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Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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  1. The opening camera shot gives us all the information to understand who Jeffries is and why his leg is in a cast, it also depicts his neighbors and their daily morning routine. Hitchcock establishes a narrative of each character without use of dialog. The vantage point given is that of the viewer through the fourth wall.

 

In this scene, we learn that Jeff is a photo journalist for Life Magazine who is laid up in his apartment with a broken leg. He seems to have been hit by a race-car. Jeff's backstory is told simply by a shot of his broken leg, a broken camera, a photo of a car, and a Life magazine.

 

 

The opening scene can at times give the feeling of voyeurism, but at most it is the feeling of actually being Jeff and seeing what he does. The feelings I get are a sense of curiosity and a bit of guilt plus suspense.

 

Yes, I have seen the entire film many times and would absolutely have to agree that this is Hitchcock's most cinematic film. It is proven in the cinematography, the use of the same setting to tell a story, and the thrill of watching people up to no good...well some of them. :)

 

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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?

 

I would describe this shot as perfection. The sound design, the visuals which point the viewer to exactly what Hitch wants is to see which is establishing Jeff's world. The music is even welcome to my ears. I just want to be there is how I feel. Completely welcoming even the hot summer depiction is inviting to my eyes. I'd say the vantage is either the audiences or possibly the next person in his world. It's very possible that Hitch wants to set the audience separately until we emerse ourselves by design into his pov 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?

 

He highlights details about Jeff with camera and the costume (pjs), props (wheelchair), set dressing (apartment interior and studio exterior/interior), makeup (sweat), and the pace and choice to hold the shot to allow the moments to be grasped.

 

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 am a voyeur in film studies and feel pretty comfortable about watching this one time and time again. The movie works on so many levels and it's nice to read and watch others takes on it. I loved the lecture notes and discussion today even better than Notorious which was a close second so far. Psycho will be the deal breaker probably ;)

 

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

I agree wholeheartedly :) I think Hitch was the man! He was the best! This movie is a treasure.

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In the opening shots of the film, Hitchcock seems to be giving the audience an idea or a window if you'd rather, into what Jeff can see. We as the audience meet his neighbors and see what some of them do, an idea of who they are. 

 

Jeff is revealed fairly quickly to us as the audience by showing us where he lives, why at the moment he is there, and his sense of humor based on the cast. Then the camera pans to to Jeff's camera equipment, his photos, and a magazine cover giving us an idea how he met the woman in his life. 

 

This opening scene definitely gives the impression of living in a fishbowl where everybody can see in just like you can see out. The interesting part about that is how everybody just goes on with their normal business like nobodies watching. Even Jeff himself. In a way it does feel like intruding, but it's so fascinating that you can't turn away. 

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I stated this with much trepidation. That mr hitchcock stated in our video that Cary grant in rear window used a flashlight to stave off the criminal. Enough said.

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I was honestly waiting for the discussion about the incredible ability Hitchcock has with filming in a single set, I absolutely adore all his four films made this way (in fact, they are my favourites from him), I think this shows us how an amazing director he was, because to build an entire movie in a single place and not making it somehow boring or tiresome, actually quite the contrary, he creates masterworks with it, that's something that is really far from being easy. 

There's nothing artificial about this opening, everything is natural and realistic and once again we see how Hitchcock is really a silent picture guy, he's able to introduce us to a bunch of characters in less than three minutes without using a single word, just showing us enough to be familiar with them, for instance we know Jeff is a photographer because his works are shown to us. The director is also able to make us feel as a voyeur just like Jeff, he often puts the audience in the character's shoes.

I don't know if I see this film as his most cinematic, but definetly one of the most. His ability to shoot in a single location was more developed here in terms of setting, but other pictures have other strong points, for example Rope was filmed like a single take style, which I love and it's very challenging to achieve, and Lifeboat had a somewhat more claustrophobic scenery since there's just a boat full of people in the middle of the ocean, the challenges to not make this a wearing movie is greater.

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I stated this with much trepidation. That mr hitchcock stated in our video that Cary grant in rear window used a flashlight to stave off the criminal. Enough said.

