Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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The opening camera shots in the film provide a good bit of information.  We go outward from an open window into a world in microcosm; the courtyard is full of slices of life.  We are taken back to Jeff and are shown he is disabled, so we understand him as a part of the scene, but forced to be.  We are shown his photos so we know his profession;  note the image of Lisa is both in negative and positive form.  We are given a hint that there are conflicts in his life and he is in limbo at the moment, trapped.

 

The views of other people seem merely curious at first, just something we note in passing.  As the film progresses, however, the rear window peeping becomes more cringing, unhealthy, like people watching an accident scene.  

 

I'm not sure whether I truly agree with this film as most cinematic.  It is surely well done artistically and technically, and maybe that is what pleased Hitchcock the most.   With his films, "masterpiece" becomes a common thread.

 

When my daughter moved to a large city apartment, she said the courtyard view was "Rear Window".  I was so proud of her!

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1)      I would describe the opening shot as a well thought out and smooth because it helps establish where the majority of picture will take place, who will be involved and from whose perspective we, the audience, will see it from. I would say that the vantage point might be that of an innocent spectator who lives in the same building as Jeff.

 

2)      We learn a lot about Jeff in this scene. The information about his job, and possibly how he got injured, are shown to us through the broken camera and the pictures of race cars that are up close. We also learn that a favorite topic of his seems to be women, since there was an exposure of a woman’s portrait that sat next to the magazine where the picture came from and because several women are focused on in the movie itself: Ms. Lonely-hearts, Ms. Torso, Lisa, Lars’s wife, etc.

 

3)      I do feel like I’m a peeping tom, when watching this scene. The reaction that Hitch’s methods elicit from me are that of wanting to turn away from the scenes and give those people privacy, but I also feel like I want to watch, like how Hitch talked about all people are pepping toms.

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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?

 

From the beginning (after the opening credits), we move with the camera through Jeff’s window overlooking the courtyard in the early morning. We don’t know him or that this is his home, yet, but… this sets up our own location. The fact that we do not move from this position, tells us that we are on Team Jeff… stuck here in the room with him until further notice. :-)

 

This is our (audience) primary POV, but with the understanding that we are seeing the world through Jeff’s POV. We don’t know who “we” (Jeff) are, yet… but when we get the close-up view of him, we know he’s the guy we’ll be rooting for or concerned about… because of our proximity to him; the fact that he is Jimmy Stewart (who I *LO*V*E*!); the fact that he is hot and sweaty and can’t do anything about it (e.g., sleep out on the fire escape); the fact that he is in a cast and therefore, immobile, etc… these all lead us to sympathize with him from the start. We can relate to at least one (or more) aspects of his current situation.

 

Immediately, we span from right to left and are treated to the full scope of Jeff’s current existence (and ours for the duration of the film). We are clued into the problems (heat and humidity; noise levels of the space the characters occupy (kitty meowing/radio playing/alarm clock going off/dog barking/kids shouting)), as well as the accessibility that other characters have, which Jeff does not have (fire escape, city street, doors, dog basket, walkway, etc.)

 

In fact, we get the full scope from right to left twice. The first sweep seems to be one of juxtaposition — showing us where things are, getting the lay of the land, noticing the peacefulness of the world where a little cat wanders around and a flock of pigeons find a meal on a rooftop. The second sweep introduces us to the people who inhabit this space; their personalities (which may be presumed rather than real); their activities, etc. Both sweeps end in Jeff’s apartment, with a close-up on his face and then a sweep of his apartment so we can now be introduced to him and his world of photography.

 

Because of the heat and sunshine, we also know what time of year it is… so we have a slight sense that life may be a little more relaxed than usual at this time of year in the city… as the season tends to inspire people to go out and seek adventures on vacation, etc. Kids are playing out in the street in swimsuits. (Question: Why are they out so early and on their own when most adults don’t seem to be up/ready for the day yet? But I digress…)

 

We also get a sense of the setting itself being a character, because we are able to see in detail all of the different shapes and sizes and styles and age of the architecture. And we get to know a few of the apartment dwellers: The composer, of course, has a grand window on an upper-level floor, presumably overlooking the city rooftops… which is perfect for one with an artistic soul. He turns off the radio ad for men over 40 because… he’s not ready to feel old yet? Miss Torso appears to be a single gal because she is in a tiny studio apartment and that may be all a showgirl (if that’s what she is) can afford. But she seems perky and is making it all work out. Etc.

 

 

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 first see Jeff close up, in his PJs, with a cast that says, “Here lie the broken bones of L.B. Jeffries,” and then the camera pans left to a broken camera, and then a racecar hurtling toward us is caught in a photograph. We can safely assume Jeff is a photographer (we don’t know if he’s an amateur or professional yet, though) who got a lucky shot of the racecar, which may have been the incident that caused the destruction of both his camera and his leg. He's a risk-taker. He lives life in a thrilling way. Being immobile goes against his grain entirely. We also can't miss that Jeff and the camera are in the same battered condition: Jeff = camera/photography.

