We're excited to present a great new set of boards to classic movie fans with tons of new features, stability, and performance.

If you’re new to the message boards, please “Register” to get started. If you want to learn more about the new boards, visit our FAQ.

Register

If you're a returning member, start by resetting your password to claim your old display name using your email address.

Re-Register

Thanks for your continued support of the TCM Message Boards.

X

Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

X

Jump to content


Photo

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


  • Please log in to reply
211 replies to this topic

#41 AmyV

AmyV

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 22 July 2017 - 11:20 PM

1. How would you describe the opening camera shot of this film?

It sweeps across the building on the other side of the courtyard, giving us a feel for what Jeff can constantly see as soon as he looks out the window.

What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film?

The interesting mix of characters all living within close proximity of one another and of Jeff.

Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window?

You might say it is our vantage point, as the voyeuristic observers who usually get to watch through Jeff's eyes, since this is largely the view outside from his apartment 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?  We learn that he is currently immobilized and from the photos and broken camera on the table/shelf, it could be that his current injury was obtained carrying out a photographic assignment. His backstory is given through the photos shown including the double negative and the magazine cover it was used for and, again, the broken camera.

 

3. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being a an immobile spectator?

Since my purpose when watching any motion picture is to observe the story, its characters, and what happens to them all, I never really thought of myself as a voyeur, but knowing we are watching scenes that Jeff is seeing, it does feel a little voyeuristic, by proxy.

What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into the other people’s apartments?  I certainly feel drawn right into those apartments, curious what they look like on the inside, curious about the people inhabiting them.

 

4. Bonus : if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic?  Not being an expert, it is difficult for me to say if it is his most cinematic, but i can see that it might be.  It is a sprawling set and interesting how the scenes across the courtyard are framed.  Also, the shots that are supposed to be looking through Jeff's telephoto lens, the way it is done with black around the edges, as if we are looking through the lens, very creative POV shots.

 



#42 MrNews

MrNews

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
  • LocationTampa Bay

Posted 22 July 2017 - 10:13 PM

  1. Why is this story titled "Rear Window?" This is obviously the front window (there are no others) in Jeff's apartment, so is it that he is watching the rear windows of other apartments? Not likely, as these portals all seem like front windows. Is it the rear window, as in seeing what is behind you, rather than in front of you? Looking into the backyard of life? A mystery.
  2. Some say Hitchcock was most engaged during story development, script treatments, storyboarding and writing of a film, and became somewhat bored and impatient once filming began. Possibly apocryphal, but then why do both Stewart and Kelly blow a couple of lines, and Hitchcock LEAVES THEM IN. Perhaps he felt that it made them appear more natural (they do not actually sound like blown lines), or maybe he just didn't care!
  3. Personally, I do not feel like a voyeur at all, peering at all the ongoing lives of the people in these apartments. There's no harm in knowing what other people around you are up to, and it's actually interesting. In fact, isn't that what movies are all about? Don't we watch films in order to find out stuff and vicariously get involved with other people's lives? So maybe Hitchcock is teasing...
  4. Cinematic?  Not in a Big City minute! This is a stage play- we never see anything outside of Jeff's apartment and the courtyard. "Cinema" has its roots in the Latin/Greek word for movement (kinema), and, although the camera (and Jeff's) view moves around a lot, his body does not (except for his defenestration at the end). Food for thought (from "21"), but then I'm not much of a snifter.

  • TrafikRptr likes this

#43 Jennifer Anne

Jennifer Anne

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • LocationCanada

Posted 22 July 2017 - 09:17 PM

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?

This opening shot speaks directly to the viewer--it's as if we are at Jeff's side while he sleeps and have opened the blinds in order to take in our surroundings. We not only get to see what Jeff sees but are made complicit in his voyeurism. In essence, the story--and its questionable voyeurism--begins with the audience and not with James Stewart.

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?
The smashed up camera is followed by the spectacular framed photo of a race car crash, explaining how Jeff came to break his leg. We also see camera equipment and other framed photos, followed by a negative and copies of a magazine cover. We know he has travelled extensively as a photographer and that he has also done fashion portraits (likely where he met Liza Freemont). He lives in a small, modestly furnished apartment in a crowded tenement block meaning he likely does not have much money. The prominence of his photographic equipment also shows that his work takes priority in his life.

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?