I think it was terrible that no one corrected him and just let him go on looking foolish. Had I been there I would have gently said, “Mr. Hitchcock, I think you meant to say James Stewart.”

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I love the opening scene with its jazzy score. The courtyard is so rich with life of all sorts, plant, animal, and human. Unlike the dualities of Strangers on a Train, this film offers a complex grid with so many stories, so many possibilities. It is a portrait of life in Manhattan when ordinary people could still live there. The scene is from the POV of James Stewart's apartment, but it is not his POV--it's ours. We (and Hitchcock) are exploring the courtyard as Scottie sleeps. It is clear that there are, as the opening of the show Naked City used to point out, a thousand stories in the city, just waiting for us to see them. And I don't feel like a voyeur! The windows are open and the curtains are open. In city life, we know we are on stage. The transgressions come later when Kelly moves into the actual spaces rather than just looking.

 

We see Stewart asleep and sweating--it is not a peaceful sleep on this hot summer night. His apartment reveals his occupation and suggests that he is recovering from an accident that occurred on the job. His photographs appear in national magazines and they cover the dark side of life as well as its most fashionable. He is a star in his world---I think it would be exciting for Kelly to meet and pursue someone like him. I think he is afraid of her because he likes to be invisible, the man behind the camera, not the object of her gaze. There has been a lot of interesting scholarship on the gaze (like the work of Helene Cixous) and this film was way ahead of its time in exploring what it means to be the watched and the watcher. It's complicated because the opening scene shows us that we can look out at the courtyard as Stewart and Kelly will do, but we in the audience can also look in the apartment at its contents and its two star inhabitants. And they look at each other.

 

I have little interest in making rankings of whether Rear Window should win the trophy of "most cinematic." I stand with some of my fellow classmates who have noted that films can be cinematic in many ways. Yet, I also respect Hitchcock's judgement that this film is his most cinematic. Perhaps he continued to value the silent film medium above all for its purely visual narrative. We learn what we know in this film mostly by looking rather than through dialogue as in the scene for today's daily dose. Even so, many of his other films use a compelling and original cinematic grammar that we have analyzed throughout the course. Also, I would argue that a director like Eric Rohmer who depends much more on dialogue is highly cinematic in his own way. So I guess I would need to spend more time working out the meaning of the term.

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I’m curious as to when the meaning of voyeur changed from the original French definition.

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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?           Amazing!  It is a sweeping vantage point of Jeff's world that he is stuck in for the present because of a broken leg.  We see the apartments and buildings and surroundings.  We even learn about Jeff.  I feel like Hitchcock is showing us how the world is a theater even when we are in a city setting that isn't 100% spiffy clean.  We are being shown Jeff's vantage point even though he is asleep so we are also introduced as voyeurs.  The music makes it seem like a cozy and safe place at least to me!  
  •  
  • What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)? How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design?       He is a photographer that got too close to the action and has a broken leg now.  It is in the city and it is hot.  He is not asleep in his bed like he should be!  It looks like he is an action photographer and may travel a lot.  
  • 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?   Definitely a voyeur.  I am too shy to look out the window that long even if there were no people so I felt like I was more of a voyeur than an immobile spectator.  I think because of the music I felt like I was having a pleasant afternoon just relaxing - gazing outside the window - and because it is so hot - people might understand if I lingered too long staring in their direction!   Yet somehow I sense danger and not just because I have seen the movie so many times.  The city setting and so many people in an enclosed place.  Be careful!
  •  
  • Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic?    Wow.  This is where my lack of education catches up with me.  The fact that I can watch this movie over and over again more than any other makes me think there is something to Hitchcock's opinion!!    The amazing set and instantly I forget about how stressed out I am and am sucked into this world.  Maybe I can better answer this question in another year when I have studied more.
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I think it's a terrific opening scene, the movement of the camera that makes you feel that you are looking out of the window. The opening scene establishes that there is a lot of drama in the apartment complex.

