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Rear Window, by Alfred Hitchcock, is a suspenseful film intended to show insight on the act of voyeurism, as well as connect its cinematic audience with the main character. Within this film there are several distinctive scenes, along with different types of framework, that allow the audience to seemingly step into the set themselves. While solidifying his own opinion on voyeurism, Alfred Hitchcock cultivates a connection between the audience and Jeff through human’s natural curiosity. The connectivity of this film to its audience is glued together by the way its director chose to use the camera.
His intentions were to make the audience feel like they were witnessing the suspenseful timeline by projecting them into the main character’s shoes. In Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock uses camera techniques, like long and mid length shots to express Jeff as the audience’s surrogate.
Alfred Hitchcock is a director who has a fascination with voyeurism, or what some may call peeping toms.
In Jeff Saporito’s article it states that “Hitchcock praises the curious nature of human voyeurism,” and furthermore “It’s a running theme in many of his film’s” (Jeff Saporito 2015). This expresses the theme to be of importance not only to the timeline but to the filming and viewing as well. In Rear Window, Hitchcock displays voyeurism in a way that something good comes from it. In the resolution of the film even though Jeff had been recreationally invading people’s privacy through his rear window, he had still uncovered a murder and it’s evidence by observing his neighbors.
As mentioned in Fawells Book “Hitchcock, most critics agree, meant Jeff to be seen as a stand in for the film-goer” (Fawell 2004). The director purposely manipulated the camera angles to make the audience witness the action through Jeff’s point of view.
There are numerous ways that Jeff can be considered the surrogate for the filmgoers. Not only are the cameras distinctly catching Jeff’s point of view, but “Jeff is a mirror image of the viewers who watch him in the process of watching others” (Miller, 2018). The audience often will feel just as involved with what is going on through the camera lens as he does. The camera provides a sense of irony among the audience, because although most know that it is wrong to snoop in people’s windows and watch them without their knowledge, there is still that curiosity that Hitchcock wants to unfold. The way the camera films most of the scenes only allows the audience to see so much, this provides the audience to assume just as much as Jeff will. The apartments seem really closed from our prospective, with the different distances provided in the framework shots there are details and stories provided about each neighbor in focus. Adding on, “This composition accentuates the privacy of the apartment space and makes the audience conscious that it is violating that person’s privacy” (‘The Art of Cinema: Extras’ 2018). For instance, we learn that Ms. Lonely Heart has dinners with imaginary guys and Ms. Torso has several guys over almost every night.
As the camera pans from room to room we as viewers get insight on each neighbor, especially Mr. Thorwald. Hitchcock uses a variety of long and mid length shots to express what Jeff sees from his apartment window. “The camera movements mimic those of a real person slowly panning over a scene to understand what’s going on” (Renée 2017). The distance, technique, and framing used in this movie allows the audience to not only see but feel what Jeff does. For example, when Lisa goes into Mr. Thorwald’s apartment and gets caught the audience gets a sense of hopelessness and anxiety, because just like Jeff there is nothing we can do to help from across the courtyard/screen. Throughout the film we view things primarily from Jeff’s point of view, it could even be analyzed as the audience partaking into the action within the film. “By simply using POV shots, clever editing, and camera work the director transformed his audience from mere spectators into active participants of voyeuristic exploits of Rear Window’s main character” (Renée 2017). Initially meaning that the media provided in this film allowed us to be curious, pry into strangers’ life’s and solve a mystery just like Jeff had done.
In conclusion, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window expresses its main character, Jeff, as the audiences surrogate through camera techniques, such as long and mid length frames. The way the camera is used in this film also solidifies Hitchcock’s opinion and fascination on voyeurism and how it can be caused by natural human curiosity. The viewers of Rear Window are able to put themselves into the movie through Jeff’s eyes. We see whatever he sees. In addition, with the camera angles, a sense of suspense arises whenever something gets uncovered or action begins within a scene. Alfred Hitchcock intentionally filmed in this manor, so Jeff’s focus was our focus. The majority of the scenes were shot at the angle according to the way Jeff would have gazed upon the action. Jeff is metaphorically the audience; he is unable to do anything other than observe what is happening around him and speak his mind on what is seen or heard.
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