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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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Daily Dose #14: Here Lie the Broken Bones of L.B. Jefferies 

Opening Scene of Rear Window (1954)

 

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

 

The raising of curtains in an apartment mirrors the raising of a curtain for play. From there we go to a tour of the tenants having a normal day. Finally we are in Stewarts apartment being shown various objects that informs us of Stewart’s physical condition, occupation and boredom.

 

1b. What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film? 

 

This establishes Stewarts character and our POV for the rest of the movie. Followed by the excuse for what Hitchcock realized his main character would be accused of, voyeurism. Jeff is stuck in that chair against his will. If he could be anywhere else he would, but not his fault he gets to watch his neighbors, even he lingers on Ms. Torso.

 

 

1c. Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window?

 

Our vantage point of view is being stated. We will identify with Jeff’s concerns, limitations and situation.

 

2. What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)?

 

See answers to 1b and 1c. 

 

2b. How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design?

 

Showing us the reason for Jeff being laid up and his profession. A broken camera, dramatic photographs, covers of magazines, 

 

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

 

Nope. Not at all. I was raised in 5 floor walkups in NY. Sitting in a window, looking across the street, looking down at people walking by on the sidewalk is simply a pastime. I realize that Hitchcock has stated Stewart’s character is a peeping tom, however I disagree with the notion that this is what is going on. To me a peeping tom is someone who spies on others for a sexual fulfillment. With the exception of Ms. Torso, and even there her purpose is to provide an opportunity for Hitchcock to display the school boy humor with regards to sex he features in all his films, not titillation or arousal.

 

In fact, something that I don’t see in reviews of Rear Window is that what is being shown is a community of people, aware of each other and their lives. That sense of community, even to someone as transient as Stewart’s character, is what begins the search to determine if some wrong has been committed.

 

3b. What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments?

 

See above, 3a.

 

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

 

I would agree more with the statement that this is a refinement of Hitchcock’s “pure cinema” adapted to contemporary standards of the time. Maybe Vertigo would be considered more cinematic with Rear Window a close second. Deciding which of Hitchcock’s movies is the most cinematic is difficult. Wouldn’t his silent films be closer to “pure cinema”?

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Bear with me adding to the above. It occurs to me that part of the relationship shown between Jeff and Francie attempts to deal with criticisms that Stewart was too old for their relationship. Her constant pursuit in spite of his rejection reminds me of what I’ve read about Cary Grant insisting that if he was pursuing Audrey Hepburn in Charade he would appear to be a dirty old man due their age difference. On the other hand if she pursued him that would be ok. I’ve read where Hitchcock blamed part of Vertigo’s poor box office returns on the fact that Stewart was too old for the part. Having someone Stewart’s age being pursued by Kelly dealt with the age difference, a trope that was not available in Vertigo where Scotty falls in love and pursues Judy.

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1.       The Daily Dose shot from Rear Window is actually three shots: As the “floating camera” begins to exit Jeff’s window, we cut to the black cat in the courtyard. After that pan of the neighbors, we end up on sweat on Jimmy Stewart’s forehead. Then we cut to the thermometer (to see that it’s in the 90s) and continue on our second tour of the neighbors. In these tours, Hitchcock shows us the variety of lives that are living together in this enclosed area. (Significantly, we don’t focus on the Thorwalds’ apartment yet.) The vantage point in this film is very close to Jeff, but it’s not Jeff himself except for the POV shots scattered throughout the film. We are usually, though not exclusively, watching from or in Jeff’s apartment.

2.       The camera gives us a tour of Jeff’s situation, mostly through a virtuoso continuous shot, which comes (incredibly) at the end of a shot that included another tour of the neighbors: We see that he’s hot, in pajamas, and in a wheelchair; that his leg is in a cast; that his name is L.B. Jefferies; that his camera is busted; that the camera probably got busted and the leg probably got broken getting a shot of an auto race crash; that he takes pictures of dangerous things – a fiery explosion, a wartime village, an atomic bomb (!); that he owns many other cameras and equipment; and that he takes cover photos for magazines.

3.       There is certainly a sense of peeping into people’s apartments; we prowl like the black cat who leads us in. On the first go-around, we stay back at a greater focal length and don’t stop at any of the apartments. On the second round, we spy on the neighbors, who presumably don’t know we’re peeping. The Composer is in his pajamas shaving. The older couple is waking up in their pajamas on the fire escape. We watch Miss Torso dance around as she prepares for the day, even watching her put her bra top on. As a viewer, I feel we’re already looking at private moments, even a bit of a voyeur as we linger on Miss Torso longer than the others.