I first saw this movie when I was around 12 years old and the opening has always made me feel as though I'm looking into a dollhouse. Yes, you are getting glimpses into other people's lives, but it's as they are waking up in the morning and has always felt innocent to me. Only when we are first introduced to the newlyweds and eventually Miss Lonelyhearts does it start to feel more sinister and invasive.

Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I agree in the sense mentioned above in the curator's notes section, that it is his most cinematic in that he has created an entire self-contained world built around the movie camera. This world exists for the camera and is completed by its relationship to the viewer.
  • HEYMOE likes this

#44 Ann56

Ann56

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 22 July 2017 - 11:59 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?

Hitchcock is presenting this area as a living thriving microcosm of the city.  Since Jeff’s back is to us, the shot is giving us a glimpse of who lives in the buildings surrounding Jim and that their lives go on regardless of whether he is watching or not.  In other words, whatever is happening in the apartments is not dependent upon whether Jeff is watching or not.  Their lives go on. Therefore, it is our vantage point.

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?

The camera tracks across the apartment and we are given “glimpses” of his life:  a broken camera, many pictures of dangerous and destructive scenes, more cameras as well as photographic items, including the negative of a model who is gracing the cover of a magazine.

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?

Since the scene tracks through and really doesn’t stop for too long at any one apartment, It makes me feel like I am observing the lives of the people living in the other apartments around me.  It is neither positive nor negative…just there, much like it would be if you were walking down the sidewalk of a row of houses in a neighborhood and looked at the houses.  If the windows were open, then you would get a glimpse of their lives without prying.

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

Definitely.  The way everything is seen from Jeff’s POV and that when he sleeps, the lives of the others go on, leaving a gap in what he has seen and what happened. The tracking, the POV, the camera shots along with the acting seamlessly merges together into a film that can only be called a cinematic masterpiece.


  • HEYMOE likes this

#45 Soonya

Soonya

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 29 posts

Posted 22 July 2017 - 11:06 AM

The opening camera shot is exposition - setting, characters, culture, backstory. The POV may be similar to what in books would be third person limited - we the audience are limited to what Jeff can know.

We learn Jeff is disabled photographer.  I think of what I’ve heard commented on regarding Hitch’s penchant for leading men who are damaged / incompetent / broken. We are led to infer that it happened while shooting one of his dangerous assignments. I wonder how many days we are into the accident. Why didn’t he throw away the broken camera? Does he plan to repair it or send it out or keep it as a souvenir?  Is Jeff sentimental or is it a sort of trophy like the bomb picture - does he display them for himself or so that others will think he is “cool.” Of all the pictures that he must have taken over his career, why these? Why the negative image of the woman. Are women just as dangerous as race cars and explosions?

As this course progresses (and with help from another free course I’m also taking at this time - MIT The Film Experience with Professor Thorburg  

https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/literature/21l-011-the-film-experience-fall-2013/index.htm

I am becoming a more sophisticated / mature viewer; however, it’s questions like this that show me how far I’ve yet to go. I am still too passive when it comes to viewing movies. Books are my first language, so I’m trying to use my roots from reading and apply to watching movies. My analogy is I’ve been speaking Spanish since I was a kid (not true), and now in the past month, I’ve decided to learn French. In the past, whenever I heard French, I didn’t even try to figure out what they were saying because I didn’t  know French and it sounded like gibberish, but now I’ve learned they both are Romance languages so I’m starting to see connections and starting to try to understand.  


  • dan_quiterio and Jennifer Anne like this

#46 Thief12

Thief12

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 123 posts

Posted 22 July 2017 - 10:56 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 intention, I believe, is to first establish the environment and where we are. We can see that Jeff's apartment has pretty much a full view of the courtyard/paartments, we can see there is a heat wave, and it is established that we are together with Jeff in his apartment since it is our vantage point.

 

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?

 

We learn all we need. The writings on the cast tells you that he's a bit of a cynic, while the broken camera and the picture lets you in on what happened to him. The other pictures and cameras further establish him as a photographer, a daring one, and finally, the Grace Kelly pictures show us who Lisa is, even though we haven't met her yet.

 

I think it is interesting that he has a framed negative picture of her, as opposed to the actual picture in the magazine. Perhaps that serves a dual purpose: first, to establish that even though the world gets the Lisa that's in the magazine cover, he gets the real one (the one in the negative). However, I think it might also mean that the one he wants, the one he has in his frame, is an opposite.

 

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?

 

Yes. Particularly the closeups on the composer's home and Miss Torso (who happens to be naked). Like I said in the first question, we are right there with Jeff all the time.