The camera focuses on Jimmy Stewart in the wheel chair with his leg in a cast. Then the camera moves along to show a broken camera which must occurred when he broke his leg. Then you see the different photos that he has taken through out his career.

I feel like the character being stuck in a wheel chair, seeing what is going on outside my window.When the camera focuses on the other tenants you feel like you know them and what they are feeling.

I love this film I think is very realistic like you are in that neighborhood.

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1. The opening scene gives you all the sights and sounds of early morning in the city. The set and sound design could have been any neighborhood in a large city. I felt like I was standing there with my tea checking out the morning activity in the hood. Because it's hot everyone has their windows open so you can hear radios, kids fighting etc. The cat going up the stairs and the milkman walking toward the street giving it even more of a neighborhood feel. The music isn't exactly light but not dark of things to come.

 

2. As the camera pans to Jeff, you can see his smashed camera. One can assume that it happened when he broke his leg. He's not only a photographer of sports but of current events and even the cover of magazines. The scene shows that Jeff's world isn't confined to his apartment but a voyeurist one to his neighbors.

 

3. Having been ill and having surgery in the past few years I know how Jeff feels being confined to his chair. Unfortunately I didn't have interesting neighbors to watch but the wild life. I've seen this movie before and I never really felt like a voyeur but someone that was that was enjoying people watching.

 

4. Yes, I agree that it's the most cinematic. The attention to the littlest of detail can be seen here.

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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 camera shot is luring us towards the window, luring us to look out and see the outside world from our safe space indoors.  It’s as Hitchcock himself said, that none of us can resist the temptation of looking out at our neighbors, that few of us look away and resist by asserting other people’s lives are none of our business.  As you know from my profile name, I live in NYC.  It is near impossible not to look!  And try to see more than you’re supposed to!!

 

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 thrives on being close to danger and extreme situations; he does this through his photography, which, given it’s his profession, excuses him to get very, very close to real danger.

 

We have Jeff’s backstory through the camera on the table, the photos of explosions and cars and also through the woman on the magazine cover. We learn his name from what’s written on his leg cast. 

 

Herein lies the reason this course is so eye opening – I’ve seen this movie multiple times, and never realized, much less appreciated, how much I learned about the story line in the first 2.5 minutes w/o dialogue!

 

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

Yes, it reminds me I’m an immobile spectator b/c I have no control over how much I see beyond what the film allows me to see. I want to know more about what the interiors of these apartments look like. In fact, I saw this in a movie theater when TCM ran it a year or so ago for this very reason. I could see more detail and it was great fun!

 

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

I’ll cop to having looked up the word “cinematic”, to be absolutely clear I understand the meaning.  “Filmed and presented as a motion picture”, motion as in “moving”.  Yes, if by this comment Hitchcock meant that watching the film for us as immobile spectators (to borrow your phrase, Prof Edwards) is one that is exceptionally captivating and alluring, then yes, I absolutely agree. 

 

 

This is a flawless film in my view!

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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?

I believe that Hitchcock’s opening for Rear Window can be interpreted in two ways. Viewers can believe that the director is simply telling us the groundwork behind Jeff’s current situation, and/or they can interpret the movement of the camera as representing each viewer walking through Jeff’s apartment and inspecting the memorabilia of his life. When the camera stopped on the various photographs, I felt like I was supposed to reach out and pick up each one, inspect them even more closely. It might have been the negative of the cover model that really made me feel like I was the participant, although the negative made me wonder: Are we getting too close, invading privacy?

 

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 give us Jeff’s back story simply through visual design?

See number 1.

 

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?

Not exactly an immobile spectator (see number 1), but I did feel like Hitchcock was telling viewers with his opening shot that to see Rear Window is to become a spectator and join the actors in the story to come.

 

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 would agree with the assertion that Rear Window is Hitchcock’s most cinematic film, for two reasons. Now that I have learned that the set was built for the film, I find the film to be an example of everything “artificial” being brought “to life” because viewers see all the action, all the apartments, and all the characters through the lens of Hitchcock’s camera. In such a confined and controlled environment, not even a passing stranger could wander by in the background.

