Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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After live tweeting to/with Rear Window on TCM--mainly about the idea of the movie as a dream--the image of the framed photograph negative and the stack of magazines that end the opening scene kept coming to mind. I also tweeted about the concept of all of the different neighbors reflecting some aspect of Jeff and Lisa's relationship; usually in a negative way. Ultimately, with Jeff mirroring Thorwald and Lisa, Mrs. Thorwald. Remember, this is in the context of a dream, and also that in mirrors, the image you see is always reversed.

 

This is one of the Hitchcock films that I've seen the most--probably 50 times, with 5 or 6 of those times being in an old Paramount movie palace--but this is the first time I thought of the framed negative and the stack of magazines as anything more than showing another aspect of Jeff's photography. But look at that negative image and the way it is introduced:

 

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After seeing the smashed camera, and several photographs capturing danger and violence, we see a whole camera and then a close-up of the negative. In a way, that camera, with its flashbulb intact, represents danger, since flashbulbs will later be used as a defensive weapon by Jeff.

 

Of course, the model in the image, represents Lisa--both in general appearance, style and elegance. Yet her character is first intimated as a "negative".

 

Then the camera glides over it to rest on the stack of magazines; revealing the photograph that was created by the negative, on the cover of a magazine.

 

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For some reason, I always thought this was a stack of the same issue of the magazine: all having the model on the cover. As if it was the most recent issue or a recent shot or something he was particularly proud of. The fact that the negative was framed and the magazine is on top suggest these thoughts. Also, did Lisa get him the assignment? Did Lisa have the photo negative framed?

 

I never noticed the other stack of magazines right beside the first, obviously all of the same magazine--the one Jeff works for. It seems to be something like Life magazine. The title is either obscured or not there at all. What I always thought was the leaf of a houseplant covered the top of the magazine. However, in the still shot you can see it's actual strips of negatives that lie across the top of the cover--again marring the image with a subtle negative connotation. The strips even gently move up and down at the end (so there's either a fan in the room or a slight breeze--thank goodness).

 

In any event, the character of Lisa (who wasn't in the original story) is foreshadowed first by this negative image, this opposite image. It appears to symbolize the threat she will represent to his work and the danger she might create in his Life (i.e. marriage). Again, appearing as subconscious dream thoughts, ideas, images.

 

This is all tied together brilliantly, in the scenes where Lisa proves her sense of adventure--particularly by entering Thorwald's apartment and finding Mrs. Thorwald's wedding ring; thereby proving herself capable of Jeff's lifestyle. When Lisa draws Jeff's attention to the wedding ring on her left hand (seeming to beckon to him),

 

 

and Thorwald notices it too--then looks up to Jeff...In that moment of horror and discovery, Jeff and Thorwald are most closely associated or mirrored or similar. Jeff seeing Lisa in a wedding ring--Mrs. Thorwald's wedding ring--almost puts him in Thorwald's shoes. Jeff's greatest fear, marriage, seems almost inevitable. Jeff, in this dream, now recognizes he will become as Thorwald. (The wedding ring, don't forget, in this case, is also evidence of a murder, a death.) And all of Jeff's complaints, negative descriptions, and disparaging remarks on marriage will now apply to him, as well. Jeff and Lisa's fate will now be the same as Mr. and Mrs. Thorwald: "Until death do us part."

 

 

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To me, Rear Window contains an extended metaphor of the business of making movies.  Jeffries' neighborhood, like a movie studio, is a whirl of activity, with artist and composer and dancer all busy at their work, Seen from a distance, this little ant-farm will conclude its work by the final curtain.  Wendell Corey and Jeff discuss the story and decide which is the most believable conclusion just as the scriptwriters polish a script.  Costumes, such as Lisa wears, are very expensive, but also very beautiful.  There are stills to examine, shots to plan, lighting to design... unforeseen events like a sudden shower can interrupt location shooting... actors must be managed.. aging ones with alcohol and pill problems...  and then there is Selznick/Thorwald watching from his darkened window.  The script is cluttered with movie jargon, "opening night' "curtain"  and of course the photographer/director who is entirely hampered by his CAST,

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1. I feel that Hitchcock wanted to tell us that this is the primary thing we're going to be focused on throughout the entire picture, because we're practically seeing the entire complex as what our crippled main character, who is played by the legendary James Stewart, is seeing it.

