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Themes and Structures in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1730 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Rear Window Hitchcock

There are a vast number of angles to appreciate Rear window on, and one of them is the impeccable use of sounds and well as the score courtesy of lead characters. Although the film can easily be considered as a whole with its diegetic soundtrack, it’s really an intricate weaving of sounds collectively played against visual images.  For instance, against credits, as the blinds come up, cool jazzy beats of radio and prelude are heard giving a perfect juxtaposition. The film is in itself full of symbolism, narratives, characterization, and voyeurism. This portrays the movie as a strong auteur since similar themes and motifs that were previously recognized. The film also employs character motifs such as heavy use of vertical lines, character parallels, and a strong protagonist. Jefferies, the main protagonist, is mostly focused upon as a photographer who recently broke his leg and is restricted to a wheelchair (Fawell, 2004, p72). In the film`s opening scenes, credits are shown, and most are given away with regards to the upcoming storyline creating a symbolic interpretation of the forthcoming film`s events. This also creates an opportunity to which the film`s thoughts and tones are set. The film`s narration also creates a great ambiance more so as a bamboo curtain is raised and the courtyard to which the film revolves. 

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The film also offers all types of songs both popular and otherwise which can be picked out of a story organically. The obvious sound additions are “That’s Amore” and “Mona Lisa,” which can be heard being sung by groups of part guests during the film (Hitchcock, 2001, p64). Lisa receives her own theme song which is concurrently composed by a composer who lives in the courtyard that comes to be known over the course of the film. The composition evolves from the nascent stages into a fully-fledged tune that gains its popularity when the romance between the protagonist Jeffries and Lisa comes to become a reality.

The film is set on a first person`s point of view, offering traditional chronological narration without flashbacks or forwards. It seems more conventional in its composition as there are no postmodern aspects of moving along times and space (Belton, 1988, p32). In terms of technology, the film is quite bending and leaves the intrigues associated with technology. Hitchcock doesn’t quite use things like voice-over and constant POV shots to get the viewers into the thoughts of the protagonist. The audience is instead placed in proximity to Jeff in order to view what he is viewing and how he gets stuck in most situations. This increases the audience`s involvement in the film, although they remain stuck in an apartment just like Jeff. The film`s genre comes to the rescue of certain shortfalls in narration as it involves both mystery, thriller, romance and comedy. The murders and mischief within the film draw it closer to a mystery film rather than a thriller.

Beyond the Film`s elements of soundtrack, Rear windows develops into an immersive world of cinema. It immerses the viewers into an environment that extends no choice to the viewer but to become involved. The viewers can be termed as accomplices in the viewing of Jimmy Stewart`s party (Spoto, 1992, p73). The film is a true exhibition of a moving image because the film works well with the party. It begins with the complex setup and the staging of Hitchcock that had to work with both color cinematography and paramount studios to give better lighting of the stages, which sets the scenes for the film.

Jeff spends most of his time watching his neighbors through a pair of binoculars. In this sense, the audience is shown life through Jefferies`s eyes within the time he is restrained in a wheelchair. The window that looks out of the courtyard displays a number of other different windows. This is, to some extent a representative of the various ways to which living in America was in the mid-twentieth century. Through the film, the audiences are shown various characters representative of the windows depicted in the film. The windows acting as a representation of these characters portray the various living styles and scraps according to Jeff`s view. The film has three main protagonists who are Jefferies`s girlfriend Lisa, Jefferies, and Stella who is Jefferies`s nurse (Fawell, 2004, p248). The relationship between these characters varies due to the changes in the happenings that unfold in front of Jefferies. The test of this relationship is witnessed when one of Jeff`s neighbors commits serious murder of his wife. At this point, Lisa is portrayed as a perfect woman as she is an elegant, beautiful, and successful businesswoman. She is a representation of perfection and the common struggles to which most individuals fight to attain.

