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Alfred Hitchcocks Rear Home window Film Studies Essay

Rear Window is a 1954 suspense thriller aimed by Alfred Hitchcock, written by John Michael Hayes and based on the 1942 brief story "It Had to Be Murder" by Cornell Woolrich. Starring James Stewart and Co-Starring Elegance Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr.

J. B Jefferies (Adam Stewart), a journal photographer, is limited to his apartment in a wheelchair with a cracked leg, during a New York temperature wave. From his window, he can easily see into the neighbouring rentals and soon becomes obsessed with viewing the private dramas that play out across the courtyard. He becomes suspicious of a salesman (Thorvald) as he suspects he has murdered his 'nagging' better half. Slowly but surely, Jefferies becomes increasingly more obsessed and frantic over the problem, using binoculars and a telephoto lens on his camera to get a closer look. It is not long before Jefferies partner Lisa (Grace Kelly) also becomes interested and begins to investigate the suspicious string of incidents.

The opening world shows three glass windows inside the apartment of L. B Jefferies as the blinds slowly start to roll-up one by one. Straight away, a feeling of anticipation as to what it is to see and the placement of the viewer inside the apartment to view the courtyard and the unsuspecting neighbours. A couple of three situations; Jefferies observing, what he perceives and daily life in his apartment; along with appointments from his lover, Lisa, his nurse, Stella, and his old friend, Tom, the authorities detective. Hitchcock models the scene right away, the camera scans within the courtyard and its residents, a go of Jefferies calf in a cast, written on it 'Here lay the destroyed bones of L. B Jefferies', moving onto a shattered camera, a framed photo of two racing autos crashing with a wheel hurtling into the viewer, thus photographer and camera, many more photos on the wall structure of significant happenings, cameras, a negative image of a female and the positive on the front cover of the newspaper. So we already know where we have been, what's happened to the main persona, his name, his occupation. All of this information is directed at us within the first 5 minutes of the film.

Fig. 1 - Thorvalds reflection in Jefferies lens

The audience is automatically made as an accomplice to Jefferies voyeurism. When he picks up his camera lens to spy on his neighbours, the viewers appears too. What he perceives, the viewer considers. It really is a cultural taboo to pry and spy after people without their knowledge, to watch in this hidden voyeuristic way, but from the very start, the viewers does exactly that. This makes it very hard for the viewers to detach themselves. They're automatically discovering with Jefferies, the viewers experiences a variety of thoughts, often guilt for being essentially immoral and taking liberties with others privacy. Stella represents Jefferies as a "screen shopper" who "should have his eyes put out with red hot pokers". He's presented as a typical voyeur so that as Norman Denzin identifies:

". . . the voyeur is presented as a 'diseased', often paranoid, violent individual who violates the norms of every day life. Films validate these depictions of the voyeur insurance firms persons in power (family, editors, supervisors, the authorities) articulate how and just why the voyeur is a sick and tired and deviant and just why his or her gaze is incorrect. " (Denzin, 1995: 3).

Mulvey mentioned that "at the extreme, it can become fixated into a perversion, producing obsessive voyeurs and Peeping Toms whose only intimate satisfaction can come from watching, in an effective controlling sense, an objectified other. " (Mulvey, 2009: 17) Therefore can be related to Jefferies.

Fig. 2 - Lars Thorvald through Jefferies lens

What is displayed in the glass windows that Jefferies observes relates either him or Lisa or both of them. People could become their doubles. Their situation is crudely shown in Thorvalds. Jefferies views a man, reduced from a free of charge wanderer, to a going salesman, trapped by his constantly nagging and overtly resolved bedridden wife. The house windows portray all different relationships, the joys and sadness of marriage and nonattachment, whilst culture expects matrimony as the next step, the success of it isn't always made easy. That is all relative to our cultures idea of masculinity and the, maybe unobtainable, needs in makes on women and men. In this case, Jefferies is the one captured and invalid with his broken leg that confines him to the wheelchair, Lisa is the main one who is in a position to come and go. Miss Lonelyhearts and the composer mirror both Jefferies and Lisa, his lack of commitment to matrimony and her seeking of his commitment to her. A view into the future could be either that of the newlyweds, shut in behind drawn curtains, or the childless couple whose pleasure in life is their dog. They portray the several levels of feelings about marriage and unattachment. Jefferies never makes the bond between his own life and those he sees participating in out in the other apartments. Throughout the film, he focuses about the declining relationships, further highlighting the issues he has within his own life.