2. We see that Jeff has had quite a history, as he is left in a wheelchair with a cast on his leg, therefore, he's unable to do anything physically.

3. An immobile spectator. As I said in the first question, we're basically seeing what he will be seeing throughout the picture. As we see each apartment, everyone is rather unique, but they're all just living their ordinary lives without a care in the world.

4. Oh yeah. This is definitely one of his most cinematic pictures, and one of the greatest suspense thriller stories ever put on screen.

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1. 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? 


 


Their is an omniscient flair to the opening--the viewer is being oriented to the locale and the probably participants. Our only understanding as to what the "problems" are--the heat, no A/C, man confined to wheelchair.


 


2. What do we learn about Jeff (re: his backstory) simply through visual design? 


 


The camera shows us many photos of car crashes, explosions, and generic danger--broken camera), so we can deduce he is a photographer who most likely got hurt taking a dangerous photo. The negative, then the cover photo of the pretty woman suggests a different sort of danger (relationship).


 


3. Does this opening scene make you feel like a spectator? 


 


The POV tracking shot is for the audience.  Hitch tempts us with interesting secondary characters in several apartments.  The sound motif includes (no train whistle) the radio ad, the alarm clock, children in the street.  Visually--we see pets (and birds). I never tire of how many occupations are presented int he secondary characters (milkman, etc.)


 


 


4. Bonus question: Is this Hitchcock's most cinematic film? 


 


As was mentioned int he lecture notes, the nod toward silent films in the apartment vignettes contributes to the spectacular set design. The design leads to exceptional cinematography.


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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?

The opening is our invitation to peek in that neighborhood. We could think it’s Jeff’s POV, or his nurse’s (played by Thelma Ritter), but since she is not there and he has his back to the window, it’s our POV – the first time we see something the characters are not aware of during the film.

 

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?

Through images, we can reach the conclusion that Jeff was photographing the race and, when the cars collided, right after he took that amazing photo that is shown, he was hit by one of the vehicles. Maybe it wasn’t that at all, since there are several photos hanging. He is, nevertheless, proud of the photos he has taken, and didn’t even get rid of the broken camera – they may be like “war wounds” for him. And whoever wrote in his cast – maybe if was himself – has a dark sense of humor.

 

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 felt like a voyeur, and I also understood a few things – especially concerning the high temperatures, that are making the couple sleep outside, and Jeff’s backstory. I don’t feel really immobile, because we see down in the patio – something we could only do if we reached the window very closely and hung from there, and we can see inside the apartment as well. We have mobility, Jeff has far less than us.

 

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

If I had to choose the Hitchcock films with the best domain of cinematic technique, I’d put both Rear Window and Vertigo at the top of the list.

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1. This scene is both sweeping (in its panarama of the apartments and all of the action taking place) and claustrophobic (in that both James Stewart and everyone else are trapped in mundane lives crammed into small, hot apartments). I think the vantage point is for the audience getting the scene set up for them.

2. You learn that Jeff is a photographer from the shore of his equipment and photographs. The one of the race car with the tire flying off is how he probably broke his leg. I guess the tire did it!

3. You certainly feel like a casual observer at best. When confined to a small space, you always want to look around for some type of escape, especially if you're in Jeff's situation. Everyone else is confined and trapped by circumstances crammed into those sardine can apartments.

4. I think that North By Nothwest is more cinematic but this one is expansive in its use of small spaces.

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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?

 

Hitchcock is establishing the view from the bedroom which is the vantage point being expressed in the opening scene. You get to see the people Jeff will come to know from that window even though currently his isn't looking at them. You also get to realize they don't seem to care that others are watching them as they go about their day.  No one pulls a blind or glances at another apartment but you can tell easily that everyone is close enough to see everyone else. 