 

4.       There could be many contenders for the “most cinematic” among Hitchcock’s films, but this is the one that is the most metaphorical about watching films. Like Jeff, film viewers are essentially immobile, watching private lives on screens, and we don’t expect people from those worlds to interact in our lives, although significantly it’s Jeff that first starts trying to affect Thorwald’s life via the letter and the phone call to make him leave the apartment. The rectangles of the apartment windows are like screens showing different programs.

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The opening shot shows that a variety of activities, both usual and unusual, are happening in this busy apartment complex.  Hitch makes the viewer an immediate voyeur, whether we like it or not!  We are not seeing through Jeff's eyes, but rather our own.

 

When the camera pans around his apartment, we can see that Jeff is an accomplished sports/action photographer.  We are not certain how his leg or camera got broken, but we assume it was in a dramatic fashion, judging by the pictures we are seeing.  We get a humorous touch to his unfortunate situation with the message on Jeff's cast. He appears to be a stoic and serious man, however, based on the initial shots we are seeing of him.

 

This scene/movie gives the viewer a front-row angle of what Jeff is seeing.  We have no choice but to let our eyes follow along, if we want to see what's going on.  We are watching someone watching others, which is rather odd! 

 

I do agree that "Rear Window" is Hitchcock's most cinematic film, with the set itself taking on a life of its own.  The fact that it's in color adds a realistic dimension that is not always captured in black and white.    

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" Why would this incredible woman exert so much effort on this not so attractive or attentive man? I came to think that Jeff became something of a "cause" for Lisa....her chance to get the guy who didn't want to be gotten. The only problem for her is, it's not working. So she's got to go to great lengths and even put her life in danger to impress him.  Now why Jeff isn't crazy about Lisa....that's just inexplicable."

 

I agree this is the wonder of the film! Regarding Lisa, the idea of a "cause" is a good one.  Women in her class did pick causes to work on, they didn't they?  I need to see this again to pay close attention to the dialog, but she could also be attracted to him because of who he WAS, not who he is now. In her society position, she must meet a lot of "the right boys", i.e., boring sons of bankers and guys poised to take over daddy's chemical factory who all go to the same club and vacation at the same spot. We know from her action in the film that she is an adventure-seeker herself.  Maybe that was her attraction to him. Doesn't she imply that she can travel with him but he tells her no?

 

Regarding Jeff's feelings towards Lisa- there are Freudian readings of this film that have to do with impotency, preference for voyeurism over agency, and most definitely, the symbolism of that giant long-lensed camera that he seems to have as an extension of his body!  Is he feeling less of a man now that he can't have his foreign adventures and prove his manliness? His costuming too serves him up as an invalid with a frailty that seems to go beyond a busted leg. He's got a gorgeous woman right next to him and yet Miss Torso seems to equally hold his attention. Something telling for me is that awesome POV shot when Lisa's close up face moves toward the camera, presumably to kiss Jeff. She is beautiful and yet there is a a sense of menace at the same time!  "We" are trapped and can't move!     

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1) The opening of the film makes us the viewer the voyeur. Right from the start we are getting a snapshot into these characters lives all while Jimmy Stewart aka L.B. Jefferies is in a state of unsettling sleep in his wheelchair. The factor that Hitchcock makes the audiences voyeurs from the very beginning is a new experience, some may be uncomfortable while some may be extremely curious.

 

2) Jefferies is an action photographer and Hitchcock showcases this by showing some of his photos that he has taken starting at a race car crash of sorts in which a broken camera sets on the table in front of that photo--could this be the one shot that caused such harm to our brave photographer? I enjoyed the little tour if you will of some of his work that he was able to capture, and I don't think the scene would've worked as nicely with narration, or dialogue, etc. Hitchcock wanted to let the pictures do the talking, and they as a whole speak volumes.

 

3) Very interestingly put. To me it walks a fine line, because at first with Jefferies excuse about the man being a murderer I'm like "Oh poor guy the heat is getting to him as he's all cooped up in his apartment" but the more we are peering into the other rooms and seeing the different actions, events, etc. the more I feel like we are meant to see all of this for the bigger picture, we are along for the ride as Jefferies tries to do his best snapshot of all--proving a murderer exists within their small community of expressive neighbors. 

 

4) Absolutely from the set, to the characters individual mannerisms, the peeking in of many different rooms and the subtle and major differences invoked from each person, etc. This film is a true inspiration for any filmmaker or aspiring filmmaker due to the vast artistic scope that Hitchcock was able to obtain.

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Behind the opening credits accompanied by Franz Waxman’s driving jazz, three sets of window blinds rise, theatre fashion, to reveal urban apartments and their inhabitants.  Hitchcock’s Robert Burk is filming from my point of view, audience center.  He takes me through the fourth wall to numerous vignettes that act as teasers for the films within the film. 

