“Rear Window” is a 1954 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr. This mystery thriller is much more masterful than it seems, because Hitchcock manages – through the mastery of the subjective camera – to have us experience unfolding events through the eyes of the main character, Jeff. We are all Jeff.
Jeff, portrayed by James Stewart, an adventurous press photographer who travels the globe, is found bound to a wheelchair while recovering from a leg injury and is stuck in his New York City apartment which overlooks the building’s courtyard. As his boredom grows, he does not hesitate to use his camera and telephoto lens to observe his neighbours.
He is regularly visited by his girlfriend Lisa Fremont, played by Grace Kelly. Jeff is reluctant to the idea of “settling down” as the couple’s lifestyles differ so vastly. He is adventurous and Lisa is the perfect socialite whose life revolves around the social events in town. As the summer heat wave makes an appearance, the neighbours begin to open their windows, exposing their lives and movements. Jeff, who has no interest in marriage, somehow finds himself watching the scenes of domestic shipwreck.
Suspecting the man from a neighbouring building may have murdered his wife, Jeff and Lisa, who was initially certain that this claim was just a figment of Jeff’s overactive imagination due to boredom, decide to investigate. But are they the object of their idleness or has a crime actually taken place?
James Stewart and Grace Kelly are an irresistible couple – he is gruff and stubborn, she is elusive and urban. Lisa’s every appearance into this little bachelor pad brings with it an air of the city – which Jeff doesn’t necessarily want to smell – but is nonetheless breathtakingly sophisticated and seductive. Raymond Burr, who incarnates the neighbour of all attentions, is terrifying. His face exudes frustration and indeed allows us to believe in the worst. The closed-door environment is perfectly stifling.
Beyond the intrigue of crime and romance, “The Rear Window” also speaks of voyeurism. Through a mirror effect, we are just as much voyeurs as Jeff, since he fully embodies our gaze and our feelings throughout the film.
I wonder what film Hitchcock would have made along the same theme, in this age of social media where many people stage their lives. No longer a need for a telephoto lens.
November 13, 2020
Dolce & Gabbana dress – Vintage heels