 

 

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 given in the picture frames and with the cameras. The cast is seen before a busted camera. Pictures of dangerous moments are seen along with working cameras. It implies Jeff hurt his leg getting one of the pictures and that he takes pictures for a living. The female on the cover is on Jeff's desk but as the negative so this might mean he is close to her but not as close as he might like to be. I will have to watch the film to see if there is a relationship between them as I took from this there currently isn't but might have been one or Jeff has hoped for one with her. 

 

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'm use to watching films so watching someone's else act out their lives doesn't make me think of myself as a voyeur.  It did make me curious about the people in the rooms though as we only had a limited amount of time with each one. I think at the time it was made, it would have given people an unease and curiosity at the same time. Today though with reality shows a dime a dozen, most people have lost their unease when watching others going about their lives though a window. 

 

 

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

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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 Hitchcock is immediately bringing the audience into the action. We move through the open windows. We survey the courtyard the way we might if we were just waking up, stretching and looking outside. In addition to wanting to show off his elaborate set, Hitchcock wastes no time in establishing the players. We're going to be allowed to observe these lives, including Jeff's.

 

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?

 

From Jeff's framed photos and camera equipment, we can tell that he is a talented, working photographer. Most of his shots are so action-packed that it's safe to assume he is willing to put himself in harm's way to get the shot he wants. His broken leg backs up that assumption. The last photo of the fashion magazine cover lets us know that he dabbles in whatever will pay the bills and it makes Lisa's role in his life a little more understandable. We can assume that's how they met.

 

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 make me feel like a voyeur. We are viewing these people in very personal moments. The man shaving, changing the radio station when the ad comes on asking if he's over 40. That made me chuckle. The scene with Miss Torso putting on her bra made me feel as though I shouldn't be looking, perhaps that I was doing something wrong. But Hitchcock created such a vibrant scene that you can't help but be interested in these people. It's irresistible.

 

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

 

I agree. The set is so elaborate that even though it's a confined space, each apartment is like a perfectly realized little world. Hitchcock delves into each one along with us, It's beautiful to look at. I love the use of color. And it must have been a challenge to be in charge of that production ... to keep all the moving parts operating correctly.

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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 shot is voyeuristic in nature in that the audience is seeing what is happening. The opening camera shot dispenses with formalities and gets right down to business. this helps create a sense elf anxiety for the audience.

 

 

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 a lot about him based by what he has in his apartment and ow he keeps his apartment. We also know that is a photographer and thus is accustomed to watching people.

 

 

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 feel like I am watching things unfold as a sort of observer. From the start he is out to make feel people uncomfortable and disturbed.

 

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 sprawling and done on a big canvas. It has big stars, big color and big suspense.

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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 in his opening shot shows us the cage that Jeff is living in as well as the other apartments full of other "zoo animals," each doing their own routine.  He finally comes back to Jeff's cast keeping Jeff from his usual routine. Added to that is the heat which has Jeff sweating even when lying still. It is our POV here, as we get ready to know more about the zoo and how they interact or don't interact.

 

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 an active man, a photographer who doesn't shy from danger, given his trophy wall of photos depicting race car crashes, explosions and fires. His "salute" to a cover girl - a negative, shows Jeff as a sardonic and sarcastic person, and, given his inscription on his cast, and the fact that he takes no notice of the neighbors waking up and making noise and going about their business, a closed-off person as well.

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?

Certainly the opening scene made me feel like a voyeur, but with permission from the director to pay attention to what's going on in people's apartments. I mean, after all, they haven't closed their curtains or pulled the shades, so that gives us tacit permission to spy, right?

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

I was fortunate enough to see the entire film in a movie theatre when Fathom Events and TCM showed it last year. There were a great many details I'd missed even though I'd seen it on TV many times. I agree that this is Hitch's most cinematic film; it provides the whole story visually - Lisa and Jeff's relationship included. The story contained within the apartments needs no dialogue or even sound, since we can see the music being played, the reaction to it by Miss Lonelyhearts, the dancing and the partying. Jeff, with his telephoto lens, takes us closer to the apartments that have something to hide, and we share his suspicions as a result.

