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Rear Window: Watching as Dangerous Activity - Essay Example

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Rear Window: Watching as Dangerous Activity:
The 1954 film Rear Window is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thrillers that have retained their popularity over the years. …
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Rear Window: Watching as Dangerous Activity
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"Rear Window: Watching as Dangerous Activity"

Download file to see previous pages This paper will focus in particular on the theme of ‘watching’ and explore how Hitchcock makes his point on this effectively through his use of the ‘language’ of film – namely structural elements like mise-en-scene, music, cinematography and so on. The plot revolves around L. B. Jeffries, a photographer, who has his leg in a cast and is therefore, temporarily wheelchair-bound. Jeffries takes to spying on his neighbors to entertain himself at first, and increasingly gets more and more involved in what he suspects is a murder plot. The sub-plots in the film include Lisa Fremont, Jeffries’s beautiful and sophisticated girlfriend whose ideas of marrying him he insistently rejects; and Stella, his insurance company nurse who offers Jeff a lot of commonsense advice and later helps him and Lisa in investigating the mysterious occurrences in the Thorwald household. One of the many neighbors that Jeffries spies on is a salesman called Lars Thorwald whose nagging wife is an invalid. Jeffries observes them quarrel often till on one rainy night, he sees Thorwald leave his house a few times and in the morning, finds Mrs. Thorwald gone. Seeing him pack her things up and send them away, and on another occasion, wrapping up a set of knives, Jeffries assumes that Thorwald has killed his wife and calls his friend in the police, Lieutenant Doyle to tell him of his suspicions. Doyle does not take the story too seriously but promises to look into it nonetheless. He finds that Thorwald and his wife left for the station on the day she went ‘missing’ and Mrs. Thorwald got on a train to the countryside from where she sends a postcard to her husband to let him know she has arrived safely. Jeffries finds it hard to believe that there is such a simple explanation for the events. At this point, Lisa, who has been trying to prove to Jeffries that she is not merely a socialite, agrees with Jeffries that something is wrong as they find that Mrs. Thorwald has left her jewelry behind which, according to Lisa, no woman ever does. Using Lisa and Stella for the mobility that he himself lacks, Jeffries digs deeper into the case till, after a very frenetic sequence when Thorwald catches wind of Jeffries’s interference and tries to kill him, the three are finally able to get Thorwald caught red-handed. The story is a classic thriller but Hitchcock uses it as a backdrop to highlight several other issues, most notably the issue of ‘watching’ itself. For instance, at the beginning, the audience is warned repeatedly by Stella about the dangers of becoming a society of ‘peeping Toms’. She tells Jeffries about how in medieval days ‘they used to put your eyes out with a red-hot poker’ for spying. Stella also insists that she can ‘smell’ trouble and that Jeffries’s habit of watching his neighbors will surely cause some mishap. Her admonition of Jeffries works in a meta-filmic (i.e. beyond the film’s world and addressing the audience directly) way on the audience as well. The viewer to is watching something without being detected, acting essentially as a voyeur. This theme of watching unobserved and what Freud would call ‘scopophilia’ – which literally translates to mean ‘love of watching’ (‘Scopophilia’) – is established in the film on a structural level right from the start. The opening scene frames the same window, out of which Jeffries will be making all his observations, with the blinds slowly being ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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