As Jefferies leg is broken, he is already stuck in his apartment. This sense is intensified when Lisa comes to see him, pressuring him about matrimony, although he desires to break up with her. Each and every time she talks of it, Jefferies destroyed and highly symbolic lower leg itches.

When Hitchcock was asked by Francois Truffaunt whether Jefferies was a snoop, Hitchcock replied:

"Sure, he's a snooper, but aren't most of us? I'll wager you that nine out of ten people, if indeed they see a woman over the courtyard undressing for foundation, or even a man puttering around in his room, will stay and appearance; no-one converts away and says, 'It's none of them of my business. ' They could yank down the blinds, nonetheless they never do; they stand there and appearance. " (Hitchcock, cited in Truffaut, F, 1985).

Scopophilia and the Identification, Ego and Superego

A main theme in Mulveys article is the pleasure in looking, 'scopophilia', which cinema offers. This idea was originally associated with one of the primary areas of sexuality as explained by Freud. He associated scopophilia with objectifying and handling others with your gaze. To look at, or to be considered, Freud deduced that pleasure was gained from these serves. To watch a person from a distance seems to connect with having an even of control, you are feeling power over them as you watch them, they are almost helpless to your undiscovered gaze.

It was Vienna in 1895 that observed the introduction of psychoanalysis within the publication of Freud's 'Studies on Hysteria'. It had been also, coincidentally, the same yr that the Lumiere brothers projected moving images to an audience greater than one, who payed for the knowledge. With Freud fresh at the forefront of people's intellects around this time, it is only natural to expect that people would, to some degree, begin making links between psychoanalysis and moving images.

According to Freud, we are all born with our 'Identification' instilled within us. It we can satisfy our basic needs. It is therefore closely linked with pleasure. For instance, when a baby is hungry, the id wants food, the infant will cry until it is given. If the kid wants attention, for just about any reason, the id is the part which instructs the child to cry and until they get attention. Situation is not taken into account; it is a primal urge to have a need met, regardless of reality. Over another three years, the next stage of the personality begins to develop. Whilst the kid begins to have interaction more with people and the globe in general, it begins to understand that other folks have needs, the reality principle. This is when the child will look at their sometimes unrealistic and irrational prospects to get what they need and begin to consider other people into account. It really is now the Ego's job to gratify the Id. By the age of approximately five, or the finish of the phallic level of development, that i have addressed just a little later, the 'Superego' commences to build up. This decides what's right and what's wrong, our morals, that happen to be basically instilled within us by our parents or caregiver. Many connect this to our conscience. According to Freud, the Ego is the best stage, gratifying the Identification, but also taking into consideration other people's emotions and the Superego, morals. It has to be an equal balance, because if the Identification was the primal traveling stage, gaining self satisfaction would be the main focus within someone's life, whereas if the Superego became too strong, they would be ruled by demanding and rigid morals. Freud also thought that whatever we experience; our thoughts, feelings etc. . . Come from our unconscious. Even though they aren't at the surface of our mind, Freud presumed they still impacted us greatly.

Fig. 3 - The Iceberg Metaphor

The above image clearly shows the various levels or our awareness. As you can see, the mindful only accocunts for an extremely small part of who we could. Freud believed that we are aware only of what's in our conscious, therefore, we are only aware of a small proportion of what makes up our personality, the rest is buried 'below the surface', as an iceberg, being that only the end is demonstrating, but it is merely an extremely small part of the entire thing. The preconscious is right below the surface, so if prompted we can gain access to these thoughts, however they aren't at the forefront of your mind or mindful. The nonconscious pertains to things that people are not yet alert to and is not integrated into our personality.