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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? The vantage point is that of the audience, revealing our own voyueristic inclinations and piqueing our curiosity. We want to see more.
  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 in other Hitchcock films, he describes the characters by the rooms they inhabit.  The smashed camera along with all the framed photos on the wall show us that Jefferies is a photographer and the dangerous shots indicates that he strives for THAT photo of THAT INSTANT of climactic chaos.  He lives on The Edge.
  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!  We get a sense of uneasiness, of spying on others, but also, we don't want to look away.
  4. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? Before this course, I would have chosen North By Northwest as more cinematic. Now, I have to agree with The Master.

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1. The opening scene of Rear Window moves the audience towards the outside world, but stopping us just short (to remain in the what will become Jeffries' POV) to remind us of Jeff's restraints, but also ours within the film. The camera then tilts and pans over the courtyard to establish the setting and characters. Again, the vantage point is ours as we discover this new environment that is about to become as interesting to Jeffries as it is to us in this opening scene. 

 

2. We learn that he is a photographer and that he has been hurt and laid up (by the obvious presence of his leg cast). We see a smashed camera and numerous action shots showing the danger L.B. seems to have faced in his profession. This leads us to believe he may have been hurt on the job (full disclosure: I've already seen the movie many times, but am anxious to view it again). We also see a fashion magazine with Grace Kelly's character on the front, hinting at how they two characters might have met. 

 

3. I don't feel like any more a voyeur than I am in any other film where I am the spectator. I just think I am made more aware of my role as voyeur in this film. I guess it is more pronounced that we are the audience especially in the first pan of the courtyard, because we see it before Jeffries in this instance.

 

4. Yes, I believe Hitch has incorporated most, if not all, of his "touches" in this film marking it as his "most cinematic." For example (I am listing here for brevity), background of secondary characters, background of lead protagonists through mise en scene, completely constructed set on single location (i.e. Lifeboat), the particular scene between Thorwald and Jeffries and its use of flash bulbs, themes of marriage and relationships, staircases (or, at least, fire escapes), Hitch's use of stars and their personas, etc.

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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 gives the viewer a look into the neighborhood and the characters within it. We get a voyeuristic view into through the windows of the other people that live nearby. We also get to see some history of Jeff as a photographer. Leaving us to ponder if he will use his camera to watch his neighbors like we just did.

 

 

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 know he is a photographer and has shot some very high profile people, sports and current affairs. Right after we see Jeff's cast we see there is a broken camera on the table. Did the camera and his leg break at the same time? If so what was he photographing?

 

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 felt like a voyeur looking into the lives of these strangers. Specially when the camera focused on the woman getting dressed and stretching her legs. There was a feeling of being naughty, even the man shaving through the window, some things are private and not for others to watch unknowingly.

 

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 film yet.

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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?

 

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?

 

Just before the clip we watched starts, we have the opening credits as the three window shades are slowly drawn up.  This is a raising of the curtain on the show.  So at this point, WE, the viewers, are doing the looking – we not only look out on the courtyard and windows, but we also observe Jeff himself and we see his back story.  Once all of this is established, Jeff joins us as observers, and of course, he takes the lead in that.  There are only a few times (when Thorwald leaves the apt with his girlfriend while Jeff is asleep; when Thorwald leaves the apt after Lisa is arrested while Jeff is on the phone with Doyle) that we see something that Jeff doesn’t.

 

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?

 

One thing that struck me.  These three mundane window scenarios (the composer, the sleeping couple, and Miss Torso) all feature a little humorous surprise.  The composer reacts to the radio ad about being over 40.  And when he abruptly changes the dial, we realize that all the music we’ve heard thus far was also coming from the radio.  This sets up that all of the music we will hear in the film is diegetic.  The sleeping couple are funny in that we don’t expect them to be sleeping at opposite ends of the balcony.  Finally, Miss Torso.  We are titillated by the straight-leg bend over that she does when she drops her bra.  It’s sexy but seems awkward.  But then we understand why that was when she, out of the blue, raises her leg up to the countertop to stretch as she prepares breakfast.  All three of these little touches add humor to the scenes and add so much about the characters.