 

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

 

First, I haven't seen the film in a couple of years, but I own it and have seen it several times (a rewatch is set for this weekend, probably). But anyway, I went and looked for the dictionary meaning of the word "cinematic" and found this:

 

"1: of, relating to, suggestive of, or suitable for motion pictures or the filming of motion pictures"

 

"2: filmed and presented as a motion picture"

 

I don't know if this is what Hitchcock had in mind, but the film does present itself as a motion picture. Jeff's window is the screen and the courtyard apartments are the films he is watching. So in that sense, I agree. You know you're watching a set, but it's a lively and impressive set. The residents are performers (Miss Torso is a dancer, the composer is a musician, Thorwald is the villain, etc.), and the dramas that he experiences through his window end up spilling into his real life when he gets too involved with the Thorwald mystery.

 



#47 fediukc1991

fediukc1991

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 33 posts

Posted 21 July 2017 - 08:16 PM

It opens as a audience's point of view, what the audience sees. The audience has a look of what Jeff is seeing. The opening camera shot is a single shot. We know that he works for a magazine and he might have had a accident during his adventure for the magazine. It makes me feel like a voyeur because I see the other neighbors, what they are doing. Through the camera, I feel like a peeping tom. I agree because it is such a different kind of film in how Hitchcock did.



#48 Catherine.g.ens

Catherine.g.ens

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 26 posts

Posted 21 July 2017 - 02:37 PM

The opening scene of Rear Window establishes the audience as the primary viewer, or voyeur. Rather than Jeff, who is asleep with his back to the window, it is we, the film audience, who are placed in the role of spectator. In some ways, it almost feels we are being forced into this position. From the very first shot, in which the camera slowly moves us from inside the apartment to the external view, framed consciously by the windows, we are being thrust into the role of a "Peeping Tom".
As we survey the various apartments, it becomes clear that the neighbors are unaware of being observed, as many of them are engaging in activities that we would only do in private. For example, the girl who is dressing and leans over in a revealing way towards us would probably be humiliated if she knew we had such a great view. Similarly, the couple who have been sleeping outside on their small balcony (probably due to the heat) would be mortified to learn that we can see their every move. By showing us such private moments, Hitchcock is making us feel uncomfortable but, in another way, intrigued. He appeals to the "Peeping Tom" he feels is in all of us.
This opening scene establishes the premise of the film beautifully and without any dialogue. Everything is shown to the audience through visual means. Like so many other Hitchcock opening scenes we have studied, he shows us, his audience, various clues in a particular order so that we are to make for ourselves a certain conclusion -- a conclusion that he intends us to make. The shot of Jeff with his brow perspiring is followed by a thermometer showing it to be an extremely hot day. The fact that he is asleep makes us feel he is somewhat struggling in the heat, and we empathize with him. Next, Hitchcock chooses to show his broken leg, followed by the camera and photographs revealing that Jeff is a travel photographer. All of this information is revealed to us visually.
From the start, therefore, we have our own set of eyes, as we are seeing things that Jeff cannot while he is alseep. However, we also connect with Jeff as the protagonist in a number of ways. We relate to his Peeping Tom habits because, before he even wakes up, we have already been engaging in them ourselves. I can't help but feel like a victim of one of Hitchcock's practical jokes. I can almost hear him laughing because he has us in the exact place he wants us. It is almost as if he catches us in the act of spying.
  • lilblue511 and Rebelbeats2 like this

#49 Cscharre

Cscharre

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts

Posted 21 July 2017 - 03:00 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? The opening shot establishes the POV of what will become Stewart's only outlet until his broken leg heals. The shot also points out Stewart's inability to move and how hot it is. We also see his profession with the panning of the photography equipment and his successful shots. By opening the shot with Stewart facing the apartment instead of the window, Hitchcock establishes Stewart doesn't care for any of the people in these apartments; nor does does he want to be in this apartment (he is in fact facing the door. A subscience idea to leave the apartment); and in a way Stewart's character knows he shouldn't just watch the neighbors. He knows that is becoming a peeping Tom.

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? His backstory is viewed from the shots of his camera equipment and photographs. We see the many cameras, followed by the adventurous shots, concluding with a published shot on the cover of a magazine. He probably broke his leg in such an adventurous shot.