Freud believed that in the first periods of infancy, sexual desires are associated with basic needs, such as food, comfort, care and attention. The main person in the child's life, the mom or mother number, becomes the signifier of satisfaction to people needs. The father asserts himself and competitors for the moms attention, which forces the boy to stop the closeness he previously with his mom to make way for his father, creating jealously and anger towards his father. Freud called this the 'Oedipus Complex', after the ancient Greek story of King Oedipus, who killed his dad and hitched his mother. Even though story was much more complex, we were holding the main two aspects Freud concentrated upon. The thoughts intensify towards the daddy, making the guy think he'll do him damage by cutting off his male organ, the 'Castration Organic'. This pertains to the phallic level, whereby the concentrate of pleasure is through the genitals. The boy has associated his daddy with taking things away that cause him pleasure and satisfaction, firstly his mother, second, symbolically his genitals. Realising that his mom always 'belonged' to his father, he experiences thoughts of guilt for the attachment he kept with her and displaces the feelings he had with his mother towards other young girls and later women. Another of Freud's' assumptions here is that when the child notices his mothers' genitalia, not only is a difference mentioned, but a shortage. The boy eventually identifies with his father, becoming more like him, growing into a guy. The feminine, seen as lacking, re-iterates the idea that the masculine is to look, whilst the female is usually to be looked at.

The Oedipal process also takes place with girls, commonly known as the 'Electra Complex'. It starts at the stage when a difference is noted between her genitals and males, feeling that she is lacking she dreams about a penis. Freud noted this as 'Penis Envy'. The lady also realises that her mom doesn't have a manhood either, this reputation pertains to other females, which severs the relationship she retains with her mom, as she cannot give her what she needs. The girl turns to her daddy as her mom cannot give her what she wants. Her affections are also moved from mother to father, witnessing her mom also as a rival. Freud presumed that ladies/women swap their insufficient a manhood by needing/having a child.

Mulvey argues that visuality is organized in this gendered way, claiming that "in a world ordered by intimate imbalance, pleasure in looking has been separated between effective/male and unaggressive/female. The determining male gaze tasks its fantasy onto the feminine physique, which is styled accordingly. " (Mulvey, 2009: 19) Thus, Mulvey is saying that women cannot be represented as ladies in film, but only as castrated men:

"Ultimately, this is of women is erotic difference, the aesthetically ascertainable lack of the male organ, the material facts on which is situated the castration complex for the company of entry to the symbolic order and the law of the daddy. . . the male unconscious has two strategies of escape from this castration nervousness: re-enactment of the initial. . . or turning the represented shape itself into a fetish such that it becomes reassuring somewhat than dangerous. . . " (Mulvey, 2009: 22)

Fig. 4 - Jefferies; A voyeur of voyeurs

The female risk has to be eliminated or turned into a pleasurable thing. Jefferies has generated a scenario whereby Thorvald has murdered his wife, eliminating the anxiety. Jefferies is reluctant to commit by relationship to Lisa. He doesn't really show much desire for her. Her sexuality and matter to be a aesthetically objectified other is reiterated through her appearance and obsession with style and dress. It is merely when Lisa enters in to the world on the far side of the lens, where Jefferies can hold a controlling gaze over her, will his anxiety commence to decrease and she becomes sexually suitable to him.

Mulvey connects the situation and placement of the audience within the movie theater back to Freud's castration organic, relating to children's fascination, voyeurism and intuition of sexuality. Jefferies is gazing out of his window to temporarily ignore his problems, like the cinema-goers are there to use their head off theirs. The viewers are sitting low down, in a darkened room, creating emotions of isolation and segregation from others. Fixated upon a display screen delivering scenes before their eye. The contrast between the brightness of the display screen and the darkness of the movie theater only furthers the emotions of separation from others and productive voyeurism. The playing of the film is indifferent to the audiences' occurrence. They are not acting on making this happen, but it is happening, without any suggestions from them. Mulvey mentioned that the spectators' position is that of "repression of their exhibitionism and projection of the repressed desire onto the performer" (Mulvey, 2009: 17).