 

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

 

Yep.  There are all the little movie screens out there that he is watching.  And he definitely highlights the director/camera in Jeff.  It’s funny though that he portrays Jeff (Hitchcock’s stand-in) as impotent.  Locked in that cast which comes up to his waist, he is, at least temporarily, impotent.  Remember his answer to Lisa about his love life: “not too active.”  And, of course, he can only sit and watch, and uselessly phone the police, when Thorwald is knocking Lisa around.  A real sense of helplessness there.  And then finally at the end, he can only sit and wait for Thorwald to come and attack him.  He fights back in the only way he can, with camera equipment.  But ultimately, that won’t save him.  He simply needs to stall Thorwald long enough for the police to arrive.  I find it interesting, too, that Hitchcock has Jeff use a GIANT zoom lens to spy.  Talk about a phallic symbol….  And he even rolls around in his wheelchair with it lying in his lap, emerging from his crotch!  It’s his camera, not his “manhood” that is his power.

 

I remember reading something once about Hitchcock’s own sexual frustration.  That he felt he had a great amount of sexual passion to share, but he was burdened by his appearance.  He had all that libido in a body that few would find sexy.  But he gained access to many beautiful women through his camera…..

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1. With the three window shades being drawn up, it reminds me of how movies would start in the old days with the curtains being pulled open. I think this is Hitch's way of inviting us into the "world" of REAR WINDOW. I think the audience has the vantage point here. I think Hitch is trying to make us feel what it's like to spy on someone. I think it's here where he's laying the groundwork for the movie where he's going to make us feel what it's like to be a voyeur.

 

2. We learn that Jeff is a daring action photographer. We also learn that his apartment is more of a storage place than a home as there is so much stuff strewn about.

 

3. I've seen this movie so many times and I never thought about this! I suppose I feel rather voyeuristic watching the opening scene (but I think that can probably be said about every movie we watch). Looking into the other people's apartments, I feel curious and that I want to know more about them. I think however, that's what Hitch wants---he gives us just enough info about them to whet our appetites and leaves us wanting to know MORE!  

 

4.This is definitely his most cinematic film! Besides the main story, he also has the stories of the neighbors going on as well and he gives them just as much detail as the main characters.

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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?

Exploration.  That we are constrained to this one area, we haven't ventured outside of Jeff's room.  We are the audience.  In other movies, Hitchcock sometimes will establish that we are looking through the character's eyes, like in The Pleasure Garden or The Ring.  In this manner, we are willing participants in Jeff's voyeurism later.  Right now, it is innocent.  By inviting to be voyuers with Jeff, we are more willing to excuse his behavior later.

 

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 know he has a broken leg.  We know that he is a action/sports photographer.  Can we conclude he broke his leg while doing his job.  We also know he has a personal relationship with Lisa, because he has access to the negative of her picture that is on the magazine.  He took the picture.  And uses the negative as a personal photograph.

 

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, the perspective is constrained to the apartment, so we are watching the other characters with Jeff, not just through his eyes, we are just as "guilty" as Jeff.

 

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

I guess saying Rear Window is his most cinematic would require seeing all of Hitch's movies.  But how is it cinematic?  The question makes me think of Hamlet Advice to Players.  But also Reservior Dogs.  The scene where Tim Roth's partner explains how to tell a story.  How you have to know all the details.  Tarantino is telling how to write.  In Rear Window is Hitchcock telling how to watch a movie?  We are the voyeurs.  He purposefully puts as in that position.   What is the audience watching a movie but voyeurs.  And Hitch controls all details on a set.  Take the cat that walks across the patio.  That was on purpose.  So we are examining these layers as willing participants.  Also by switching Jeff's (and our) focus from acceptable voyeurism (his job as photographer) to not exactly innocent to obsession, where does voyeurism cross the line?  After all Jeff's obsession that many would say cross the line, ends up catching a murderer.