 

1.       Cat, easy up

2.       Pan, counterclockwise to father, mother, daughter on balcony; sleeper w/arm hanging through the balcony rails; blonde at bathroom window; milkman, heading back to delivery truck; past towel-covered birdcage; extreme close-up of a sleeping Jimmy Stewart, in our apartment

3.       Quick cut to close-up of thermometer, reading 94 degrees

4.    Cut to closer view of musician’s apartment where the Waxman’s score segues into morning radio announcement; then all the sound comes from within the world of the film

5.       Cut to alarm clock; discover woman sleeping on balcony, too

6.       Pan to the dancer and her little striptease with the dropped bra and ballet stretches

7.       Pan to narrow view of the street with the water truck followed by children; dog tied to rain spout and storefront window cleaner

8.       Pan to disembodied arm removing the cover from a window sill birdcage

9.       Pan to sleeping Jimmy Stewart, track to hip cast, wheelchair reveal

10.    Quick track to zoom in on shattered camera then up to action photograph of race car accident that broke the camera and the leg

11.    Further tracking shots that establish his photojournalism profession

12.    Track past paraphernalia of his profession to framed negative glamour shot that got him the cover of a “Life”-like magazine

Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory through and around these teasers.

 

The first pass of glimpses into the apartments evokes curiosity.  The second pass is a little slower and closer, revealing that there is a woman waking up on the balcony and that the dancer bends over to pick up her dropped bra; that second pass piques my curiosity, but does not arouse any uncomfortable voyeuristic feelings.  The helicopter hovering over the topless sunbathers triggers the first sense of discomfort, actually, irritation.  Jefferies’ cynicism and arrogance foster that irritation.  However, that feeling changes when Jefferies moves me into Miss Lonelyhearts’ world with its non-existent suitor with Bing Crosby’s singing “To See You Is to Love You.” 

 

 

Within twenty minutes, Hitchcock has run me through a gamut of emotions and pulled me into a world within a world.  I am complicit in his voyeuristic universe.

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1. Hitchcock is putting all of us (the audiences) as voyeurs. We are now seeing and exploring the lives of others people as well as the environment, and we are introduced to some characters (the odd couple, the musician, and the ballet dancer) and their different lifestyles. We are now exploring and start to voyeur into the private lives of other people. Hitchcock makes us the voyeur, and it definitely raises the curiosity and intrigues the interest of the audiences. It is definitely an interesting thing for Hitchcock to makes us feel like voyeurs. I think it definitely draws the audiences in to the "cinematic world" in the movie.

 

2. We learn that Jeff is a photographer, a pretty courageous daring photographer. In the scene, Jeff is wearing a cast in his leg.We know that he is a photographer when we saw pictures of racing cars on the wall and then the picture of the car full of flames, then we saw a broken camera. After we see, the broken camera, we see a various amount of photographs and cameras.The broken camera might be related to the car accident, and it could also be uses as a symbolism for the film. It could symbolize the aftermath/ending of voyeurism in this film, because the camera is probably broken after Jeff decides to take the picture of a broken car I assume, which was obviously a dangerous thing to do. Voyeurism draws attention to people when you become more and more curious about it. This curiosity could lead you to destruction and danger. This is what is harming and destroying Jeff's life: his nonstop rising of curiosity that leads him to the amount of excessive and over the line voyeurism, and I think the use of the broken camera describes the results of his crazy, over the line voyeurism pretty well.

 

3. Definitely, and it was well put as well. I think the voyeurism part in the scene is that we are "peeping" and getting a glimpse of the lives of other people in their various apartments without them knowing that we are looking, hiding, and peeping in to their lives. When Jeff is suspicious of a murder, his focus is on the guy who he thought was the murderer. When a case of murder is involved in this film, voyeurism was use to represent and emphasizes our focus on the "murderer" guy. It provides a bigger picture narratively, as well as providing a bigger picture for the murderer.

 

4. I'm not sure if I should say that Rear Window is his most cinematic film as a director, but I've seen some of Hitch's film and I think that this one is  pretty cinematic. In the film, We are looking in such a subjective lenses, through the lenses of Jeff and the camera he use to peep on other people living in other apartments. Hitchcock put us in the seat of the main character in such a genius way. We peek into different rooms, and we see major differences in the characteristics and lives of other characters. As we're peeping into the lives of others, they are not peeping into our life. We are isolated from the world. Nobody is seeing or peeping In Jeff's life, while Jeff (and us the audiences) are seeing and peeping to the lives of other people. I also think that the character of Jeff resembles Hitchcock's attributes and character. Jeff was put in a "director's seat" where he sees everything and seem to control everything in his own mind, but doesn't really have too much control due to his broken leg. I think this is a really cinematic film, and Hitchcock draws us in to a world of voyeurism in such an exquisite way. He draws us in to the world of voyeurism so fast that we became so immerse and focus with the film.

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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 camera shot is an establishing shot that starts by setting the stage and continues on to filling in details about Jeff.