 

We continue panning around the walls where we see that he actually is a published photographer who scored the cover shot of a popular magazine. So now we know he is a professional. What we don’t know (yet) is why any of that (his career/his physical condition) matters. His images show that his career assignments have taken him around the globe: war photos, daily life (woman (?) changing tire), bomb exploding, fashion photography. He has seen and done it all — maybe taking certain assignments just to make a buck or two, even if his heart isn’t in it.

 

He has a great eye for detail, is open to pursuing whatever various opportunities life brings him, and has the keen ability to see that something is happening and take advantage of it. We know that his (and currently our) POV (mind and eyes) can be trusted because he is a man of great experience in a great many things.

 

We also see a stash of alcohol nearby, which suggests he either likes to indulge, likes to entertain, or is just a man’s man.

 

 

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 don’t quite feel like a voyeur yet. What the camera angle/POV points out to me is how much all of those other people are willing to show off their private lives. No curtains? No one has anything to hide? No one cares about anyone else? No one values anyone else’s view/vision? No one has any sense of discretion? No one has any modesty? They all think they’re alone and unseen out there? Whatever the case, they shouldn’t be surprised if someone sees them. Right?

 

Perhaps when we are in our own little worlds in the confines of our homes (even our cars when we drive around), we tend to think that everything we do is private (regardless of whether or not we have curtains closed)… or that others aren’t interested in us anyway… so we naturally wouldn’t expect anyone look at us and see anything that would inspire them to actually watch us.

 

I do feel a bit immobile, though, because I am only seeing things from one POV… and I keep coming back to Jeff’s apartment, standing right beside him as he sleeps. It’s kind of like sitting in a stadium watching a ball game… or (of course) sitting in a theater watching a play... and leaning over to the guy next to you to say, "Did you see that?!" or "I don't get it. Can you explain what just happened?" Etc.

 

 

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 can see that. There is so much depth to this “immobile” movie, visually and motivationally… characters, scenery, the what-ifs, the chances people take or don’t take, the way they relate to each other... etc.

 

It’s also a film you can internalize as a viewer more than his other works. Hitchcock has put us in a chair sitting in a place where we cannot do anything no matter what we see in front of us. We have no control over what we’re seeing it or how we’re seeing it. But we also don’t want to miss anything. We are held captive in this small view of the world where we wonder, “did that just happen?” and “how could that happen” and “when did that happen?” just like the characters in the movie do. In that regard, Hitchcock makes each of US one of the characters in this movie.

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1.  The opening shot of Rear Window establishes a lot of eclectic lives are tied together, confined in a small space. Jeff turns his back to all this , but he cannot escape his situation. He is hot and uncomfortable, but he is not above the situation. I don't know whose vantage point we are seeing this shot from. Maybe there is someone else in the apartment? (Sorry, I am probably the only person on earth who hasn't seen this film yet.)

 

2. I am guessing Jeff is a news photographer who will go to any extreme to get the shot. The race car crash, the broken camera in the foreground. Presumably, He went too far and was injured on the job.

 

3. Hitchcock is successful of conveying feelings of claustrophobia and voyeurism in this opening shot. I did find it odd that the apartment tenants were not shy about having their lives so exposed. Everyone in my neighborhood values their privacy, we all have tall fences and trees to block peering eyes. People draw their curtains or blinds at night. If it is so easy for Jimmy Stewart to view his neighbors, it is logical to assume the neighbors can see everyone else as well. The fact that no one is making any effort to protect their privacy feels a little forced. Perhaps this is resolved by establishing that it is so hot everyone has to keep their windows open, but that seems a bit contrived to me.

 

4. I have not seen this film yet, but I will this week!

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1.     & 3. 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? 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?

 

a.     The POV in Rear Window is always that of a close co-conspirator with Jeff. Since we are also “watchers” like him, his napping gives us a chance to look around inside HIS room – and when he awakes, we join him in looking inside the rooms of others. Before we even know of Jeff’s voyeuristic tendencies, (his back is turned to the action,) we are already implicated as voyeurs. And in this first scene, our voyeurism is absolutely covert with no threat of discovery, and the illusion of invisibility and anonymity.
 

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?
 

a.     Jeff is an “action photographer” – and sometimes the “action” is of the hubba hubba kind (with supermodels) – but is now taken completely out of his routine by an injury that changes his perspective of watching the world – from up close and in the heat of things, to distant watching through a zoom lens of the camera.

 

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

b.     I agree with Hitchcock because, well, he’s Hitchcock.

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  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?

 

We learn that Jeff is an action photographer who is immobilized by a broken leg during a brutal heatwave. He is stuck in a wheelchair in the apartment, the sweat runs down his face. We see a montage of his photographic works hanging up on the wall and stacked on the table. His work is quite varied, ranging from sports/action shots to a magazine cover from Paris. He is used to traveling and being in constant motion.