 

Edit:  Yesterday I answered this but now need to add something.  The reason for the negative not only establishes Jeff's relationship with Lisa, but is also about the the inversion and the prelude and frailty.  Just the as the negative is a inversion of the print, their relationship is inverted, Jeff cooped up and Lisa coming to him.  The subject matter of his usual work is inverted.  Usually the subject is in motion.  In this case it is a static portrait.  Is Jeff afraid (yes as we will learn) of a static relationship.  Also Jeff is inverted.  He had exercised his voyeurism through his work.  Now he looks at his neighbors, sometimes in an intrusive way.  Also a negative is prelude.  This is a prelude to this story.  We haven't seen the final picture yet, but we already have some of the elements.  Finally, frailty.  A negative before exposed to the right chemicals is fragile to light.  As he fixed the negative it is no longer fragile.  But later light will be a danger to Thorwald.

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Voyeuristic- the POV is for the audience, seeing what Jefferies would see on a day to day basis. We are getting a glimpse at what is to come characterwise and atmosphere- a busy apartment complex in a big city.

 

We learn that Jefferies is a photographer- the broken camera and prints around the apartment are clues for that- we also see some frustration at his present situation- a smashed camera could be a by-product of an accident that landed him in a wheelchair or it could be an expression of frustration because he cannot go out and photograph dangerous events (as shown in the photos around the apartment- car crash, explosions)- we also see that he has done some fashion work by the stack of magazines on the table but it seems that that does not interest him as much as the framed photographs of sports. The signing of his cast "here lies the broken bones of LB Jefferies" could also give way to the fact that he thinks his present situation is akin to a death sentence.

 

Yes- this opening does make one feel like a spectator- we are peeking into the world of other minor characters and of Jefferies.

 

I do agree that this film is very cinematic- I mean, it's a film that people watch about people watching people!

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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?

 

He's seeking to establish the environment where the story will take place, the characters of the story, our point of view for the story, and helps us to feel what it is like to be living there.  He also lets us know what time of year it is, thru the temperature and open windows.

The viewers vantage point.  We are as much a voyeur in this as Jeff is.

 

 

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 he is a photographer, an action photographer.

He lives in an apartment complex in a city.

He's recently broken his leg.

We learn his broken leg was the result of a work related accident, by the broken camera.

He's also done some fashion photography, or has someone in his life who's interested in fashion.

 

 

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 makes me feel more like an immobile spectator.  Your eye naturally gravitates towards movement.  No one sits at home and stares at the walls when they have a huge window to look out of.  It's human nature to watch what's going on around you. 

 

 

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 many times, but I have not seen all of Hitchcock's films yet.  I do agree with it being quite cinematic tho.  

 

 

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The opening shot of this film is a voyeuristic POV shot, Jeff's point of view out of his window and inside his apartment. It is what Jeff's sees if he was awake.

 

It is interesting that the camera takes us out Jeff's window and pans around the courtyard first at a distance from the windows. Then it comes inside for a close up of Jeff's apartment and background information on Jeff who is hot as we know by his sweat and the thermometer over 90. The camera takes us around the room to show us that he has a broken leg and to a broken camera, like his leg and then photos and a magazine cover to let us know what he does for a living. Then the camera goes back outside a second time for a closer look at what is going on with the people in those rooms across the way. It seems to be one or two long continuous shots

 

This opening scene does make me feel like a voyeur. I feel like I am doing something inappropriate by looking into people's apartment windows.

 

I agree this is Hitchcock's most cinematic film because first, the set is magnificent. The idea that it is an accurate, functioning set is amazing. Next, we have a wonderful view through each window enough to feel like we are doing something very wrong in looking. He uses his secondary characters fully and the tension keeps building throughout the film.  The best, of course, is how the story keeps us hanging throughout although we are sure that Raymond Burr killed his wife.  He doesn't miss a detail and the Hitchcock Touch is easy to identify.

 

Rear Window typifies his masterful use of controlling information to create suspense as well as putting the audience in the movie. We see through a voyeuristic point of view the events that Jeffery is seeing.   