The visual structure of the film is a more parallel one, as most characters are depicted as going about their daily lives. Normal life actions such as shaving, waking in the morning, and answering of phone calls are depicted to instill normalcy and simplicity to the film. These behaviors are associated with normal everyday activities and represent the fact that each window represents various variations in approach to these approaches to life. Some of the most important life characters are represented by the lonely dancer, the happy newly wedded couple and Thorwald who is a murderer (Modleski, 2015, p87). These entire different characters through their different windows and their stories flow together seamlessly. Music is then used to relate and precede each scene and give a preview of what is expected in the next scenes.

The film is associated with confined thrills as the film unfolds with a systematic unraveling and is orchestrated in a limited space.  “Rear windows” has handicapped its protagonist, and the outsiders makes the viewer to second guess or create assumptions (Hitchcock, 2001 p104). Each of the characters around Jeff is at one point in opposition to the protagonist making the film quite interesting. Despite their one time opposition to Jeff, they provide a surrounding board for Jeff` harebrained theories which bear the signs of truth.

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The sexual interest and the practice of spying on people engaging in intimate behaviors is one of the most underlying issues within the film. The film is about a spectacle that explores the fascination with looking and the attraction of that which is being looked at (Albrechtslund, 2008, p236). The film recognized the darkest side of voyeurism and promotes the desire to have awful things to happen to people both within the film and those in normal life.  However, it creates awareness on the importance of feeling better of oneself and the need to relieve oneself from the burden of examining our own lives. The master of terror challenges the audience by forcing them to peer through the film`s rear window and become exposed to the various extremes and goods of life.

The theme of love depicted within the film underlines romance and the many facets associated with it. Each character and couples portray certain premonitions of what romantic love looks like. The love stories are playing in each apartment complex being viewed by the Jeffries. Miss Torso, for example, acts as a queen bee with the pick of the drones. As her love comes back from the army, the audience is shown how there is much more to her than the candy frames earlier portrayed of her (Albrechtslund, 2008, p239). Miss Lonelyhearts, on the other hand, is seen desperately seeking affection and yet has enough respect not to stop below her dignity. Despite her situation, she is uplifted by music out of her despair. Stella also offers her homespun philosophy that individuals should not overstate or overreact to their situations in love. Jeffries is seen opposing any serious romance because in his thoughts, Lisa is far too perfect for him. Lisa is then left thinking that she can live in any world to which Jeff is in. However, the threads must be intertwined with the murder witnessed in the film since it calls for a response from the film’s characters. Lisa had to sacrifice so much to show her love and devotion, which make Jeffries to show him his love and devotion (Modleski, 2015, p91). This is not only entertaining to see but also offers a life lesson for those seeking for love or those struggling in relationships.

Despite the films unfolding dramas and the anonymity promoted in certain quotas, the film revolves around reaching out to others, making it a more interesting set to watch. Reaching to others, in this case, entails being vulnerable, candid, and transparent so as to make others feel comfortable entering into your life. The underlying lesson is that individuals need to go on the outside and look for a change in order to mitigate empathy in case of vulnerability. Going on the outside, in this case, reduces the chances of evil such as murders such as those witnessed within the film.  Though the film`s setting is based on normal daily life encounters, the lack of modern touch excludes the interests of most modern viewers. On the contrary, it promotes traditional values and virtues expected of a morally considerate society.


  • Albrechtslund, A., 2008. Surveillance and ethics in film: Rear window and the conversation. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 15(2), pp.129-144.
  • Belton, J., 1988. The space of rear window. MLN, 103(5), pp.1121-1138.
  • Fawell, J., 2004. Hitchcock’s Rear Window: the well-made film. SIU Press.
  • Hitchcock, A., Hayes, J.M., Stewart, J., Ritter, T., Corey, W., Waxman, F. and Woolrich, C., 2001. Rear window.
  • Modleski, T., 2015. The women who knew too much: Hitchcock and feminist theory. Routledge.
  • Spoto, D., 1992. The art of Alfred Hitchcock: Fifty years of his motion pictures. Anchor Books.


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