 

To be immobilized is pure torture for Jeff. However he soon realizes there is a "story" right outside of his apartment window. Being a visual person, he comes to this conclusion early on in the movie. However, from the opening shots of the different apartments and the people who live in them, the audience knows the story potential before Jeff.

 

Again, Hitchcock is giving us information up front - information which the characters in the movie don't see right away. However Jeff is very quick to discover the possibilities and convinces Lisa and Stella (Thelma Ritter) that something interesting and sinister is going on.

 

Love this movie!

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Well, it's a fabulous opening shot, introducing us to the Courtyard, which is the main character in the film, starting from Jeff's point of view out the window. We see every one of the neighbors that will be part of the story, with lots of little details that suggest the scenarios to come. Many masterful moments, as we start to follow the cat and the camera continues that creeping exploratory movement around the space. But I also couldn't help but notice a few narrative inconsistencies -- which I now realize come with the territory and didn't bother Hitch a bit!

    We start with Jeff's POV, but Jeff is actually asleep, so it's not what he is seeing in the moment. Thus from the beginning we recognize that the camera (and we) see more than he does. Hitch wanted to show everybody in action, and seems to have chosen a moment when everybody is waking up, with the alarm clock ringing on the sleeping porch, Miss Torso getting dressed and putting on her coffee. But is it really 94 degrees that early in the morning? I doubt it. And he was good at showing us the world beyond with the view through the alley into the street at the back, but in that street there are a bunch of kids splashing in the fire hydrant -- first thing in the morning? I doubt it. So the scene is comprehensive, but really combines at least two distinct times of day, the courtyard waking up in the early morning and later in the afternoon when the temperature is at its high point and the kids are out. But by now in this study of Hitch, we've learned to overlook these narrative inconsistencies. The key function of this scene is to introduce us to Jeff's world (a process that continues as we scan his leg cast and wall photos), we might not even notice.  We're fully "in."

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Even though Jeff's back is to the window and he is asleep in his wheelchair, we get a glimpse from

being voyeurs looking around his apartment at the broken camera, the pictures on the wall of accidents,

and the glamour magazines, that he is indeed a photographer, and that he has had an accident.

We can surmise that his profession is a rather dangerous one.

 

When Jeff wakes up,he will be the voyeur and peek into the lives of the people across the

courtyard. As the audience, we are invited to see how the neighbors live, how they interact.

Knowing that nothing is private, and we are looking into people's innermost feelings. It gives

one pause, but even in the daylight shots, we can't look away.

 

I believe that this film is the most cinematic, that Hitchcock has ever made. It is full of characters with different personalities, and a vast array of differing circumstances. It's so intriguing to watch.

It's so hard to believe that this is a movie set. It looks so real, and I believe that is why Hitch's films hold up even today,because of his great attention to detail and his great insight into the

human psyche.

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It seems as though Hitch is trying to establish that everything in this picture WILL be seen through the rear window, almost like it is outside world storytelling from the inside. Hitch may also be aiming to convey to the audience that, while Jeff is the one who is going to be looking out the rear window, THEY are the ones who will see and notice everything thanks to the way Hitch crafts the camerawork with his cinematographer. Really, the opening gives the audience a vantage point that is established for the remainder of the film. 

 

As has been stated before, Hitch was often a silent filmmaker at heart. What impresses me most about the 50's era for him is how often he used no sound for lengthy periods in his films but instead relied on music and visuals. The visual design of Jeff's apartment tells us that, as he is housebound, it is due to an accident he sustained while photographing. We see through this visual display that he has had a highly successful career as a photographer and has demonstrated "derring do" in his choices.

 

No matter how many times I watch this opening, I feel as though I am spying on other peoples' lives, dropping into them uninvited but interested to stay. While the opening doesn't quite get to the "voyeur" level for me, it does elicit that idea that I am quietly looking into strangers lives.

 

This film to me is Hitch's finest and a true masterpiece in cinema. It is definitely his most cinematic overall. Despite constrictions into one room for roughly the whole shoot, he uses his scenic design very well by exposing the audience to the larger picture of the courtyard and the smaller picture of the individual apartments and the people who occupy them. His mood is captured beautifully by both the masterful cinematography and the playful music, which elicits excitement, curiosity, and tension. The way he uses his characters is great too and the actors give off some of the best facial expressions in Hitchcock movie-dom. A truly great piece!