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I watched Rear Window last night and it was interesting. As I sat down to watch it with my husband I said "I already have seen this a few times but I guess I'll watch it again for the course". Well, watching it this way as a student of Hitchcock was like watching it for the first time. I noticed so many more things than ever before. So here are my answers to the questions

 

1. a.   The opening camera shot is a POV shot, panning across the courtyard from the distance of the window and then into Jeffries apartment and then back out to the courtyard but moving in close to see inside the apartments. It's much like it would look if you were standing at the window yourself and observing the apartment complex as a visitor would. 

b.  The opening scene establishes life in a small apartment complex with a common courtyard. We see the everyday existence of people we don't know, the isolation and quietness of the courtyard and get a peek at what is happening in the street in front of those buildings too...where it is a much noisier and busier world. 

c.  We are seeing all this through our eyes as though we are sitting at the window....showing us what Jeffries sees all day every day. 

 

2.  a.  In this opening scene we lear that Jeff is injured, immobile, sleepy because of the heat, he is a photographer who has had some dangerous assignments, his favorite photos are hanging on the wall and they look like action photos, his fashion photography is not given such prestige. 

b.  Hitchcock gives us this background by slowly showing us his sweaty brow, his cast on his leg, his camera equipment, his wall of favorite photos (showing action or war shots), and the framed negative. 

 

3. a.  Actually the opening doesn't make me feel like a voyeur at all....I feel like a visitor to the apartment. 

b.  I get a feeling of curiosity looking out of the apartment not of guilt or of doing something wrong. Perhaps because I am a photographer I do not look at what Jeff is doing as voyeurism. Everywhere I look, I am always looking for a photograph, I need to be visually stimulated and I believe that Jeff is the same. Ask any photographer, I would imagine all of them are looking for more than what the eye can see. 

 

4.  This is an interesting question....I have not seen all of Hitchcocks films so it's hard to compare. But it is more interesting because I'm not sure what Hitchcock is talking about when he says the film is his most cinematic. The dictionary defines cinematic as "relating to motion pictures" or a "movie adaptation of a novel". That makes it difficult to say whether this film is more cinematic than another. However I recently heard cinematic described as film that makes you ask questions. If that's the definition we are using then I would say yes this is one of Hitchcocks most cinematic or maybe the most cinematic film.  From the first shot we have questions....where are we, who are these people, who is the man in the wheelchair, and as the film continues we have more...why does she love him so much, why is he so against marriage.....etc. etc. I do have to add one thing....I love how the peeking is through people's back windows....because we all know the facade of a house hides what goes on in the back rooms....great movie. 

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The opening camera shot is a slow pan around the entire courtyard to introduce the environment or "world" of this film from the audience's vantage point.  Then, we go "in" one apartment and see Jeff in a cast and wheelchair.  So, we assume he will be a main character and, of course, we realize the view from his window will be the courtyard. 

 

This opening scene provides a great deal of information about Jeff.  We see that it is very hot and they don't have air conditioning.  Then we see this character that we will know as Jeff has a broken leg and his name is L.B. Jeffries.  From the smashed camera (a professional-looking camera) and pictures in the room, we can conclude that he takes pictures in very dangerous settings and his most recent assignment (since this is the only unframed picture) was at a racecourse where he got a picture standing in the middle of the course as one of the cars crashed and overturned.  We can also deduce that this is how he got the broken leg and broken camera.  We  then see a number of other professional-looking cameras and camera equipment.  As the camera continues to pan around the room, we see a picture of a woman in a frame, but it is a "negative" of the picture and the "positive" view is seen on the cover of a magazine.  From this we can assume that he may have had a negative experience with this woman, or perhaps, women in general.  The magazine is on top of a large pile of the same magazine (and more beside it), so it would appear that he probably works for this magazine and has had a lot of pictures featured on the covers or within the magazine.  All of this information is obtained through the visual design (no dialogue) by seeing Jeff in his cast and wheelchair, his broken camera, and the pictures in his apartment.

 

Yes, this opening scene makes me feel slightly like a voyeur (only slightly since I am aware that I'm in my living room watching a movie).  My main feeling from this scene is curiosity as to how all of these people will fit into the story.

 

Yes, I agree this is probably Hitchcock's most "cinematic" film.  I wasn't clear exactly how to interpret the word "cinematic," so I looked it up and found the definition is "of or relating to a motion picture."  As the camera pans around the courtyard in this scene, it is impossible not to notice that the windows, with different people and actions in each, resemble small movie or TV screens with different "movies" in each.  So, in my opinion, that would make this film fit that definition of "cinematic" very well (and much better than the other Hitchcock films I've seen.)