 

We can pick the vantage point - I chose the audience. Once Jeff wakes up we are slaved to his vantage point.  Jeff already knows where he lives. He can afford to sleep through the establishing shot.

 

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 who was injured taking an action shot on the raceway. He has a girl he took a picture of that is first shown to us in negative. I assume this is meant to refer to them being opposites, but it is a bit clunky.

 

He starts by showing us the setting, then showing us Jeff, then showing the broken leg, then showing why the leg was broken, then showing who wrote on the cast and what the nature of their relationship is.

 

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?

Nah. If I was seeing this for the first time, I might feel as if someone were filming a play. It seems stagy like that. Even when you see him in the chair you don't know that this is the only setting in the film, or that it all revolves around him looking out.

 

It seems obvious that the neighbors will be characters. There is an air of archetype to them all that is both forced and non offensive at the same time.

 

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

 

I am not sure what he means by 'most cinematic'. Perhaps it is the distance from the action that Jeff maintains, and the forced POV channeled through him that does this.

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As others note, we are being introduced to our surroundings, our neighbors, our environment and our routines. It's our own personal vantage point that we are seeing. All of the bits and pieces that we take in, as the camera pans, are subliminal, yet overt. We take in just enough to settle us into our proper place while leaving room to want to know and see more. I love the music coming from somewhere within the courtyard....it sounds distant and we hear it's echo.

 

I believe that the opening sequence is meant to cast us in the role of useful and even helpful neighbor. The tone and music are light and energetic..we rise to greet the day together. As we get to know our neighbors we will want to help them....we are invested in their well being. We become voyeurs but we are benevolent. Hitchcock is giving us permission to look by making us one of them.

 

I first saw this movie when it was rereleased in the 1980's and I've seen it many times over, it absolutely is Hitchcock at his very best and most cinematic. The very best movies have a timeless feel....like a perfectly choreographed dance. Each character movement, uttered sentence or camera shot is exactly as it should be and this movie has that.  For me this film reads both like a play and a silent film. Hitchcock fires on all cylinders here and he provides his viewers with multiple points of entry to the story...with sight, sound, feel and even taste......(oh, that snifter of brandy is so delicious!)

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 The opening scene to "Rear Window" shows us the character of Jefferies who is recovering from a broken leg. He is recumbant in his wheelchair, almost looking dead but just asleep. Counterpoint to this static shot of Jefferies is the life around him in the adjacent rear building. Things are in motion, folks going about the start of their day, pigeons, a cat and dog are animated. It is Jefferies that appears lifeless. The note on his cast could be thought of an epitaph. He seems sweaty and uncomfortable but apparently resigned to his fate of being a stilled patient. He is filmed with his back to the mundane day to day activities of the lives of his neighbors. His back to the lack of excitement of everyday existence. 

  We are then shown close ups of notable action photographs on his wall. Also indicators of movement and life yet now resigned to be photographed stills of such. A smashed camera once active is now also stilled. Fashion magazines seen on a tabletop seem out of place amidst these shots of robust action stills. This feminine placement seems out of place with all the masculine photographs of action and drama. It is curious why these magazines are placed here. An unwelcome interjection?

  This opening shot is done with no dialogue and maybe a nod to Mr. Hitchcock's start in silent films since information is given only visually. This may be why this film is considered Mr. Hitchcock's most cinematic since the visuals, set design, character movements, cinematography and costume design will take the story forward and not solely sound or dialogue. 

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The opening scene in Rear Window provides us with all the information necessary to understand the setting and the boundaries in which the story will take place.  It also introduces us to our hero, who has a broken leg and is so hot he is sleeping in his chair.  The heat explains why everybody in the apartment block has the windows open and uncovered; any cooling breezes are more important than privacy.  The pan has shown us Jeff's view out his window, even if he is not looking at it the moment). As the moving camera enters his window, it comes into close focus on Jeff (sweating), his cast, and the  memorabilia of his career as a photographer.  Even without the stack of magazines with one of his photos on the cover, the pictures themselves "tell" us that Jeff is a commercial photographer of large scale events. 

 

 

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1. I would describe the opening camera shot of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” (1954) as a way to introduce the audience to the characters (the songwriter, played by Ross Bagdasarian; the couple, played by Frank Cady and Sara Berner and the person exercising, played by Georgine Darcy (James Stewart’s character of L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries would later describe in the film), along with the cityscape environment that the characters are in (with the sweltering summer heat).   

 

2. From the camera shot, we take a little tour of the apartment of L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries (James Stewart). We can see that he is an accomplished photographer and photojournalist (you can see one broken camera on his desk, while the camera pans and tilts through Jeff’s photographic works).  Some of Jeff’s photographic works include an automobile crash at a speedway, a shot of firefighters containing a large blaze, the testing of an atomic bomb (possibly at the test site in Nevada), a photograph of a model and copies of magazines that featured his cover photographs (possibly in the style of "Life," even though the "Life" name was omitted).