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? As a patron going to the movie to see this film when it first came out, you don't consider yourself as being a voyeur because that's what watching a film is. It isn't until the apartment people start watching you back that you really feel the voyeurism you have been doing. As we see all of the other people in the complex, Hitchcock establishes the character make up of each. We see what each individual apartment dewellers concerns himself;herself or themselves with.

Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I'm not sure if this is cinematic or just someone given a great budget. He makes the most of it by building a great set. It is marvelous how Hitchcock does keep the viewer interested in a movie that feels like it has the limitations of a play. It is still fast paced even through the audience is confined to the apartment view of the main character.
  • lilblue511 likes this

#50 LThorwald

LThorwald

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts

Posted 20 July 2017 - 10:59 PM

1.  The opening camera shot is introducing us to the entire world of the film.  Although we don't know that the first time we see it, we are seeing the entire "world" that the movie will inhabit.  (Interestingly, just before this clips begin, the blinds are raised on these windows, almost like the curtains being opened at the beginning of a play.  

I think the pov being expressed is ours, the viewers.  Hitchcock is introducing the idea of audience as voyeur.  We are going to spy on the lives of the people who inhabit this small world, and L. B. Jeffries will be our surrogate.

 

2. One of Hitchcock's greatest gifts is in creating these opening scenes that establish the setting without dialogue.  He did it many times, but never better than here.  Keep in mind that the character establishment takes place all in the final 40 seconds of the shot!  We learn that he is wheelchair bound; we learn that he is a professional photographer, who got his injuries while attempting to take photos of an auto race; and we learn that he has also photographed a very attractive woman whose image is on the cover of a popular magazine.  Brilliantly done in well under a minute.

 

3.  This scene absolutely makes me feel like a voyeur, and I'm quite sure that was Hitchcock's intention.  It's rather like watching a performance, where the performers are not aware of the spectators. There is an odd sense of power in spying in the windows of all these people.  But of course, we can only look where Hitchcock points the camera.

 

4.  This is my favorite Hitchcock movie, and I have seen it at least 15 times.  I would call it his most perfect film, but I don't know that I would call it his most cinematic. One could also make a strong case for Vertigo, primarily because of the strong visual style and use of color.  Regardless, Rear Window is as well made a film as you will ever see.


  • lilblue511 likes this

#51 slp515

slp515

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts

Posted 20 July 2017 - 10:25 PM

Daily Dose #14: Here Lie the Broken Bones of L.B. Jefferies
Opening Scene of Rear Window (1954)

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?
- The opening shot of this film is giving the audience - through a window pane - a glimpse of an ordinary life of people who live in a city complex or apartment building -on a very hot day.
- Hitch establishes the fact that he wants the audience to come in to see for themselves the lives of city dwellers.

Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window?
- The vantage point expressed in this shot are the occupants in the apartment building. Even the pigeons on the roof of the building had a part in this production. The jazz music that accompanies the shots that tell what is happening in each apartment adds to the scene.

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?
- In this scene we learn that Jeff is hot, lives in a large city, confined to a wheelchair and he is a photographer.
- Hitchcock gives his audience clues to Jeff's backstory through visual design by panning the camera to give us a look at his old and new camera, photos framed and unframed and some he developed himself. Photos showing that he has been all around the world as well as fashion magazines from other countries.

3. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being an immobile spectator?
- At first I felt like I could have been spying on the people in that complex apartment and maybe back in those days, i would have. If this movie was made today i would say that I would not have felt like a voyeur

- What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments?

In the beginning of this film I felt as if I was being nosey and spying on the people in their apartments, but as the jazz music continued to play , it drew me into their lives, and I found myself enjoying the hot summer day with them.

4. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic?
- I saw this movie before. I do agree with Hitch that this film is his most cinematic because he himself used all the techniques of film making. For example: camera shots, close-ups, deep focus, framing, long shots, lightning, panning and POV shots to name a few.