          And the opening of the film tells viewers that they are viewing everything through a camera lens. In most films, the idea is that viewers are to suspend disbelief and become absorbed by the story to unfold. Even though that happens for me and I am absorbed by the story in Rear Window, Hitchcock, through his opening, bluntly tells me that I have no reason to believe the story or that anything about the story is even capable of inspiring verisimilitude. (Can’t believe I get to use that word!)

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1. Opening shot - Hitch always gives us all of the info we need right at the beginning. The camera carefully pans the outer world of the shared backyard of multiple apartment buildings. Our POV guides us from the apartment's interior, over the window ledge into this outer world. The camera pans down, as we see a cat going up some steps. It pans right, up, down and left so we see what Jeff sees and we meet his neighbors. His view is our POV. The camera then gets a little more personal - a view of the inner world of LB Jeffries as it pans across his apartment and shows us things all about him.

 

2. Who is Jeff? The interior pan shows us everything we need to know about Jeff through views of him and artifacts around his apartment:

- Broken leg

- Broken camera on a table with racing car action photo behind it. We can connect the dots between his broken leg, the broken camera and the spectacular photo.

- Other action photos are hanging on the wall.

- A negative of a young woman is displayed proudly with the printed magazine showing that photo. It is on top a stack of magazines. This tells us that although he is an action photographer, it is not totally beneath him to take fashion pics when he has to!

- The tables are covered with other cameras and peripheral equipment. This reinforces the idea that he is a professional photographer.

 

3. Feelings about voyerism, watching or looking? Hitch always plays with the notion of watching or being watched. The camera POV definitely put me in the watching (voyeur) vein. Initially I didn't feel uncomfortable since I grew up in a NYC apartment building with a central court yard. Everyone looked out of their windows...to converse with neighbors, to watch their kids, to pass the time. My personal experience was one of neighborly friendliness. I cannot recall, from my personal childhood experiences, ever thinking that we were voyeurs looking for the seedy side of life. That being said, we don't see any children in this courtyard. We can hear their laughter off screen - from the glimpse of the street to the left side of the set but they are not a part of this story. There is a decidedly adult tone to this scene and because it is all about adults, then adult dramas are likely to emerge. So as we take on this POV we are more like voyeurs. Thelma Ritter had a great line about people stepping outside of their apartments and looking in.

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Daily Dose #14...Rear Window 1954

 

I first notice the cat going up the steps meowing...morning & it is hungry...pigeons, a dog, people & the milkman...it is morning & everyone & everything is waking up. Except L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies  (Jimmy Stewart) who is sweating in the mid 90 degree heat & he is asleep with his back to this scene we are watching.

 

We are seeing it through a zoom lens on the camera ... this same camera shows us the interior of Jeff's apartment & this is how we learn he is in a  wheelchair, with a broken leg...Here Lie the Broken Bones of L.B. Jefferies ...like a card in a silent film we read this on his leg cast ... we see the broken camera of Jeff ... the lens is ruined. We learn his name & his profession in this opening scene. He makes his living with a camera...watching people.

 

We are invited to watch.

 

How do I feel about watching other people? I am a photog myself as I have often mentioned here. Some people do not like being watched or photographed & some live for it. P

photogs like the latter more than the former. We like the performers. 

 

Watching other people in their homes...that gives me the creeps...I would be afraid of what I might see. However, if someone is doing something that they should not be doing well...

 

Is this a cinematic film? Yes... it is highly visual...not much dialogue. We see the characters first introduced  like a silent film...the apartment dwellers & the photographer who watches them.

 

Hitchcock appears in the apartment of  the character "the songwriter" (Ross Bagdasarian) ...Hitchcock is the clock winder-upper.

 

Words like voyeurism...spectators ...yes this film is based on voyeurism & we are spectators in this watching.  Jeff thinks he sees a murder & we see it with him.

 

To repeat myself, I would be afraid to watch this many people because I would be afraid of what I might see & then I would have to  make a decision to ignore or act on that which is seen. Just like Jeff.

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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?