 

3. Not quite sure how to put this, but by looking through the windows of the other characters in Jeff’s neighborhood, it feels like this might be through the mind of a voyeur by looking into what the characters in the neighborhood are doing during the hot heat (from the camera’s point of view).

 

4. In terms of cinematography, art direction, set design, Franz Waxman’s source music orchestration score and the players in the film, “Rear Window” is definitely one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most cinematic films.  He should have won the Academy Award for Best Director (for "Rear Window").

 

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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 pan of the neighborhood introduces us to the characters and setting, first with background music and commentary to accompany each apartment’s resident (e.g. radio announcer attending to the middle-aged man’s insecurities regarding his appearance, the exercise girl’s lightly-flirtatious dance music), juxtaposed against children’s voices to capture the buoyancy of everyday life.

 

The vantage point expressed here is one of omniscient narrator, almost—except that it’s Hitchcock behind the lens and thus we become complicit in watching the watcher.  It’s interesting that Hitchcock sets up the scene this way, for as viewers, we cannot indict Jeff for his voyeurism throughout the film—we too share the guilt of stalking, and we do so from the first moments. 

 

 

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 Jeff is a photographer of both action and fashion shots (why else would he have those fashion magazines?), that he puts himself in harm’s way to capture the perfect picture, that he’s broken his leg—probably as a result of garnering that shot of the crashed race car—that he doesn’t overly concern himself with cleanliness or order, that he lives in the city proper (not too high, not too low a neighborhood), and that he’s suffering in the heat while restricted to his wheelchair.

 

Further, he’s good looking, wearing nice pajamas and is well-groomed, so someone (!) is taking care of our adventurer.

 

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?

 

Interestingly, we seem fine with the roundabout view of the tenement and the picturesque vignettes of everyday life, until the camera moves inside Jeff’s apartment and we view him asleep while we scope out his personal space.  This is the moment we realize we’re stalking . . .

 

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

 

This film is beautiful on many levels, but I would disagree:  Vertigo has my vote for the most richly-textured and cinematic of Hitchcock’s films.

 

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1 & 2)  Hitchcock uses a panning shot to show the venue, if you will.  We see the courtyard and many of the neighbors who may or may not play a role in the film and we learn that the main character is an injured photographer who leads an adventurous and risky life.  From the photos, we see that he probably travels quite a bit.  We also see a negative image of a woman in a picture frame.  Is it a love interest and if so, why the negative and not the actual photo?  The vantage point is of the audience yet once Jefferies wakes up; it will be his vantage point.   

 

3)  At this point, I don't really feel like a voyeur because I'm not seeing anything that is "behind curtains" and I don't feel that the camera is going out of the way to show me something I shouldn't be seeing.  It is daylight and everyone has their curtains open so it all feels relatively normal and innocent (although Miss Torso is a little too comfortable with leaving her curtains open). 

 

4)  I have always been fascinated by the set design of this film.  It is beautiful and so realistically complicated.  The level of detail is truly amazing in that each and every apartment has it's own unique flavor specific to it's tenant(s).  Besides the set design, the direction and musical scores enhance the story so I would have to agree that this is his most cinematic film.  Every time I see it, I see something I missed in a prior viewing.

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I always thought the set of this film was remarkable, but after reading the lecture notes I'm even more impressed. Some of the apartments actually had running water? That's a level of detail I hadn't expected. You can see how the city scape seen through the window in Rope was a successful precursor of the set in Rear Window in terms of visual design, but in Rope that fantastic set is just nice ornamentation. Great to look at but it doesn't really add much to the story being told in the film. The set in Rear Window, however, is the catalyst of the action. It seems to me to be a really inspired feat of design.

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More Windows....Hitch really has become the master of captivating his audience immediately at this point in his career as a director. He is giving the audience all the information needed to place the viewer in the main character seat, physically and emotionally. At this point no one is concerned with the happenings of their neighbors. This is an ordinary morning with ordinary people. Everyone is minding their own. The view is for us. I feel no peeping tom at this point. Everyone is comfortable and has no threat of invasion or the blinds would be closed or expression in the topless blonde would be visible. No one cares what anyone else is doing.

 

Our final view is of Jeff and his apartment and he is the victim of mishap already. The scene depicts his imprisonment and love of capturing moments through photography. He is miserable and looks destitute as if in the desert in need of water. This will play out as he will not be able to overcome his urge to pick up his camera and do a little peeking. Idle hands lead to the devils workshop. Ordinary people going into extraordinary circumstances leaning on their own resources. Pure Hitchcock.....what happens next so excited!!! Oh, and the beautiful blond almost forgot the magazine and negative image portrait. This is odd, does he not see her in the light of the fashion magazine cover?

