Rear Window  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Rear Window (1954) is a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on Cornell Woolrich's short story "It Had to Be Murder" (1942). The film combines its main theme of a murder mystery with a critical examination of the ethics of marriage and voyeurism.


Hitchcock's fans and film scholars have taken particular interest in the way the relationship between Mr. Jeffries and Lisa can be compared to the lives of the neighbors they are spying upon. The film invites speculation as to which of these paths Mr. Jeffries and Lisa will follow. Many of these points are considered in Tania Modleski's feminist film theory book, The Women Who Knew Too Much:

  • Thorwald and his wife are a reversal of Mr. Jeffries and Lisa (Thorwald looks after his invalid wife just as Lisa looks after the invalid Mr. Jeffries). However, Thorwald's hatred of his nagging wife mirrors Mr. Jeffries's arguments with Lisa.
  • The newly wed couple initially seem perfect for each other (they spend nearly the entire movie in their bedroom with the blinds drawn), but at the end we see that their marriage to become more realistic as the wife begins to nag the husband. Similarly, Mr. Jeffries is afraid of being 'tied down' by marriage to Lisa.
  • The middle-aged couple with the dog seem content living at home. They have the kind of uneventful lifestyle that horrifies Mr. Jeffries.
  • The music composer and Miss Lonelyhearts, the depressed spinster, lead frustrating lives, and at the end of the movie find comfort in each other (the composer's new tune draws Miss Lonelyhearts away from suicide, and the composer thus finds value in his work). There is a subtle hint in this tale that Lisa and Mr. Jeffries are meant for each other, despite his stubbornness. The piece the composer creates is called "Lisa's Theme" in the credits.

The characters themselves verbally point out a similarity between Lisa and Miss Torso (played by Georgine Darcy) — the scantily-clad ballet dancer who has all-male parties.

Other analysis centers on the relationship between Mr. Jeffries and the other side of the apartment block, seeing it as a symbolic relationship between spectator and screen. Film theorist Mary Ann Doane has made the argument that Mr. Jeffries, representing the audience, becomes obsessed with the screen, where a collection of storylines are played out. This line of analysis has often followed a feminist approach to interpreting the film. It is Doane who, using Freudian analysis to claim women spectators of a film become "masculinized," pays close attention to Mr. Jeffries's rather passive attitude to romance with the elegant Lisa, that is, until she crosses over from the spectator side to the screen, seeking out the wedding ring of Thorwald's murdered wife. It is only then that Mr. Jeffries shows real passion for Lisa. In the climax, when he is pushed through the window (the screen), he has been forced to become part of the show.

Other issues such as voyeurism and feminism are analyzed in John Belton's book Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window.

Furthermore, released in 1954 at the very height of McCarthyism, this film was apparently cashing in on widespread fears of nuclear war, fascism, and threats from totalitarian communism and brought them into America's back yard.Template:Fact No longer could the government be depended upon to discover, let alone solve, major crimes. Instead, the film emphasized the necessity of a "deputized" citizenry to keep tabs on their neighbors and bring the undesirables to justice.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Rear Window" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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