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  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? It is the audiance point of view for the window -when the curtins come up the camera and hitchcock is saying "this is the world you will be watching - look close, somethings may not be as it seems.
  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 back story is he takes photos for a magazine and sometimes risks his life or legs by trying to take the best photo. As the camera or we walk around his apt.
  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 he does make us feel like a voyeur because we are peeking into other peoples lives behind their close doors (or open windows) we have all types of people there, the married couple, the couple who loves pets, the girl next door, the lonely girl, the music compose.  Just sit for an hour in front of you window and see what you see across your street the type of people who live next to you.
  4. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic?   I think its really cool he turned the entire backlot of paramount into this amazing set. Is it his most cinematic? I do not think so because a few years ago i watched all of his films and he did so many different kinds of films, you can not put him into a box

 

Fun Fact - at universal studios when they had the hitchcock art of making movies show, one of the parts of the show was a full set of the rear window set and we had to find the murderer. 

 

Also back in 2000 i think it was I was able to see this film on the big screen. it was awesome! 

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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 allows the audience to discover the apartment courtyard setting along with some of the inhabitants.  The initial panning shots that showcase the physical dimensions of the courtyard before returning to the sweating brow of James Stewart lasts 30 seconds or so.   The next close-up confirms the sweltering heat by showing a thermometer hitting 95 degrees.  Hitchcock gives us a glimpse of some of the inhabitants:  an unmarried musician, a husband and wife waking up from sleeping all night on their balcony to escape the heat and a beautiful half-naked dancer putting on her top.  Hitchcock then pans the camera back to a wide shot of a sleeping James Stewart.  Hitchcock shows Stewart’s cast indicating his broken leg along with a written inscription.  From that wide shot, Hitchcock’s camera pans to Stewart’s photographic equipment, including a smashed camera and photographs showing us Stewart’s profession.

 

This is the subjective vantage point of the audience (or perhaps the eye of God) in which Hitchcock supplies information about the main character and the initial situation.   

 

 

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?

 

Simply from the cinematography and production design, we see that Jeff lives a rather middle-class existence from these ordinary, drab surroundings.  We see that Jeff is a photographer, probably successful in his field but not a rich guy.  We see by his smashed camera and a photo of a car racing accident that he probably received his broken leg courtesy of a dangerous assignment.

 

 

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?

 

I don’t feel like a voyeur initially.  The camera operates almost from “God’s point-of-view” in a non-judgmental manner. 

 

 

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

 

Possibly.  Hitchcock’s use of Jeff’s camera telephoto lens to spy on the murder’s apartment lends to an enhanced subjectivity of his characters, particularly Jeff.  If we think of Jeff’s camera as a surrogate for Hitchcock’s camera, it is almost like a film within a film.

 

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  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 this is the prologue to the film. It establishes how we will be viewing all of these people over the course of the film. The view is from one spot across the terrace in what we learn is an apartment - Jimmy Stewart's apartment. His back is to thw window in the beginning,yes, because he has yet to become engaged in watching the world outside his apartment. His adventure has yet to really begin.

 

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?

Jeff has a seriously broken leg and probably immobile. He has no air conditioning and is sweating even though the windows are ide open (out of necessity). He likes action photography from a variety of locations - as we seen in the framed shots - then we see the busted up camera and more pics that elude to a bad race car wreck - is this what broke his leg?  we then view more of his equipment, the negative of a portrait and the resulting magazine cover (Paris fashions) - the character must be a professional photographer who travels the world. So...we have an action man temporarily incapacitated and chair bound. This situation must drive him crazy and bore that devil out of him. Here is a viewer of the world stuck with a very small microcosm of humanity for weeks. What's he going to do to keep his mind occupied for the duration of the 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?

For sure, but as Hitch observed we all watch others secretly from time to time. Out of boredom, curiosity or we're stuck in a situation and have to keep our mind occupied on something. The perspective from Jeff's view is similar to us looking out of our own window on our neighbors. I'm thinking more curiosity than voyeuristic but it is a fine line, I guess because Jeff does become obsessed with what he sees.

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

Maybe so because we're watching little short films of each of the characters on almost a daily basis and we have to keep within the confines of what would be viewed from a single point. Could be poring but we view it all through just Jeff's eyes or the lens of his camera. As mentioned, we ae seeing what the director would be seeing. Interesting stuff.

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Not many films are flawless; even with Hitchcock. But, this one 'Rear Window' is pretty close.

 

'Psycho' has the goofy scene at the end where the psychiatrist explains everything.

 

'The Man Who Knew Too Much' has the terrible acting by Doris Day.

 

'Notorious' is a little too talky.  

 

'Vertigo' is somewhat slow moving with some serious plot holes (even for Hitch >>>like, how does Jimmy S. not know that Judy is Madeleine? Come on! Neither one wore a bra. Okay, you can't tell it's Superman if he has glasses on, either.)