 

It would be his most cinematic I have seen. Still more movies to watch but the visual storytelling in a set like this is not easily duplicated. No dialog in this scene and I know information about an entire apartment complex of people that's ridiculous.

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The opening camera shot right away conveys the motif of Hitchcock's Rear Window. The film begins with the camera directed from Jeff's apartment, it moves in a continuous and at-a-distance way creating the sensation of voyeurism. The audience is the first ones to invade the space of these neighbors because Jimmy Stewart's character is sleeping through the opening scene. I think beyond being an opening scene intended to inform audiences about the character, Hitchcock might call him his most cinematic because it is always the audience who starts to peep on other's lives. 

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1) &2) The opening camera shot of this movie immediately reveals information about Jeff's neighbors from his rear window. Next, the camera pans over Jeff and his belongings in the room. We see that he is in a hip to toe cast on one leg. We learn that he is a photographer of dangerous events thus the broken camera and injury. Viewers also get a peek at a possible romantic lead in the movie through a negative and magazine covers. Hitchcock cleverly gives us part of the plot and a possible psychological explanation for jJeff's need to observe his neighbors and question their activities. After all, he is photojournalist ( I agree with Spoto here). This information is expressed to us through our vantage point as we observe and establish opinions of what we see. We become the voyeurs in this "realistic little world". We see what Jeff sees and at other times Hitch lets us see things Jeff is missing out on.

 

3)This scene makes me want to know more about his neighbors. It all seems innocent with every day kind of activities. I agree with Hitchcock, i do not want to turn away.I don't need to see what's happening with the newlyweds or the couple on the fire escape, that should remain private.With the rest, yes I am a voyeur.As Bolton notes, "the set has been built for the camera and for the cinema spectator." I like his idea that in "the movie theater, we the viewer are like Jeff; immobile and voyeuristic" Fabulous analogy.

 

4) I have viewed Rear Window over thirty times in my life time.It is the one movie I will recommend as a must. I first watched in the early 60's when it was difficult to find. I was twelve years old and forever fascinated with Hitchcock's presentation. No other movie of his had the same impact for me. None. I don't understand why other movies are considered his best. i won't mention them in this writing.Rear Window has wit, charm, style, pizzazz, suspense, philosophy, sexuality terror and a lot of female power. Thelma Ritter is superb in this movie. Her New York accent and humor are paramount to the plot.To this day, I watch this movie closely to capture all the nuances and happenings in those tiny apartments. i wholeheartedly agree that Rear Window is his most CINEMATATIC movie. Hands down. 

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1. I think the vantage point is ours as the viewers. Hitchcock is pulling back the curtains on a play. It's as if the apartment buildings are the proscenium. But the inside of the apartments themselves are the stages. Even in Jeff's apartment. However, the people who live in those apartments are unaware that they are actors in a reality show and would be appalled to know they were being observed.

 

2. The visual tour of the room shows us a compass, smashed equipment, action photos, a racing car flipping over, an explosion, a fire, even the negative of a cover girl. There are flashbulbs. There are alcohol bottles. It seems that Jeff is a photographer of excitement wherever he can find it. All we need to see is someone's scrapbook to know what is important to him and in this scene we see Jeff's. Words aren't necessary.

 

 

3. My first answer to your question is that I feel like I'm in a theater and I'm being told a story and so I feel no voyeurism or immobility at all. Then, I realize that none of these windows has curtains. You can even see Miss Torso in the shower and then I feel uncomfortable and want to look away but the camera moves on. She shows up again in a titillating bikini top scene and then it's all right again. So, a sense of voyeurism does rise in me.

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Hitchcock drops us immediately into the world of L.B. Jefferies. We're introduced to the central most point of the narrative, that being the stories taking place across the courtyard. Although lacking the intended centricity of the film (Thorwald himself and his apartment), Hitchcock exhibits an extended POV shot from Jefferies’ residence, as this one room will be where we, the audience, embark upon the voyeuristic journey with Jefferies.

 

Hitchcock allows his camera to move in a continuous fashion, and we are given clear details pertaining to Jeff, his occupation, and his current situation. Jeff is bound to a wheelchair due to a broken leg, as he was likely involved in an accident. The camera reveals this information in its transitioning from his leg in a cast, to a smashed camera, to photos aligning a wall exhibiting a wreck on a motor speedway. The continuing shot furthers the narrative displaying Jeff's photojournalistic work of varying subjects within framed photos and magazine covers.

 

Rear Window is blatant voyeurism within its nature. The film is undoubtedly crafted from Jeff’s point of view, as Hitchcock produces those ever famous POV shots a la subjectivity. However, we also are the peeping toms of Jeff's life. We witness the woes of his relationship with Lisa, the verbal sarcastic dances with his nurse, Stella, and all other intimate details pertaining to his life.