 

If I had to pick just one word to describe this shot, I think I'd have to go with "convincing". Even though I'm quite aware that this is a custom-built contained set on a sound stage, it really doesn't feel like one. All the little touches really convince me that this is a real little neighborhood where people actually live out their real lives. You even see the milkman leaving after his daily deliveries, as well as a group of children playing in the street. 

 

Hitch is establishing this little place as a microcosm of the larger world beyond these couple of apartment buildings. Each little apartment is yet another small world encased within that microcosm. It feels like real life, but not quite -- a bit like watching movies within movies, but then that's a big underlying theme for this film. It's morning and everyone is just waking up, so I almost feel like I'm just now arriving at a theater or a movie house, getting ready to sit down and enjoy the show.

 

That said, I suppose the vantage point is mine, since it cannot be Jeff's. I'm getting ready to watch Jeff's day unfold just as he will soon be doing the same in regards to the people that live across the way. Thinking about that almost makes me wonder who might be watching me somewhere as I sit here studying my Hitch lessons for the day! (I also wonder who would care or find that interesting, but then I totally just sat here watching Miss Torso do her morning stretches and get her breakfast like it was the most interesting thing in the world. A lot of movies aren't necessarily about anything much -- just relationships, normal people, and normal things -- yet we eat them up anyway. People are quite simply interested in people.)

 

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?

 

Studying the set design is one of my favorite things to do when I'm watching a movie because of all the little details you can pick up about the characters, so I love that Hitch elected to treat me to a visual tour of Jeff's apartment before he wakes for the day. Clearly, Jeff is a relatively serious photographer, as his apartment is filled with professional photography equipment. He is also quite varied as far as what he does. A lot of his shots are action-oriented photojournalistic shots, but others look like fashion photos, portraits, or street photography.

 

We can see that he does this for at least part of his living, as some of his photos have been published. The cover shot on the stack of magazines is clearly his, as he has a creative negative-style version of it framed right next to it. He is good at what he does and probably very experienced, as amateur photographers don't often have their material gracing magazine covers.

 

You also get some insight as to how Jeff probably broke his leg in the first place. There's a framed shot of a race car wreck that shows a loose tire flying straight for the photographer. It is juxtaposed with an obliterated camera, so you know for sure the person that took the shot didn't manage to simply jump out of the way at the last second. Jeff also saved the camera instead of throwing it away, as well as displayed it near the racing photo, so he's probably proud of the ballsiness he showed in capturing that shot, as opposed to wishing he hadn't risked his life like that. This is someone with guts and grit that does not shy away from danger or challenges.

 

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?

 

A little, yeah. I don't feel like I'm looking out the window for some kind of sex kick or anything, but I definitely feel like a curious spectator. Like most people, whether they admit it or not, I enjoy people watching. It's fun to wonder about other people's lives and -- right or wrong -- it's kind of exciting to watch people that don't know they're being watched. That's when people are at their most real, even if they're doing nothing more than sipping a cup of tea at the kitchen table in the morning. Most of us don't actively seek out that experience, but (as was touched on in the lecture notes/video) we probably don't avert our eyes right away either if we happen upon it by chance. It's a very normal, very human thing to be curious about others, I think.

 

As far as feelings elicited? I'd say... well... curiosity really is the strongest one. This looks like a nice neighborhood filled with normal (but interesting) folks -- people I wouldn't mind getting to know if I lived there. I have questions about their lives. What type of show is the gymnast/dancer training for? What is the musician writing? Where does the man in the corner apartment putting on his tie happen to work? What do his wife and kids like to do while he's gone for the day? What will the person who received the milk delivery use the milk for? I can't wait to find out a few of the answers, as well as ask still more questions as I get to know these folks better.

 

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

 

I've seen this film quite a few times, so yes. I would definitely agree with Hitch. He broke this film down to the bare bones of what it means to watch, shoot, or contemplate a film in the first place and he's done it in a wonderfully creative way that doesn't feel forced or fall flat at all. At the end of the day, we all really like the feeling of being a fly on the wall that movies deliver. It gives you a way to go someplace and explore something new without going anywhere at all. You're both stationary, but exploring far away all at once -- just like Jeff is doing as a way to get through his recovery without going crazy from boredom!