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1.     The opening shot of Hitchcock’s Rear Window is an exercise in his masterwork as a silent film maker. He is an illustrator by nature and a designer. Hitchcock knows how to give us a great deal of information in a quick amount of time.  The camera starts with a slow push out the window to a courtyard as the viewer takes in information about most of the neighbors. Early morning, we are seeing the intimate behavioral patterns of our neighbors. I say “our” because that is Hitchcock’s intent; to make us an instrument in some way. As stated in the lecture notes, Hitch is also intent on making Jefferies and the viewer his surrogate. I believe he combines the viewer and Jefferies as a surrogate by the way the camera circles over Jefferies, where he wasn’t with us at first and then back out to the neighborhood and then to introducing Jefferies. At this stage of the film there isn’t any subversive feeling in perhaps what is the most voyeuristic film of all. This aspect will be something we struggle with along with Jefferies after he wakes up. Being that Hitch loves the idea of mystery and crime played out in public places, this is a wonderful twist in the sense that it is public but also private at the same time.


2.     The set design and track of the the camera illustrates that Jefferies has a broken leg, we see his broken camera; perhaps a testament to his voiced frustration over being laid up. We see he is an action photographer as well. The interesting pan of visual character building shifts when we see the photonegative of a young lady that appears to be Grace Kelly’s character. He has framed this photonegative and it seems to be a comment on the relationship Jefferies might be involved with, as we see later Jefferies and Lisa are a couple that don’t have much in common. Justification for this is a stack of fashion magazines with the same woman’s face on it, and while it isn’t Grace Kelly’s, it nevertheless seems out of place in an action photographer’s apartment. So we can only be led to believe that the magazines belong to a woman in the house.


3.     I think I answered #3 in #1


4.     I agree that it is perhaps his most cinematic. Hitchcock loved to apply challenging constraints on himself in his films. While he explored this limited set before, and while this is a large set, the largeness of the set is only due to the story itself. It is large but also a limitation. A limitation that allows Hitchcock to truly explore what might be his best visual story telling film. Themes of public gathering places like trains, hotels, carnivals, and theaters have been explored as a means to reflect the complex ways in which our lives intermingle with others for better or worse, but Hitchcock has shown his true mastery through Rear Window


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The opening shot of REAR WINDOW establishes the setting and most of the players for the entire movie. As the camera pans around, we are curious to take it all in. We are tempted to look in the windows, and also through that narrow alley that leads out to the street. The sounds are so true and believable as we hear the cars and trucks, and even trains from a distance. We then are looking straight in Jeffries’ apartment while he is completely unaware. We are doing to him exactly what he will do for the rest of the film; spy on people. The look through his apartment tells us a great deal about him; the fact that he is injured, he lives alone, has many books and photographs, he has an expensive camera (along with the many photos, negatives, magazines, and the camera box, all tell us his line of work as a professional photographer). I feel more like a detective here than a voyeur as we are innocent in our gathering of clues. True to Hitchcock’s style, he “tells” us all of these things only through visual images; he is teaching us and training us how to look, as we will need to for this film. As an art teacher, one of the many things I try to train my students to do is exactly this; learn how to look. I so appreciate Hitchcock’s artistic background in this film and I think these artistic touches are best utilized in REAR WINDOW than any other Hitchcock film. For this reason, and for pulling off the successful and amazing feat in the set design, I must agree that this is Hitchcock’s most cinematic movie.

 

I also agree with Professor Edwards that REAR WINDOW is a forward-looking glimpse at intimate relationships which has stood the test of time. The complexities of all of these relationships are juxtaposed and balanced with the use of a single set, (and viewed mostly through a single camera lens). I can't help but feel this goes back not only to several former works of his, as mentioned in class, ROPE, DIAL M FOR MURDER, and LIFEBOAT, but it also goes back further to early days of filming in Hollywood in general (even possibly going back to theatrical roots). Movies like THE PETRIFIED FOREST, or GRAND HOTEL have basically a single setting with a myriad of sub characters and stories, sometimes colliding and moving along the plot.

 
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1.  Well, I still think it's Jeff's vantage point whether he's looking out or not.  I suppose it would also be the theater audience's vantage point.  Hitch is presenting us with the setting of our story(ies).

 

2.  The visual design lets us know that our main character lives in the city (window view).  It's summer (sweat & thermometer)  He's had some sort of accident (the cast). Probably hurt while being a photographer (broken camera and car wreck photo).  He's an adrenaline junkie (more explosion photos).  The only odd note was the fashion photo.  Did his broken leg reduce him to fashion photography?

 

3. I would say it made me feel more like a immobile spectator than a voyeur.  I've been watching movies and television all my life.  It didn't make me feel like a window peeper.  They were all standing in front of their windows (or even outside their windows) with no shades pulled.  It's not like in Psycho where the camera crawls under the shade.

 

4.  I'm not sure what Hitchcock means when he says this film is his most cinematic, so its hard to agree or disagree.  The notes mentioned that the set is "set up" as if we were a movie audience viewing out the window so that would be "like a movie".  The various mini movies were told visually with little or no dialogue.  I enjoyed the factoid that "the designers even matched the size of  the windows to different screen aspect ratios.”

 

This movie is another of my favorites.

