Realism In "Rear Window" Essay

2740 words - 11 pages

One of the most crucial elements of Rear Window, and a very clever tactic used by Hitchcock, is realism. In other words, most if not all things that happen in this film, and everything that every character feels and emotes, is entirely plausible in real life - perhaps not witnessing a murder, but something equally shocking, such as spousal abuse is entirely possible. Because of this there is at least one thing or person that everybody can identify with, either with Jeff, Lisa, the neighbours, or any of the events that take place over the course of the film (i.e. a date gone bad, a pet run over, love, heartbreak, etc.). However, the audience identifies most with Jefferies, played by Jimmy Stewart. This was achieved through a wealth of POV and reaction shots. The audience is with Jefferies for the entire film; he persuades us to think what he thinks, and allowing us to see what he sees brings us that much closer to his world; we are enveloped by him. By allowing us to see what Jeff sees and to see how he reacts with what he is seeing, the audience gets a clear understanding of how he feels, and we are led to feel the same way. The theme of voyeurism plays one of the biggest parts in the film, and is the key to having an audience identify with what they see in this film. Because of this voyeurism, we are not only privy to Jefferies' life, but also the lives of his neighbours. Each of these neighbours has yet another life that we pry into using Jefferies' as our instrument, and each fit into a separate group of people with which any corresponding member of the audience can relate to (i.e. the young girls can identify with Miss Torso, the single middle-aged women with Miss Lonelyhearts, etc.). Rear Window is a film with a plethora of characters with which the audience can identify with, connecting with either their personalities or their experiences; we 'play the part' of all of the main characters, and practically every one of the neighbours in the complex, through the ingenious voyeurism throughout the film.The voyeurism is apparent even in the first few minutes of the film. As it is revealed, Jefferies is a photographer for a magazine. A photographer is the essence of a voyeur, as in the course of the job it is routine to peer into the life of something, whether it is a plant, an animal, or a person. However, since Jefferies' boss refuses to let him go back to work, he applies his work to his home-life, using his binoculars and camera to look in on the lives of his neighbours. It appears harmless at first, but soon devolves into a primal urge to see exactly what is going on in these people's houses. Thus is the basis for the film, and how we are kept by Jefferies' side the whole time. "One of the major, irresolvable issues that Hitchcock dramatizes in the film is the audience's innate voyeurism. We are implicated in Jeff's voyeurism because we, too, cannot refrain from spying on his neighbours; that is, we cannot distinguish whether we are watching...

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