 

Regrading evoked feelings, this film does bring out the voyeur in each of us. Rear Window is a self reflective type of picture, as Hitchcock (I believe) purposely intended to create an introspection within us all. Voyeurism​ is never an ideal trait within one's character, as peeping tom spectatorships are undeniably illegal. Admittedly, although Rear Window is a favorite film of mine, I cringe as the camera shows Miss Torso bending over and putting on her bra. This specifically, along with other shots of her, are reminiscent of a stalker/predator’s watchful eye pinpointing an opportunistic time to attack.

 

Rear Window is absolutely Hitchcock’s most cinematic work. The set in and of itself is massive in scale, which is a very telling aspect of the film. The realistic and intricate details of the apartments were crafted specifically for this cinematic effect. Hitchcock is transparent with his pedanticism, especially in the case of Rear Window, as he created a world from one, lone set with the minute details engulfing​ us as an audience as though we are living as L.B. Jefferies himself.

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1. It's our vantage point, as later seen by Jeff of course, so we know what he has and will be seeing. It's also an introduction to Jeff's world for the past few months, letting us know what all he's been living with. Yes, there's a lot to see, but it's only a small area for someone like Jeff, a globetrotting photographer. It helps us to understand how confining it really is, and that we might do the same, if we were in the same situation. It's a visual oxymoron, a large confined space, where your imagination can run wild.

2. Through the furnishings and images in his apartment, we get that he is a photographer, who likes danger and adventure, he's most likely single, but he's also carefree, usually not cooped up in a wheelchair in his apartment, he travels and experiences life on the edge, and to it's fullest. The single photo of the woman (and magazine cover) suggests he likes her, but maybe they're not officially a couple.

3. I've seen this movie several times, I don't know if I don't like the word voyeur, or I just don't feel the negative connotation that usually comes with it. I like to "people watch" myself, wondering about all the stories the people in a public place (like the airport) could tell, where are they from, why are they here, where are they going, who are they, who is meeting them, the list is endless, and it's fun to guess what the answers to some of those questions might be, something I would imagine, seems very appealing to Jeff too.

4. Yes, it's the color palette, there's just something about the colors, combine that with the music, and the setting of a hot tenement building in a big city, and Raymond Burr, he is the quintessential murder!

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Let me begin by saying that Rear Window is one of my favorite Hitchcock films. I'm lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where there is a fully restored 1928 movie theatre that shows classic films as they were first enjoyed - on the big screen (Concessions are the cheapest in town, too!). Having said all that, I've had the thrill of seeing Rear Window in this venue many times, as well as owning my own copies on VHS and DVD and I must say that the opening camera shot never fails to pull me right into L.B. Jeffries' world. Jeff's back is to the window, but this is a shot that establishes his rather claustrophobic environment and "explains" his circumstances, i.e., he's confined to a wheelchair (and as we find out later, sleeps in it sometimes) due to a broken leg that he has acquired from a mishap during one of his assignments as a successful commercial photographer. We are even shown the broken camera to drive the point home. It's hot, as established by the beads of perspiration on Jeff's forehead and face, and by the closeup of the thermometer. These elements set the scene for what's to come, as well as gives us Jeff's backstory. It's Hitchcock giving the audience the information in advance of the later action.

 

I'd say this scene is voyeuristic, and yes, at the very least a case of being an immobile spectator. I had a similar personal experience a few hot summers ago when I was recoving from surgery and couldn't move around much - all during a power outage, no less. Based on that experience, I understand Jeff's compulsion in watching his neighbors. It was real-life entertainment of sorts and as some other posters have stated, I don't think I'd have turned away, either, which I don't like to admit. When Lisa admonishes Jeff for doing this, I feel that she's talking to all of us, including herself.

 

And in answer to the bonus question, I do, indeed, agree that this is Hitchcock's most cinematic. It has all of the qualities that make it stand above the others.

 

 

 

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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 feel the opening shot lays out the canvas for the film, and introduces several of the characters we will be watching with Jeff. The music feels lighthearted and does not suggest the dark nature of where we are heading. I suppose it's not anyone's vantage point, though one could argue it's essentially Hitchcock'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?

 

Obviously establishing the injury and then a dangerous profession indicates he likely got injured on the job. We cut to the magazine covers which are a departure from his active lifestyle, which obviously foreshadows some of his debates with Lisa later. And finally, we learn that it's really hot out and a terrible time to be in a cast.

 

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, simply because we are the observers in this opening - a departure from the early openings where we watched watchers (though we will later). What makes it so voteuristic to me is that we are seeing seemingly harmless, mundane activities - shaving, changing music, waking up, sleeping. Normal everyday morning activity, nothing scandalous or out of the ordinary yet.

