this opposite image. It appears to symbolize the threat she will represent to his work and the danger she might create in his Life (i.e. marriage). Again, appearing as subconscious dream thoughts, ideas, images.
This is all tied together brilliantly, in the scenes where Lisa proves her sense of adventure--particularly by entering Thorwald's apartment and finding Mrs. Thorwald's wedding ring; thereby proving herself capable of Jeff's lifestyle. When Lisa draws Jeff's attention to the wedding ring on her left hand (seeming to beckon to him),
and Thorwald notices it too--then looks up to Jeff...In that moment of horror and discovery, Jeff and Thorwald are most closely associated or mirrored or similar. Jeff seeing Lisa in a wedding ring--Mrs. Thorwald's wedding ring--almost puts him in Thorwald's shoes. Jeff's greatest fear, marriage, seems almost inevitable. Jeff, in this dream, now recognizes he will become as Thorwald. (The wedding ring, don't forget, in this case, is also evidence of a murder, a death.) And all of Jeff's complaints, negative descriptions, and disparaging remarks on marriage will now apply to him, as well. Jeff and Lisa's fate will now be the same as Mr. and Mrs. Thorwald: "Until death do us part."