#52 CaseInPoint

CaseInPoint

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts

Posted 20 July 2017 - 06:53 PM

  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?  To me, Hitch is guiding the gaze of the audience as voyeur, as they will become active participants of the voyeurism in the movie along with Jeffries.  We get acquainted with the 'world' outside Jeffries' window and get a glimpse of some of its inhabitants.  We linger on a brief shot of Jeff, we know it is summer and hot, and with the pan over a camera, photos of 'danger' (car wrecks, bombs going off, etc), we surmise he is a photographer who likely got hurt taking a dangerous shot.  So Hitch establishes an urban environment, summer and heat contributing to one windows, and an injured photographer confined to a chair.  Interestingly, the only shot we see that doesn't seem to portray danger is of the woman, first in negative then in actual print.  Or is this one just another FORM of danger???
  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? As mentioned above, the pan over the camera first, then over the photographs.  A viewer can make a connection between the visual content of the photos having something to do with Jeff being in a 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? The scene is, to me, definitely a POV tracking shot for the audience.  Hitch tempts us with just enough information about each window across the way and the inhabitants to want to see further in.  The sounds are amazing in this sequence, as well as the entire film, as well -- the music from the studio apartment, the radio ad, the alarm clock, children in the street.  The scene makes me want to see what's behind the other windows that are closed as well!
  4. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? Yes, as the audience shares the experience of Jeff in watching all the windows and the dramas unfolding within as 'little movie screens' across the way.  Hitch knows we are trapped in a theater seat and can't look away, much like Jeff.  The fact that Jeff looks through a camera adds to the motif of the film as being about watching drama in a cinematic way...with the participant observer choosing what to see in closeup or long shot, or static shot (slide viewer).  I think Vertigo is very cinematic as well, with the Scotty and Elster both making over the same woman as an actress to fit their needs and desires.


#53 Master Bates

Master Bates

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts

Posted 20 July 2017 - 05:39 PM

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 CONTINUOUS PAN that opens REAR WINDOW introduces us to the universe of the movie and serves as a microcosm of the world at large. We're briefly given an overview of all types of people seen going about (what they think are) their private lives.
But their lives aren't private. We are already peeping as the shot moves around the courtyard.

"L.B. Jefferies"/"Jeff" (Jimmy Stewart) is not only facing away from the apartments, he's asleep. Hitchcock is telling us in the very first scene that the point of view is ours: we are "peeping" even before Jeff wakes up. But then, "peeping" is something we do every time we watch any movie, or watch fellow passengers on a plane, or see our drunk neighbor watering her front yard flower beds in her sheer nightgown--in the rain! We don't have to look. But we do.

 

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?
 

THE CAMERA, CONTINUING its opening pan, tells us Jeff has a broken leg. In addition to his smashed-up leg, he owns a smashed-up camera, apparently smashed while he was gallivanting around the globe as an action news photographer. Photos on his apartment walls show car crashes, explosions, all action photos. The camera passes by a bevy of more camera equipment, further underlining he's a professional photographer. Still panning, the camera comes to the negative of the photo of a woman, a blonde--of course! Finally, we see that negative realized as a cover photo on a magazine that looks suspiciously like a copy of..."Life."
 

That negative is perhaps a hint at the negative relationship Jeff has with a high-fashion model--"Lisa" (Grace Kelly) whom, as the clip ends, we are about to meet.

 

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?
 

YES, I GUESS it does make me feel like a voyeur since I am looking into the lives of people in their abodes, people who think they have privacy. On the other hand, if they truly wanted privacy, why would they have their windows thrown wide open; sleep on the fire escape in full view of their neighbors; or, like "Miss Torso," dance in hot pants and halter top at the wide open kitchen window while making morning coffee? In other words, sometimes we can inadvertently be "peeping Toms" only because other people are exhibitionistic.
 

I'm wondering whether now, in this age of the Internet where there really is no privacy, if REAR WINDOW doesn't lose some of the punch it had upon its release six decades ago. Don't get me wrong, I love this movie, one of my favorite Hitchcock films.
In the Fifties in which REAR WINDOW takes place, people did lead more private lives than today. But I think much that's been written about voyeurism vis-a-vis REAR WINDOW no longer applies, not in the 21st Century, not when millions of people willingly "let it all hang out" on the Internet. (I mean, do I really need--or care--to know that someone's grandbaby has projectile diarrhea? And do I really want to see a photo of the poor little dehydrated thing?)

Then again, maybe Hitchcock's film was showing 60 years ago that privacy is an illusion, that people are always watching people--peeping--and always have been, with or without social media. Peeping, looking, watching--whatever you want to call it--is human nature.


 

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

 

SOME MIGHT ARGUE that NORTH BY NORTHWEST is more cinematic, with its vertiginous view of the plaza from atop the United Nations building; its wide open vista of flat, Midwestern cornfields and that buzzing crop-duster chasing Cary Grant; or its climactic chase across the faces of Mt. Rushmore.
But I think REAR WINDOW beats it in the cinematic sweepstakes. It's cinematic, however, in a totally different way. There are no wide-open, on-location vistas because REAR WINDOW takes place on a constructed set, the largest ever built for Hitchcock, with everything observable from the vantage point of Jeff's apartment. But within that set of myriad apartments--some furnished, supplied with electricity and move-in ready; each with fleshed-out secondary characters--Hitchcock had absolute control over how his camera would tie them all together, creating a believable world in the make-believe world of a Hollywood studio.
 

