One of the greatest filmmakers of all time was Alfred Hitchcock. Born in Leytonstone Essex England, he directed over fifty films and created most of the suspenseful and psychological aspects we see in the thriller and horror genre today. He became known as the master of suspense due to pioneering these aspects. Although his movies included many psychological or suspenseful elements, they also contained an artistic beauty that could not be matched during his era.
The Art Of Spying
His film Rear window is stunning, splendid, magnificent, gorgeous or any other words that are synonyms of beauty. This work of art tells the story of injured photographer L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart) who observes his neighbors on a daily basis for entertainment from his living room window. One evening he hears a terrifying scream and becomes convinced that his neighbor Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), murdered his wife in their apartment. From this point to the climax of the film, Jefferies attempts to convince his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly), his caretaker Stella (Thelma Ritter), and Detective Doyle (Wendell Corey) that a crime has taken place.
While Jefferies observes his neighbors each apartment window acts like an individual movie screen that displays different types of films. The windows evoke different emotions from Jefferies as he watches them. Cramming so many different emotions and actions on-screen at the same time allows the audience to find their favorites while watching the film. Some members of the audience may take an interest in the honeymooning couple, while others may take a liking to the song writer. These different windows allows the audience and Jefferies to take a break from the main action, also it brings a great artisitc element to the film.
Whats in View?
The use of lights and shadows are dominant artistic elements in this film that can not be ignored. In the climax, Thorwald enters Jefferies’ apartment to silence him. As he approaches Jefferies, Thorwald’s face is engulfed in a shadow that gives him a menacing appearance. In the pervious scenes Thorwald received full lighting, at these moments it is unclear if he commented a crime or not. Once Thorwald enters Jefferies’ apartment, without any dialogue it is clear that he is guilty of a crime due to the lighting. His face in shadow also allows the audience to fully understand the danger that Jefferies is in. In a prior scene while Jefferies and Stella spy on Thorwald they move into the shadows to remain undetected. Hitchcock uses shadows on Thorwald’s face to show evil intensions, but he also uses the shadows to provide protection for his characters.
Effects and Views
Hitchcock’s use of camera angles and special effects presents more artistic value to the film. On different occasions Jefferies uses his camera to get a closer view of Thorwald in his apartment. Hitchcock presents his audience with the view from Jefferies’ camera by showing Thorwald in an effect that resembles the lens of a camera. The audience becomes more than just a spectator of someone spying on another, this effect allows them to feel like they are also spying on Thorwald.
As Jefferies sits in his wheel chair and hears Thorwald walking up the steps, Hitchcock positions the camera above Jefferies, looking down at him. This Angle brings a sense of helplessness and fear to the scene.
The way in which Hitchcock uses sound is an excellent artistic element. Every single piece of music that is heard by the audience comes from inside the cinematic space. The film also features extended periods without any music. The elimination of post production musical scores gives the film a realistic feel. Hitchcock does not depend on music to set the tone of his film.
For anyone who has not seen this film, be sure to catch a screening and allow the master of suspense to bewitch you with his art.