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Hitchcock’s Hide and Seek in Rear Window
Nowadays, Alfred Hitchcock is avowed as a genius director by the general public as well as by film critics to a such extent that his carnality becomes more and more veiled by mystery and fairy tales.
The naturalized term “Hitchcockian” as pointed out by Boyd and Palmer is widely spread among film critics and film lovers. This term might be a sufficient example of a fashionable detachment of Hitchcock’s flesh from Hitchcock’s concepts. High honor is given to Hitchcock himself, but on the other hand, it is slightly troubling for critics and film academicians. (as if Hitchcockian was the monster Kronos who ate all of his own children, in an effort not to be overthrown, but the problem lies in the fact that we are more interested in his children).
Moreover, there are couple of other obstacles which keep us from approaching Hitchcock’s films more closely; In the first place, as Robin Wood claims, Hitchcock is not perceived as “a serious director” by many film academicians or critics since he was a part of Hollywood movie production whose commercials intentions were blatant. Hence, Hitchcock is suspected of “ being influenced by commercial interests and compromising his vision to accord to the mob’s taste .”|ustupky komercniho ohledu a na zasadni kompromisy s pokleslym lidovym vkusem |. (Wood 9)
What is more, Hitchcock himself offered many murky comments or an absolute silence concerning his movies. William Rothman in “The Murderous Gaze” seems to be irritated by John Russell Taylor’s conclusion in an authorized biography of Alfred Hitchcock which claims that: “It seems unlikely that Hitchcock, even in the secret places of his heart, regarded himself as anything other than a practical movie-maker.” William Rothman, an eager admirer of Hitchcock believes that “Hitchcock’s silences mocked those who took for granted that they knew him when they had not penetrated his most elementary secrets, not escaped his simplest traps, not even recognized his disdain or his anguish. “ ( Rothman 346 )
Finally, we are getting closer to the reason why we sketched a few obstacles which problematize ‘ a smooth hooking on’ to Hitchcock’s films. The intention of this paper is to narrow down two interpretations of Rear Window and consequently to unwrap my own interpretation. The number of analyses and interpretations revolving around Hitchcock’s oeuvre is plentiful, however just a few of them withstand to abovementioned traps.
Before starting with the interpretations themselves, we will summarize the plot of Rear Window to refresh reader’s mind.
James Stewart as Jeff in a role of a photojournalist who is imprisoned in a cast and hence is trapped to stay in his apartment for a while. The film starts within his last week in the cast in stifling weather. Almost everybody in his Greenwich Village neighborhood has rolled up their blinds to ventilate their apartments. However, along with wind, Jeff’s gaze enters their apartments, in his attempt fend against boredom. Even the common sense of his nurse Stella ( Thelma Ritter) does not repel him from looking at his neighbors, especially those who directly oppose his rear window. What is more, even the presence of beautiful Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) who is visibly interested in him, has no power to change the direction of his look.
The first step towards change came in the moment when Jeff creates a story of murder based on his gaze’s evidence. Jeff claims that Lars Thorwald ( Raymond Burr) has killed and dismembered his invalid wife. Jeff’s persuasion is made up from following images:
The image of nagging wife, Thorwald’s repeated night trips with a suit, and finally the image of Thorwald washing a saw and a knife and wrapping them into newspaper.
Successively, Stella and Lisa join his speculation and begin to approve of Jeff’s voyeurism under the guise of investigation. However, a friend of Jeff is a detective Doyle (Wendell Corey) questions the justness of their voyeurism by means of doubting their evidence. Right at the moment they were about to give up their ‘immoral’ voyeurism, a dog ‘” who knew too much” reaffirms their belief that Thorwald did in fact kill his invalid wife.
As of this moment, events get sped up since along with looking, Jeff, Lisa and Stella start to provoke Thorwald in an effort to squeeze a confession from him; thanks to the provocation, the story becomes more dynamic and tense. Spaces are crossed and gazes become inverted; Lisa breaks into Thorwald’s apartment and in turn Thorwald reveals the subject of the gaze. The story finishes when Jeff is deprived of his voyeurism whereas Thorwald is deprived of his ‘dirty little secrets”. Ou Lisa..
The first text, which we will briefly look at is written by Robert Wood. The advantage of his interpretation lies simply in the fact that Wood is among the first interpreters of Rear Window and wrote in a time when Hitchcock did not have a such cult following. On the other hand, this essay was written after seeing Rear Window just once, since as he writes “in the United States, there is just one official copy for public and at the same time for private projections .” |.je v USA k dispozici pouze jedina kopie filmu, a to pro verejne I soukromne projekce |. (Wood 49)
Wood begins by considering Rear Window as a film which deals with “therapeutic experience”. Not only for the main character (Jeff), but also for the spectator who is most likely to identify with Jeff due to the prevalence of Jeff’s point of view in the film. According to Wood, the ‘therapeutic experience’ is undergone by Jeff since he is the one who is struggling in the relationship with Lisa. The buildings which oppose Jeff’s rear window stands for a surface or a screen which reflects Jeff’s subconscious dreams and desires ( for the audience, since Jeff does not consciously realizes any linkage between him and neighbors from opposing building). But this is only the initial phase of Jeff’s therapy. In the course of the film, Jeff’s therapy involves looking, and the final resolution comes with Thorwald’s violence towards Jeff, which involves pushing Jeff’s out of his rear window.
By and large, the question of a voyeurism plays a key role in the majority of texts written about Rear Window. Wood does not make a big fuss about the immorality of voyeurism. In the case of Rear Window, the voyeurism is justified by means of disclosing Thorwald as a murderer, besides the fact that saves Miss Lonely Heart from committing suicide. The last point is rather polemic since Miss Lonely Heart was kept from suicide thanks to becoming absorbed by the neighbor’s completed song.
The essential function of Jeff’s voyeurism is to display Jeff’s desires. Through the direction of his gaze, the audience can slowly uncovers his desires reside, and what is more, through Jeff’s voyeurism, the spectator can see what Jeff is escaping from. Jeff’s voyeurism is his weapon, a way for him to face to himself, all alone. Through his gaze, he holds alleged power over the people he gazed at.
- Quote paper
- Dasa Kollarova (Author), 2011, Hitchcock’s Hide and Seek in Rear Window, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/230189