Furthermore, REAR WINDOW comments on the very act of watching--even the making of--a movie. With Jeff as our on-screen surrogate, we gaze through his camera. He (we) is (are) directing where the camera will go. From apartment to apartment we pan--or jump--lingering on each long enough to glean information before moving on to another. Along with Jeff, we are not only directing the film; we are also editing/cutting as we go. We jump from one apartment to another, essentially cutting the film. In life, this is how we see: with each turn of our head, or blink of our eyes, we are constantly editing reality.
 

Typical of Hitchcock, long stretches of REAR WINDOW are "pure film"; that is, the visual can be all we get, and all we need. Much of what we see in Jeff's neighbors' apartments is seen in mime, or dumbshow--no dialog required. In short, each apartment is a silent movie. As Jeff, and we, will see, it just so happens one of those silent movies is a horror film, replete with knives and saws and a trunk large enough to cart off a corpse.
 

If watched only on its surface, REAR WINDOW is hugely engaging and entertaining. We can't diss Jeff. Having spent his professional adulthood looking at life through cameras, what the hell else is he supposed to do, confined to his wheelchair and to his sweltering, claustrophobic apartment? Finally, we can't overlook the fact that it's Jimmy Stewart up there, the "Everyman" actor. We root for him because, after all, he's us.
 

REAR WINDOW is also a meditation on married vs. single life. Each of those little movies is essentially commenting on Jeff's anti-marriage stance vs. Lisa's pro-marriage views. She thinks Jeff should settle down as a society photographer in New York where she's a model swept up in the social whirl of the big city. Jeff can't imagine anything more boring. He'd rather roam the world in a constant effort to capture that perfect photograph.

Lisa, meanwhile, relates to "Miss Torso" having to fight off **** suitors when all she wants is for her short "Stanley" to return home from the military. Elsewhere, the newlywed couple give Jeff reason to want to avoid marriage at all costs: the sexually insatiable bride is constantly calling her new husband--"Haaaarrrrryyyy"--back to the bed. Jeff, at least as long as he's in that cast, is essentially paralyzed from the waist down. Hitchcock seems to stress this with Jeff's telephoto lens--a phallic symbol if ever there was one--as Jeff's only tool for experiencing Life--but at a distance.

Lisa moons over the music being worked out on the frustrated composer's piano. (By movie's end, that composition will be finished and, with lyrics, titled--what else?--"Lisa," sung over closing credits. This is Hollywood, after all, and closing songs were typical of the period.)
 

Finally, on a personal note, I know the following may appear a stretch, but it's the truth--at least as I see it: I never watch REAR WINDOW anymore without thinking about Giotto's fresco cycle in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. Both of the interior's side walls that lead from entrance to altar are lined with horizontal rows of individual panels, the panels depicting specific moments in the life of Christ and the life of the Virgin. Giotto was beginning to paint the human figure in three-dimensional space instead of the flat two-dimensions of the preceding Byzantine Era. His work would become, if you will, a hinge that would swing the Byzantine to the Renaissance, when the human figure, in well-rounded three dimensions, was practically jumping right off the canvas (think Caravaggio) or frescoed wall or ceiling (think Michelangelo).

Giotto's long rows of panels are like film strips, each panel a frame, like an individual frame of film. Of course, with static Italian fresco panels, you don't have the movement of a camera pan. However, as you walk down the middle aisle looking at the panels in sequence, you become the projector just as a projector running a strip animates the frames.

Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW apartments are like those individual fresco panels, letting us look in on the lives of others, seeing the drama, the comedy, the mundane going on in each one. It's as if the artist Giotto anticipated film 600 years before its development. After the development of film, Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW raised the daily, human act of merely observing to the level of art.


  • Catherine.g.ens and Sue Anne like this

#54 hussardo

hussardo

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts

Posted 20 July 2017 - 05:20 PM

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 gives a wholesome view of the set which gives us the impression that it's been shown from the audience's point of view.

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?

We are given Jeff's background story through his work which are pictures displayed throughout his apartment.

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?