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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 like we live there, the blinds open one by one.  These aren't heavy duty venetian blinds, these are light bamboo shades,  even when they are closed you can see out of them (and others can see in).  It is showing another day has started.  It does what we all do every morning, open the blinds.  We see people doing what we all do everyday, get ready for work.  An cat is walking across the courtyard, pigeons fly in and the milkman is making his deliveries. The windows are open and even though it is early morning, you can see by the thermometer, it is already hot.

You can hear what is going on in other apartments, music

 

 

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 see the broken camera, the photos of an explosion and a nuclear bomb blast and the one that injured him, the racecar hurling towards the camera.  A fashion shot as a framed negative and a stack of magazines with the fashion shot on the cover.  He's not shooting for National Geographic, it's a magazine like Life or Look.

 

 

 

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 does feel like we are the immobile spectator because we never leave the apartment.  We see that it is a small studio apartment with a tiny kitchen off to the side.

 

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

 

Yes it is.  Hitchcock put an entire city block into a small space and all the little details with it.  If you've ever lived in a city apartment, this is what it is like.  He captures it perfectly. Even down to the background noise. Pigeons on the roof, the streetcleaner and the kids playing in the street, horns honking.  The walls don't bar the noise of your neighbors and their everyday life.  You hear the arguments and listen to their music. 

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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 think I am addressing a large portion of question #3 in this response, so I'll try not to be redundant.)

 

I believe that with the opening tracking shot that takes the viewers out through the window (unlike the opening shots that take us in through the window in Shadow of a Doubt and Psycho) Hitchcock is still trying to establish the audience as voyeurs who are also complicit in anything that Jeff has seen through the window during the last six weeks because Hitchcock now takes us in through Jeff's neighbors' windows.  I know we should often take Hitchcock's comments with a grain of salt; however, I agree with him (and I'm assuming many others will also agree) when he says 9 out of 10 people would stop and watch if they see a woman undressing or even a gentleman puttering around (or in the case of Rear Window, a woman dropping her brassiere while getting dressed and ironing in her underwear).  Side notes (as addressed in today's discussion with Drs. Edwards and Gehring): Once again Hitchcock introduces the motif of sexual tension in this film, more overtly this time with so much emphasis on the dancer who is ironing and in the next scene (not included in the daily dose) of the two sunbathers on the roof, with Hitchcock allowing us to use our imaginations by showing us only the towels the women drape over the wall.  We do watch, and not only because we are forced to do so because that is the chosen camera shot.  How many viewers would look away from this shot even if given a choice?  As I have said (and as Hitchcock and Truffaut also say) man by nature tends to be voyeuristic, especially while watching a film, and Hitchcock establishes this immediately with The Pleasure Garden and continues it in every one of his films that I have watched.  He also introduces his recurring motif of strained marriages, especially with Jeff's comment about being tied down if he marries.

 

 

 

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 a renowned photographer who takes chances in order to get a good shot.  He is innovative, always trying to push the envelope (hmmmm...just like Hitchcock?).  We should assume that he was injured while taking the photo of the race car that lost its wheel during the race (which I believe is confirmed shortly after this scene?)  We also see his broken camera just before the camera pans up to his action shots, but we also see a negative of a woman beside stacks of magazines featuring the same woman?  Is he also a fashion photographer or is he versed in many types of photography (an assignment in Kashmir?)

 

 

 

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?

 

 

Aside from what I have already noted in question #1, I will add that any time we watch a movie, we are volunteering to be immobile observers, unlike Jeff in Rear Window who has been forced to remain immobile because of his cast, which keeps him away from the active lifestyle he prefers.  He wants to be at the heart of the action, standing on a racetrack to get the unique shot, going to Kashmir to take photos from a jeep or water buffalo if necessary.  And I believe I have already addressed the second part of the question previously.

 

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 yet, but I am looking forward to it.

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As he takes us thru the window around the set you are viewing the apartments as you would if you were in his room, making the viewer complicit in pepping, right from the start.

 

The photographer was injured by taking risks, as the action photos indicate. Here lies the bones, of a broken man as well. If he's not working, the world is over for him. All said on set and design.

 

Hitch makes you feel very interested in each shot, as the temp rises, so does our curiosity. We see action in every frame/ apartment, save scotty. The cat runs, the dog barks, the pigeons fly. What's next, is his talent, we need to know.

 

The set design in this film is probably his best. Although as you watch it, it comes off as a very realistic scene. However, it has a dream like quality that only black and white films seem to achieve. His control over the set, colors, dress, apartments, and probably tempature makes you realize what a detailed eye he has. The microcosm of lives lived thru

A movie frame is priceless.

