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Film Review: Rear Window

rear window

Rear Window is one of the most enjoyable Hitchcock films I’ve seen, which is saying a lot. The combination of humor and suspense is exactly what I personally like in films, as I find the contrast between them strengthens both.

Hitchcock’s filming technique remains in the realm of realism, or at least a very realism-like style of classical. The camera sees every scene outside of our hero Jeff’s titular window just as he would see it: from above or below the height of his three-story window, never when Jeff is asleep, and to a closer degree whenever Jeff uses his binoculars or camera lens to zoom in on the action. Even the iris technique is naturally used, as the film first shows us the scene through the pair of binoculars.

By consistently using this viewpoint, Hitchcock keeps his audience wrapped up in Jeff’s obsession with a possible murder. They see everything through his eyes, and therefore can’t keep from interpreting events along with him. Keeping the audience in suspense is the unsurprising point of a suspense film, and Hitchcock’s method of filming naturally pushes the audience to do so. Despite my movie-magic-inundated mind, Rear Window was still able to literally keep me on the edge of my seat right along with Jeff as he watched a climactic scene unfold in front of his own camera lens.

A potential downside to the realism technique is that the audience may get claustrophobic. Even Jeff’s end battle takes place in his room, and the entire film never leaves a single apartment block. However, the film still has plenty of scenes with entertainingly funny banter between Jeff, his nurse, his girlfriend, and his pal on the police force. Silent side plots contained within other windows of the apartments that Jeff spies on also provide relief from the main plotline and add another layer of interesting content that keeps the film enjoyable for multiple viewings.

Overall, the film’s a classic. Definitely worth owning.

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