The voyeur feel is certainly there, Hitchcock elicits the audience's curiosity to find out more, see more of the neighbors routine.
4. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic?

Yes I do, it's been a while since I've seen it, but in terms of production it is there at the top as his most cinematic.
  • Sue Anne likes this

#55 coleeva

coleeva

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 33 posts

Posted 20 July 2017 - 04:21 PM

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?
 
I would describe the opening shot as the point of view of the audience.  Hitchcock places the audience within the film by using this type of opening shot. Hitchcock shows not only what is occurring in each of the apartments, but also what is taking place on the street and what season impacts the actions of each of the apartment tenants and the people on the street. The vantage point in the opening shot is that of 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?
 
We learn that Jeff is confined to a wheelchair and that it is summer.  Also we learn the occupation of Jeff by the various photos and also we learn why Jeff is in a wheel chair by the broken camera equipment and the close-up of his broken leg.
 
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 scene does remind me or a voyeur because you as the audience is looking into the windows of the various tenants. 
 
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 seen this film in its entirety multiple times and I would agree that this film is indeed Hitchcock's most cinematic.
 
 
 


#56 agebha2

agebha2

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts

Posted 20 July 2017 - 01:23 PM

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 camera shot is one I love because I feel like you get a great sense of the scene without the need for someone to describe it. It sweeps over the apartment buildings, and gives us some insight into some of the (albeit minor) characters' daily lives. I believe Hitchcock is trying to establish the scene for the audience. While we get more in-depth looks into some of the individual apartments, this is the limit of the action. Essentially, this is the world for the purpose of this picture. Finally, If I had to chose anyone's vantage point, I would say that it is probably a director or God-type person's vantage point that is being expressed in this shot. The way the camera sweeps across the scene conveys an almost-omnipotent kind of feeling.

 

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?

 

The most obvious thing we learn is that he lives in a large city. Only in a large city are apartments that close together. From the cameras and framed photographs of interesting events, we can easily venture that he is a photographer of some sort. There is also an interesting item hung on his wall as the camera swings from Jeff to the camera that indicates he has traveled to exotic places. The negative and stack of magazines show us that one of his recent assignments was a fashion shoot as part of a "Special Report on Europe."

 

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?

 

While I don't exactly feel like a voyeur, by shooting through the frames of the window I can definitely get the sense of being an immobile spectator. I feel like I do most days, where I look out my window and see what is going on around me. In that way, the biggest feeling I get is a sense of normalcy. I don't necessarily feel like a Peeping Tom, just because so many films and television shows give us those same vantage points. Like Hitchcock said (heavily paraphrasing), we could easily look away from the action and not snoop, but we just don't want to.

 

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

 

I'm not sure if I understand what "cinematic" means in this case, but I can say that whenever I think of great films, invariably Rear Window comes to mind. There is also the commentary which has Jeff as a surrogate for Hitchcock, wherein they are both showing us the action from a fixed perspective, and focusing on the action they want us to see.



#57 nancykhoke@gmail.com

nancykhoke@gmail.com

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts

Posted 20 July 2017 - 11:38 AM

I love this film - it has been a favorite for many many years. The first time I saw it - I was in my teens and my sister and I were watching it in the basement family room. At the end as Jimmy is dangling from the window my sister and I are screaming at the screen. My parents came running downstairs certain that we were killing each other. 

 

But onto more serious reflections - the opening of the film tells you everything you need to know to about the main character. You know his name, how he broke his leg, what he does for a living, that he confined to a wheelchair, a brief view of the neighbors, and that it is hot! I just love it - in under a minute Hitch sets you up for the film gets you comfortable and sets you up for a really great story. It is a tale told with style and great dialog - especially Thelma Ritter! I just love her and to pair her with Grace Kelly - brilliant! 


  • Pop Leibel and dittietwin like this

#58 learnfodder

learnfodder

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 20 July 2017 - 10:11 AM

1. I would describe the opening shot of RW as exposition; it is introducing me to the set, to L.B. Jeffries and his apartment complex.  His back to his window leaves this first scan totally up to me.  I'm a spectator, but I am, now, a part of the story as such.  The music cues my feelings of being part of a light (perky?) albeit urban, early morning routine with the milk man delivery, kids at play (not at school + the heat = summer, yes?)  Even the cat is up and about.