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1. The opening shot of Rear Window is a view into the surrounding of Mr. Jefferies as the camera pans to the action in each individual apartment. We are voyers along with the main character.

 

2. With the pan through his apartment we can tell that Mr. Jefferies is a photographer who is sent on very high action, high adrenaline assignments that should have gotten him injured ten times over. 

 

3. The opened shot gives the viewer a feeling of being just as much of a peeping tom a the main character peeping right along with him.

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One thing that stuck out to me with the opening shot is how we are introduced to characters who are important throughout the film. So many of Hitchcock's earlier films gave us background on characters we would never hear from again, but with this movie it's more purposeful. It also threw me looking at the POV shot and then noticing that Jimmy Stewart is actually asleep. We're the only ones seeing the scene.

 

We can see that Jeff is a risk-taker, someone who always has action or something going on in his life. He seems exciting, due to the exciting photographs. But then of course he's stagnant since he can't go anywhere in his cast.

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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?

 

This establishing camera shot opens up a contained world of apartments all backing up on an interior courtyard.  In the Hitchcock world of film, it is a "slice of life", being lived by the various inhabitants with their own joys, problems, and, idiosyncrasies.  Most of them are concerned with their own lives and routines, but we, as the audience, are peering through the rear window of an apartment, and no one  can see us - or, our own problems and peccadilloes.  What an advantage the Peeping Tom has! No one else knows you are looking in at them.  That must be the hook that keeps them Peeping.  I took this opening shot to be the "every man's" 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 that Jeff is incapacitated with a broken leg (hip?) and it pretty much confined to a wheelchair.  As the camera pans around the room/apartment, we observe a smashed up camera; simply framed black and white photos of a car racing accident, a tanker fire, a terrible car accident, and, a bomb explosion; assorted camera/photography paraphernalia;  and, finally, the cover to a fashion magazine with a beautiful model on it - as well as a framed negative of that model shot.  With that non-verbal opening, we can deduce that it's a really hot and muggy day and Jeff is a world class news photographer who is currently not on the job due to injuries.

 

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'm not sure what a voyeur feels, but this opening scene made me very curious about what's behind the curtains.  I will admit, that when I'm walking in my neighborhood, or, anywhere, really, I will look in the windows and think I can learn something about the people who live behind the front doors.  In my mind, it's like window shopping.  This is maybe a common feeling among all humans, or most of us, anyway.  Hitchcock elicits interest and curiosity in me, but not prurient interest.  I think that feeling would be more like that of a voyeur.  Also, I couldn't help but notice the cat that's prancing up the stairs.  Was he/she also a curious?

 

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 the entire film, and would wholeheartedly agree that this film is his most cinematic.  He pulls out all the stops with the cast, story, music, color, wide-screen format, and lush cinematography. He takes advantage of the medium - to the best effect.

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Hitchcock immediately brings us into the film as voyeurs with the opening sequence. We're in Jeff's apartment, and what we see would be his POV, were he looking...but while we initially assume we're seeing what some main character is seeing, we soon find out Jeff's asleep, and in a sense we're seeing for him. This happens at other points in the film as well, when we see things he isn't. It's also similar to the opening of Rebecca, when the POV switches around from one character to another on the cliff, playing with our assumptions after initially being clearly the POV of the narrator. 

 

Hitchcock pretty much tells us all the exposition we need in the opening...there's a heat wave, we're in a city, Jeff's incapacitated, he appears to be a professional action photographer who clearly has nine lives. 

 

At first, I'm led innocently by the cat to just check out my surroundings, but soon, in another Hitchcock twist using public places, I realize I'm seeing many intimate moments...a couple waking up from bed, albeit on the fire escape, a woman getting dressed...and I'm a voyeur. I'm even watching Jeff sleep, utterly vulnerable. 

 

I find it difficult to choose a most cinematic Hitchcock, because to me he is one of the most cinematic of filmmakers, but this certainly has to be a top candidate. 

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