 

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

 

I thought about this question awhile, considering what it means to be cinematic. I would say so because it's a stationary set - a man in a wheelchair the entire film. To create suspense, to avoid boredom, Hitchcock - and certainly the editing - must be at best throughout. It is an excellent example of the film medium and what can be done with it. I was discussing with my fiancé how timeless the film is too, in that it draws upon society's building nature of watching - reality TV, social media. Very relevant concepts at work here.

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I think the opening shot is establishing the stories of all these minor characters. We're being introduced to the setting and a little but informative glimpse into their lives. I think the vantage point right now is simply the audience. No one from Jeff's room is watching except us. Plus, as storytellers, it's always important to make sure your audience has been introduced to your characters and their lives enough to feel comfortable in the story and to allow it to continue into the plot. I know when a story jumps into the action of the plot and I don't really know the characters yet, I don't feel like I can get involved in the story. I need to understand at least a little backstory about the main characters and I think Hitchcock does this really well in a simple and brief way.

 

In accord with the above, we learn that Jeff is a photographer and broke his leg from an accident at a racetrack. Telling by his camera, he must have been involved somehow. Then, as the camera pans to the photo of the lady and the magazines, we learn that photography is his living. Plus, he may also have a dry sense of humor (or something!) by having a negative picture of her, that if I may say so, is a tad creepy looking haha!

 

Personally, I don't think watching this opening scene makes me feel like a voyeur or an immobile spectator so much. Watching "Miss Torso" would be the closest to this, since she's being very obvious in front of her window! But it makes me feel more like a snoopy neighbor more than anything--which is probably about the same thing. Whatever you may call it, Hitchcock does know how to make you feel like you are intruding on these people's lives and shouldn't be watching.

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Rear Window is one of Hitchock’s films I never get tired of watching.  They say the eyes are the windows to the soul.   I believe that as well, and I think Hitchcock did too.   There’s so many moments in his films that focus on eyes.  Always in extreme close-up.  That’s not used as much in Rear Window.

I think another commonly used theme in Hitchcock’s films is windows.  Buildings shelter people and their private lives and desires from the outside world.   Windows become a building’s vulnerability; an access point, the same way eyes do for people’s souls.   Think about how many times you’ve seen a Hitchcock film where the camera intrudes on the characters by passing through a window.  So often, we don’t walk in through the front door with Hitchcock, or already in the room with the characters.

With Rear Window, so much is discussed about the voyeuristic themes.  But I have to say: if it weren’t that the weather was so damned hot, I’d be wondering why all those people have their windows wide open?

Just thinking out loud, folks.   Thoughts?

 

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 feel the first few minutes of the minutes of Rear Window are like a survey of the neighborhood.  We’re just getting to know the neighbors, without intruding.  Rear Window is just crammed with tight POV shots making us feel we are the ones looking through the camera lens.   Not here; not yet.   Jeff is facing away from the window so it’s really meant to draw the audience into the scene.  I almost feel like we’re a friend of Jeff’s who’s popped in; looking out the window.  Or maybe I’m considering renting an apartment in the building.   Don’t you always look out the window to see who the neighbors might be before deciding to move in?

I also get the feeling it’s the beginning of a weekday.   Not very busy and perhaps most people have already gone to work.   I’m sure Miss. Torso works nights!

 

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?

I think way before we ever hear a word from Jeff, we get the feeling he is bored and frustrated.  As the camera surveys his apartment, we know that he is a world traveler who does not mind getting into some dangerous situations.  We also learn that he may perhaps have a reckless nature which results in a bashed-up camera and a cast on his leg.  He’s a man of action; a man of the world cooped up in a sweaty summer apartment.

His reputation also takes him to fashion photography in (or about) Paris.  This is probably his closest connection to Lisa or perhaps how they met.

 

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 do not feel like a voyeur yet.  Perhaps the exception is watching Miss. Torso brush her hair.  There is nothing going on here that any average urban dweller doesn’t do every day by simply looking out the window.   And even if someone caught you looking, you’re more likely to wave back!

Without getting directly to the issue of Thornwald just yet, the voyeuristic aspect doesn’t really come into play until we begin to see our neighbors’ frustration, sadness, loneliness, or maybe even their joy.  For the first few minutes, I just feel like one of the neighbors.

 

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

I think using the word ‘most’ when it comes to just about anything, gets you into trouble when making any claims.   But when you really think of it, aside from the color and the elaborate set, this film really is built on well-defined use of camera technique, and editing.  Of course, there’s a great screenplay and capable acting.   But the film is so well-done, we are never wanting for changes of scenery, crashing waves against a cliff, or a speeding car.  It’s all done within the courtyard of one city block.  That said, I think you can make the argument that it is one of Hitchcock’s most cinematic films – or in other words ‘pure cinema’.

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