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The (continuous) opening shot of Rear Window is a survey of the entire physical world of this film, with just glimpses of some of the the people who populate this world.  While the characters (except for Jeff) are free to come and go, there are stories here, in this confined world.  While much of the film will be told from Jeff's pov, this establishing shot (which includes Jeff) is a third-person perspective (the audience).  

 

Through this opening sequence, we learn that Jeff is a successful photographer, and we can infer that Jeff takes risks for his craft/art.  The smashed camera and enlarged photograph of race car flying toward the camera that captured the photograph are trophies, and the the other photographs of a huge fire and the atomic bomb test suggest that Jeff is drawn to danger.  The photograph of the woman on the magazine cover also suggest that Jeff has an eye for beauty.  

 

This opening scene does make me feel somewhat like a Peeping Tom as the perspective is clearly that of someone looking into private spaces from outside, without the awareness of the people who live in those spaces.  

 

I would agree Rear Window is one Alfred Hitchcock's most cinematic, notwithstanding the confined setting of the film.  There is action/reaction in almost every scene, and there's never a sense that the film is talky.

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Daily Dose #14 Rear Window

 

"We're all pawns, my dear"  (The Admiral, teaching chess, episode one, The Prisoner)

 

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?     

 

     Taking the last question first, the audience viewer is the one whose vantage point is being expressed in a POV shot.  it begins with us standing in front of the windows who's drapes have just been opened, standing beside the sweating brow of L.B. Jefferies, photojournalist.  It is an establishing shot that opens the picture, we see that the apartment overlooks a courtyard, that we are not on the first floor (the downward shot of the cat crossing underneath us reveals that) and it is hot for so early in the morning.  Although it feels like it, it is not strictly a single cut, the sequence is a series of 4 cuts.

 

***

CAMERA MOVEMENT TERMS  for those who don't know them

Dolly - move camera forward or back  (as opposed to moving entire camera left or right which is rightly called a TRUCK)

 

Pan - move camera lens to the left or right

 

Tilt - camera lens up or down

 

***

 

DOLLY into window

CUT TO Downward shot of Cat, follow cat then Tilt up, Pan left then down for the milkman and dolly back to sweating brow

CUT TO Shot of temperature gauge showing how hot it is, then pan to songwriter, etc 

CUT TO Mattress couple, before dollying camera back and then panning around the apartment.

 

It is a brilliant way of giving us both setting and back story to L.B. Jefferies without saying a word.

 

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 give us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design?

 

By the tools of his trade, and his photographs on the wall.  He is a skilled photographer, not only of cover models but also of action.  The broken camera  lies on a table nearby, the photo that it most likely took last (the wheel flying towards the camera) already framed on the wall.  The negative framed, the positive shown on a magazine cover near it.  Great design .

 

 

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

 

     Being naturally curious creatures, and watching a film, we're trying to garner as much information as possible as early on as possible in case it is relevant later (which is why that flash in an upper apartment during the opening still drives me crazy!  Was it deliberate?  A happy accident?  Who is living up there??)

We ARE Voyeurs during this scene because the director WANTS us to be.  And he succeeds very nicely.

 

 

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

 

Hey, who am I to argue with genius? Although North by Northwest might give it a run for its money...

 

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Another great opening shot from Hitch for this movie. In just over two minutes, we get a kind of preview of what's going to transpire for most of the film! It lets us know that WE are the voyeurs here, not the sleeping Jeff.


 


I love how the shot starts off low, following a cat, that greatest of prowlers/voyeurs. The shot follows a rectangular pattern, then there are cuts to several of the apartments, showing intimate scenes, particularly of "Miss Torso," topless at first.


 


Then the camera "prowls" Jeff's apartment, and we discover everything we need to know about him; his job, his accident, his static position.


 


Also interesting is the choice of music. It's not "morning" music at all, but a rumba (I think), with a kind of Arabic-sounding melody that indicates energy and restlessness.