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Daily Dose #14

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

I think that the first shot which is a traveling in that starts from Jeff's window sets the logic of the film in a subtle way, because our anchor is going to be that spot and the whole movie is about looking outside. From that point, the next shot which shows us the building complex as a whole with their different apartments and inhabitants feels descriptive not only of the place but the characters and tone as well. Each one of the other windows frames a different situation that tells something about the married couple sleeping outside (the seem kind of special because of that act), the music composer (who doesn't want to hear again about the negative aspects of his age) and Ms. Torso (who seem freed of body inhibitions and focused on her dance skills). The same happens with Jeff and the look of his apartment. At the same time, the peculiarity of their personalities, the music and lighting creates an atmosphere of a sort of black comedy, a hue that will remain for the rest of the film.

 

In my opinion, those moments when we are not watching the world from Jeff's point of view, creates the impression that we are there too, we are as spectators as he is. We are looking outside, but we can look at him and his apartment. In that way, Hitch also uses this situations to give us extra information that Jeff doesn't have like when he is sleeping and we can see supposely The Thorwalds leave their apartment.   

 

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 the first place, when we see the broken camera it is possible to connect that with the accident that caused Jeff to have a casted leg and that he is a photographer. Then, the photo of a car race and a war setting confirm that and suggest that he is attracted to exciting and dangerous things or situationsbut the pressence of the woman negative picture and the magazine with the same image shows that he probably accepts other type of comissions as photographer. Thanks as well to the way things are ordered (there are more than just one camera and a lot of copies of magazines that may include some of his work), we can conclude that he gives a lot of importance to his profession.  

 

I particularly like how this whole shot inside the appartment feels like we are like watching his life without he notices it.

 

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, definitely the entire movie made me feel aware of my condition as spectator not just of the movie but of the other's lifes in general. I believe that was Hitchcock's purpose. To convey us with a curiosity that is actually part of all of us and the boredom that sometimes we experience with our own lifes which sometimes leads us to watch outside overlooking the problems or situations that ocurr inside of our houses as happened to Jeff and his relationship with Lisa. Finally, I would say that this movie is a proof of or neverending interest in stories that could belong to others.

 

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

Based on all the Hitchcock's films I watched, I agree, because in Rear Window Hitchcock deploys his mastership of the cinematic language. He continues emphasizing on the use of images instead of long dialogues, he gave us an amazing insight in the lifes of Jeff's neighbors without just by showing key moments of their daily routines or activities. Moreover, he builds the entire movie so well that the third act is incredible even though we haven't left the complex of apartments. I would like to add too that the POV shots, the camera movements and the amazing remark made to the lighting in the final confrontation between Jeff and Mr. Thorwald is outstanding. 

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I think, in this opening scene Hitch is trying to convey that there are many different types of people live in this small confined  space and there's not much to do.

 

I learned that Jeff is a clutz, He broke his leg while on the Job and his buddies signed his cast. Hitch gives us his stoy through the cast  and I think there was a pic of his destroyed camera.

 

Well, seriously I had the the feeling of an mobile spectater because I would be in the same predicament as Jeff onlyy his cast would come off.

 

Its bee, a while since I've seen "Rear Window" but I would have to agree that "rear Window"is his best cinematic success,

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July 18, 2017 – Hitchcock lecture Part 14

1.  The opening camera shot is the director’s omniscient perspective. It is not Jimmy Stewart’s POV, which we will indulge in a lot a little later throughout the film. The reason for this is to introduce to the audience the objective truth of the people’s lives in this contained world. We become familiarized of the general setup, so that we don’t have to waste time thinking about it when the real drama plays out. Also, this opening shot allows us to be the casual voyeurs, before we become one by proxy of our protagonist.

 

2. We immediately learn that he has a broken leg, and this is connected with a broken camera, quickly followed by a picture of a racing car that is being destroyed in a nasty crash. We connect his broken leg to that incident. But to dispel any doubt that he himself may be a race car driver or a casual bystander, we see a series of photographs, including a framed negative, that is the cover of a magazine. From this, we know that he is a professional photographer.

 

 

3. The opening does make me feel like a voyeur, somehow, when I’m able to peer into a private space, I already feel like I’m violating someone’s privacy. I’m also watching unflattering things, like a radio that by coincidence proclaims the dissatisfying life of a middle aged man, and also a woman who nearly reveals her breasts, before she turns around and starts stretching her legs as if no one is watching her.

 

 

Bonus: Initially, I thought of the film, Notorious. I’ve never seen a sequence like the wine bottle scene, where each removal of champagne from the cooler indicates the passage of time, or rather, the running out of it. The image itself, is then replaced with the “pop” sound. The audience understands the implications of the scene just from the sound. Then through effective closeups, we see that a “unica” key leads to a certain wine cellar, and the close up of numbers on the bottles indicates clearly which one is our Macguffin. In the climax , when Grant and Bergman’s characters are about to be discovered, they kiss—it’s better to be caught cheating than to be seen as spies. We can only imagine that Grant’s character secretly savors this interaction. When Rain’s character arrives, we subsequently see the heart-rending double entendre of Grant’s dialogue, “I loved her before you did”. But Rains is not stupid, and we see, through his POV, that the “unica” key is missing. Such a sequence can never be understood better theatrically, as in a play, or in any other medium like a Virtual Reality film or a documentary. The scene features techniques that are only unique to 2D-cinema: Parallel cutting, multiple lensing within a single scene, the ability to view shots from perspectives, closeups, juxtaposition of images that make up a new meaning, subjective sound, and non diegetic sound that is cut to seem like it's originating from an organic source. A director’s custom framing of the camera and camera movements are absolutely necessary to achieve what Hitchcock did in Notorious.