 

The shot becomes more voyeuristic as it progresses to more intimate viewings,spending a little longer focused on individuals, moving from the people at a distance on the balcony to the man shaving, then the couple sleeping on their fire escape to the bare back of the young woman.  (note the nice urban touches of the trucks in the back of the set, the lone dog, even the pigeons and droppings on the roof) I am right at home.

 

2.I am also introduced to L.B. Jeffries who is not waking up, yet, probably because his leg is broken, so he is not going anywhere.  The camera shot sans dialogue tells me not only is he a photographer, but whatever broke his leg broke his camera, too; he is a vigorous photographer, see the shots he has taken before on the wall?  This accident wasn't a surprise; he's been in adventurous situations before--a bit on the daring side, probably a photo journalist.  The second camera testifies to his being a committed photographer, and clearly it is his profession as I can see from the negative developed into the magazine cover.  Does he know this blonde personally?

 

3. This scene does not make me feel voyeuristic, yet.  This kind of accessible intimacy is not unusual in apartment living.  You are always seeing and hearing snatches of your neighbors' lives, and not giving any of it a second thought.  It is only in considering the cast on Jeffries's leg and the limitations it implies that I begin to feel a little trapped.  

 

Instead of being voyeuristic, this opening scene reminds me of other city dwelling openings I have seen in movies.  It could be a Doris Day/James Garner film, or West Side Story.  It is the focus on Jeffries and his apartment that brings me into the room.

 

4. The most cinematic?  If this were a stage play, I'd be struck by the intricacies  of the set, so the film's intricacies leap out at me, but I'd have to review some other movies and rethink my definition of "cinematic" to answer this question.  Is RW the most movie movie I've seen by Hitchcock? One where I am aware that I'm watching a movie more than I am involved with the story?

 

I think the purest moment I have had being simultaneously in the story, but fully conscious of having a cinematic experience at the same time, is the plane scene in North By Northwest.  I will have to reconsider this question after seeing RW for a third time this Friday.



#59 SallyRenne

SallyRenne

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 27 posts
  • LocationBloomington, Indiana

Posted 20 July 2017 - 08:11 AM

A few supplemental notes I would like to add.  Being a professional photographer myself I find that Jeff having a framed negative is not out of the ordinary for a professional to display one of his images in a unique way and something he is proud of and I feel very sure it is not of Grace Kelly but from one of his model shoots.  On the question of voyeurism, I don’t feel we are invading anyone’s privacy if their windows are open and blinds pulled for anyone to see, the option for privacy is there but ignored.  With the exception of the newlyweds (and whatever they were doing) we only see the blinds drawn when something bad is going on out of our view, Miss Lonely Heart about to commit suicide and Lars Thorwald murdering his wife.  The rest of the complex doesn’t seem to care what we see.

 

If there were a Top Ten List for Kisses, I would award Grace Kelly with three of them. Though not included in our Rear Window daily dose but following that scene shortly is, for my money, one of the top, best cinematic kisses ever shot!  Grace Kelly moving towards the sleeping, wheelchair bound James Stewart, her shadow slowly covering his face as she bows to kiss him in slow motion.  Lisa Carol Freemont…

https://youtu.be/qsBXV8i_ZLM

 

I would also rank Grace Kelly’s surprisingly unexpected and very well placed kiss on Cary Grant after he sees her to her room in To Catch a Theif  (1955).    

https://youtu.be/3dg-73hAcBM

 

Fireworks & As long as you’re satisfied…

https://youtu.be/aNLmJ8gkb3c

Thank you for this information.  I was so trying to make the negative and the magazine cover look like Lisa Carol Fremont!  

Kissing scenes?  Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall.  "It's such a nice face, too."  http://tinyurl.com/ybrqq8ja



#60 cameos

cameos

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts

Posted 20 July 2017 - 07:54 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?

Hitchcock establishes Jefferies' world with the panoramic shot of the view across the courtyard.  The shot is almost a slice of life, albeit Jefferies' limited present life situation.  Many of the cast of characters in this world are shown.

------------------------------------------ 

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?

 

We quickly learn that Jeff is a photographer--the pan to the photographs, negative prints, the broken camera--and probably a fairly successful one, since his work has been published.  The pride of place of his work indicates its large importance in Jeff's life.  Also, his apartment looks like a bachelor's apartment, a lower middle-class or working-class apartment.

------------------------------------------

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?

 

I definitely feel like a voyeur watching the life of the building's tenants going about their daily lives not knowing they are being watched.

-----------------------------------------

 

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 seen this film, but not in a long time, so I don't feel I can answer, alas!






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users