Yep, we're in a city.


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  1. How would you describe the opening camera shots 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? Just an average day into the American lifestyle of different people and their rooms that represent a genre. Different people leading different lives that feel as if they contradicted each other. The audience is being expressed in this shot at the 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 give us Jeff's backstory simply through visual design? We learn that he is a photographer for Life magazine and when he was reporting on a race car event, the car immediately crashed thereby damaging his camera and reducing Jeff to sit in a wheelchair.

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? It makes me feel like an immobile spectator, because when I am at my house all day, I barely see any action or motivation that keeps me moving or feeling interested in. Hitch would convey feelings of arousal, laughter, happiness, and tear-jerking pain and anguish.

Bonus question: If you have seen this film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I would have to disagree. I feel that this film was his most experimental, but I believe it is too far from left field to call it cinematic, I would think of it as pushing the limits of how far a filmmaker can go from judging distance and giving the viewer some thoughts on the process.

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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 is a tracking shot - we see the entire backyard. We know that all of the action is going to take place in this confined space - The confines of Jefferies room, and the confines of the backyard. We the audience are the voyeurs, as is Hitchcock, as filmmaker. A filmmaker looks at people's lives in film and shows their stories to us. 

     

  2. What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)? How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design? We learn that he is a photographer - His camera has been smashed - just as his leg has been smashed. We know he take photos around the world - but he also takes fashion photos. 

     

 

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 are voyeurs and we enjoy seeing other people's lives - To see if they are like us, or do sordid things - like Thorwald. 

 

Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I would say no, it isn't. Yes, it totally focuses on the backyard, but there are more expansive scenes in other movies: The crop duster scene in North by Northwest and the escape down Mount Rushmore, the bird attack scene in town in The Birds.  

 

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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 that Hitchcock is trying to establish that the entire Courtyard is a character in the film much like Manderlay was a character in Rebecca. The vantage point is the audience's, Hitchcock is showing us the forest before we get to see each tree

 

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 learned that Jeff is a world-renowned photographer who was in an accident, most likely the car wreck photograph is why he's in a wheelchair. We also learned that Jeff has been present during history making events, the picture of the atomic bomb test.

 

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 really feel the voyeurism in this film. There's a bit of discomfort and intrusion while watching the people begin their day.

 

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

 

I do agree that this may be his most cinematic film but it's only rival is North by Northwest.

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I would describe the opening camera shot of this film as it's a sizzling hot day in the city and doesn't anyone have a fan?  Not even a hand fan? And no flies coming in and out?  I think Hitchcock is seeking to establish the flavor of his cinema -- the story -- summer time apartment dwellers minding their own businesses and who cares, except for the wheelchair bound Jeff who has nothing else to do but be bored and nosy.  The bored nosy neighbor who also happens to be a photographer.  I think the residents' vantage points are being expressed in this opening shot.

I think what we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue is that he is bored and itchy and wants out of that cast, that he had an accident of some sort and that he is either the photographer of those action photos or someone else took them.  It gives us Jeff's back story simply through visual design by the photos and camera and his confinement to the wheelchair, that something happened.

No, this scene does not make me feel like a voyeur or an immobile spectator, I guess because since the residents don't care that their lives on these scorching summer days are an open book by shades all the way up and windows wide open, and life as usual, then I don't think anything of it either. I find it entertaining. And the way that Hitchcock set it up, it's like we are watching from a far distance everybody at the same time and not going right into their complete privacies.

The feelings Hitchcock elicits from me as his camera peers into these other people's apartments -- is frankly, to me, a feeling of Westside Story -- the setting; I'm waiting for Maria to slip out onto the fire escape any minute and begin to sing Tonight.  But o.k., in terms of Rear Window, the feelings I get here from the very onset opening is that with so much goings on, I am looking for something to happen within someone or something in this group.  And we are not really 'into these other people's apartments' as much as we are observing into these other people's apartments -- like Jeff.