 

Rear Window, on the other hand, can be reproduced theatrically. For starters, the entire setup is a stage because the “set” that Jimmy Stewart views through his lens is vast--so vast, we can’t even cross the proscenium line, thus we experience the same limitations theater has that the cinema camera doesn't, with its ability to shift the 180 degree line to almost anywhere, and frame shots in various sizes. Of course, this changes in the climactic battle between hero and antagonist, but what Rear Window is most known for is its voyeurism from Stewart’s wheel chair--thus the movie willfully remains planted (with a couple of exceptions). This is not to say that Rear Window is less of a film, because Hitchcock's entire concept is that we are "planted and constrained" like the wheelchair bound Stewart.

Also, while the opening shot where we learn about Jimmy Stewart’s character through the items in his room is a “cinematic” way to establish character, the same amount of information can be understood organically through a well designed theatrical set. 

In summary, I feel that a film like Notorious utilized the cinematic medium to its maximum capacity, whereas Rear Window did not. 

 

Honestly though, if the master himself says so, I will have to agree to some extent. 

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1) The vantage point is clearly that of the apartment and what can be viewed in the apartment complex courtyard.Hitch is establishing an urban setting where there is a community of people who do not really know each other, but are simply occupants of the complex. This is clearly an "establishing" shot that brings some of the characters into focus.

 

2) Jeff is an action photographer who is quite proud of some of his accomplishments. We are shown a broken camera, probably the result of the accident that broke his leg. Jeff is an adventurer who is tired of being out of the action

 

3) As I watched this scene, I felt that I was an observer of the human condition, with several different personalities being conveyed in the film. I found that I wondered about the other people, who were they, what makes them tick, what do they do for fun, etc.

 

4) in my fair opinion (and that is all it is) I really liked Rear Window but as pure cinema, nothing can surpass North by Northwest.

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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 see two vantage points in this shot. The camera pans the courtyard and apartments but then moves into Jeff's apartment. So we see his view but we also get a taste of the view of his neighbors into his apartment as we track into the apartment. This reminds us that sometimes the voyeur can be 'voyeured'. This will become important later in the movie. It is interesting that when we see Jeff, his back is to the window and he is asleep so it couldn't be his eyes that were sweeping the courtyard and apartments. It had to be our eyes via the camera work.

 

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?

​I think everyone else has already covered this pretty thorough except that the fact that he is sleeping may also indicate that, despite all the activity viewable from his apartment, he ultimately finds it boring enough to sleep through. Compared to the kinds of things he photographed for a living, the view from his apartment hardly seems to be all that interesting. Of course, that will change.

 

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 as a spectator am clearly a voyeur too but maybe unintentionally so since I am at the mercy of the camera. I am certainly curious immediately as to why I am being dropped into this scene of snooping on others' lives.

 

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

​Yes and no. Yes because it uses all the capabilities of the large soundstage and the ability of the motion picture camera to move around, focus in and out, and capture motion and different points of view. No, because like some of Hitchcock's other films (Rope, Dial M for Murder, Lifeboat), it doesn't open out into a wider world which is what film could do that the stage never could. We are essentially dealing with a single set as we might see in a stage play. The set for Rear Window ​could possibly be mostly transferred to the stage but with great difficulty and not as elaborately, of course. 

 

A piece of trivia about the film: The composer character is played by a real composer of popular songs: Ross Bagdasarian, who had already written a major hit song (Come on-a My House) by the time of this movie and would become really famous as the creator of The Chipmunks.

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This opening camera shot sets it all up, of course. The sights, the sounds, the smells (if there were smell-o-vision!) like coffee, shaving cream, sweat, birdcage, car fumes. Jeff can hear and smell these activities, even if his back is to the window, as he has been laid up for awhile with that broken leg. We see Jeff as we have seen the other characters, but we see him up close. We're spying on him, too.

 

We learn that there is no air conditioning, and Jeff might be sweating more than the other apartment-dwellers who are able to move around. He is pretty vulnerable here. We see examples of his work: photographs, magazine cover shots, even a slightly scary negative of a woman. We see that maybe he has been in dangerous situations with his work. There is a smashed camera. He has had a more interesting life than most, maybe. 

 

I think we at first identify with all the people going about their morning routines in their apartments.  Then, after the camera shows us Jeff and the interior of his place, we might think that he misses his life of thrills and danger, and is craving all that from his position of immobility. I do sort of feel like a voyeur in this film opening. But I want more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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