I don't remember the entire film to the end but since I have not seen every one of Hitchcock's films and to the very end, I cannot say if this is his most cinematic.  But since this is his film, his direction, and that is what he says about it -- that this film is his most cinematic -- then I am not going to disagree; after all, he was Director, and of them all.  I will say I think and thought his The Birds was highly cinematic.

 

 

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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 shot is pretty ingenious, because there are really no cuts to it. You're able to get a clear view of the apartment complex, which Hitchcock establishes that you are going to see these people and their lives again throughout the film. In terms of vantage point, I think it belongs to the audience because you are catching a glimpse of what's going on in other apartments when you're not with Jimmy Stewart. It's like each apartment is a mini movie that will eventually have a resolution. Life will go on when Stewart isn't looking, and life will go when he is. 

 

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 opening, we see that Jeff is confined to a wheelchair in a stifling New York apartment with a broken leg. He is a photographer who was basically at the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no need for dialogue because each item on his desk tells us his profession and how he got to be in the wheelchair, from the broken camera to a magazine cover. Hitchcock allows us to get details on Jeff's world before anything is said or spoken. In this case, our intelligence isn't insulted by this technique.

 

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?

 

Due to the opening, you start to feel like you're eavesdropping into Jeff's neighbors, for better or worse. This is good and bad thing. The good: you able to get to know a little about these people, and they are not here just for show. They have personality, even if not every aspect of their lives is explored. The bad: you're snooping into their lives even when they don't want you to. You are able to find things to relate to with his neighbors. You feel sympathy and jealousy, because maybe their lives are better or worse than yours.

 

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 films so many times. It is one of my top five favorite films of all-time. In terms of 'cinematic', I have to agree because it is arguably his most fully realized film. Hitchcock went down to bare essentials of plot, space, characters, wardrobe, and dialogue. Although there are other films that were a little bolder: Vertigo, Psycho, Marnie, Spellbound, Rebecca, among others, Rear Window really represented his mastery at an all-time high. You can watch it repeatedly and find details you may have missed previous times. The more you see it, the more modern it has become. It dates less than some of his other films, especially when it comes to themes of marriage and the differences between men and women. 

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​1. I guess I would describe the opening shot of the film as interesting, and wow is it detailed. Hitchcock really put in the effort to make real apartments, and make the audience feel like those people actually live there. It has everything from the backdrop of the New York skyline to kids playing in the street, and a truck driving past, not to mention the flowers, white birds on the roof, and weathered look of the bricks. It establishes the entire world of this film - everything Jeff can see, we can see, no more, no less. This is the viewpoint of the audience and not a specific character, because Jeff is asleep. This only adds to the 'play within a play' feel for the entire movie, as we are watching him watch others, and the viewpoint never leaves that room.

 

​2. From the simple camera panning of the room, we not only learn that Jeff is a professional photographer, but that he likes to live dangerously. There are camera lenses and bulbs laid out neatly on a table, and several framed pictures that were presumably taken by him. We know he is a risk taker because most of the pictures are of high-action incidents - a car crash, a bomb, an explosion. There are also the remains of a smashed camera, which we can assume happened when he broke his leg, and a stack of magazines with a picture of a woman on them. He has the same picture framed next to the stack, but with a different filter (is that the right word?), showing that he knows this girl and she means something to him. This all through visuals, in the silent film style that Hitch loved.

 

​3. This scene does not make me feel creepy, like I am intruding on these people's lives, or immobile in any way, but rather it draws me in and I am intrigued. I am curious to know more about these people who are all so different. I suppose I might be a little nervous to see things I shouldn't, like when the camera sees Miss Torso half naked, but overall it just seems natural and human to observe other people and their lives as long as its not an obsession.

 

​4. I actually own this movie, and yes I would agree that this is his most cinematic film because, like I mentioned before, it is like a double movie. Jeff is like the audience, watching his neighbors and all of their little side stories, and is in the same position as us. It is only when he interferes that we are then watching his story too as well as everyone else's. There is also all of the theatrical language that Kelly uses in one of this scenes that was mentioned in the lecture video.

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