Jefferies position within the apartment is reflective of that of the audience within the theatre. They become Jefferies doubles. The spectator is Jefferies double, whilst Jefferies is the spectators twice, as the cinema mirrors the scene; the audiences are gazing after a home window/screen themselves. Also to take into account is that of the director, for he's showing all the is allowed. Our gaze is targeted solely with what he desires us to see. Jefferies career as a professional photographer almost mimics this, for we see only the particular camera sees. Definitely not Jefferies camera, but Hitchcock's. This also obviously shows the separation which is stressed within the psychoanalytical approach to voyeurism. He isn't effective within the planet he is observing. The spectator's fantasies are mirrored by what is happening in the apartments rentals they see, however, these fantasies can easily become nightmares, as the viewers has no control over what's happening. Jefferies will try to cover up from others looking in on him, seated in a darkened room. He attempts to encourage Lisa and Stella to do the same. Although viewers, throughout the film, feel relatively uneasy about the complete voyeuristic activity, it is rewarded in the long run. . . If Jefferies hadn't have been looking, a murderer would've gotten away with his criminal offense, making his spying almost admirable?

There is one world though, where we see, and Jefferies does not as he is sleeping. We watch as Thorvald leaves his apartment, with a woman that could very well be Mrs Thorvald. We have been left with a feeling of unease as we've made this discovery whilst Jefferies has not, knowing that we could be wrongly accusing Thorvald makes us question what it is we live actually doing by prying on other people; it takes us back again to sense uneasy and wrong about doing it.

Fig. 5 - Pleasure to burden

There is a level in the film, once we've observed Thorvald clean down the axe, the knife, as far as the viewer can be involved, the murder weapons, the voyeurs attention shifts, because it is now that seeing this world has truly gone past the pleasurable point, knowing the problem becomes a burden, not getting included is no more a choice.

One factor that must definitely be taken into account is that the idea of view throughout the film is simply male and portraying men sexual anxieties. Firstly, Jefferies broken leg is mirroring the 'castration' that Freud spoke of in his theory. Within a patriarchal culture, the sign of vitality is the phallus. Lack of electric power would encompass many socially set up masculine symbols, such as; money, specialist, social status, therefore, lack of ability is symbolic of castration, taking it back again to castration fear as a child, rivalling the father for the moms attention. At the start of Rear Home window, we see Jefferies destroyed leg, ultimately symbolic of impotence, rivals his very masculine job, where he moves to dangerous places and takes hazards. He broke he lower leg whilst photographing racing cars. It really is this concern with castration and Jefferies endeavors throughout the film to reaffirm potency and masculinity throughout the film that the male viewers will identify with. They'll understand that a lack of power can make them feel poor and unable. Jefferies will try to re-assert his masculinity through the controlling gaze as he pieces his neighbours. Firstly, he looks with his eyes, as his interest becomes more avid, he uses a couple of binoculars, and then a camera with a telephoto lens attached. The development of the apparatus he uses to spy upon his neighbours is very referentially phallic, his impotency and insufficient electric power is further re-affirmed, in particular when Lisa is searching Thorvalds' apartment, whilst Jefferies anxiously appears on from a safe vantage point.

Another thing to take into account is Jefferies as a professional photographer, never, throughout the duration of the film, loaded film into his camera to consider injections of Thorvald. The one time Jefferies refers to images are of some universal injections he has taken of the courtyard, he records the elevation of Thorvalds blooms has seemingly got less, deducing a body may have been buried there?

Marriage is crucially one of the key themes in Rear Windows, as well as castration, both of them relative to one another. Jefferies, the all American man and adventurer, and Lisa, the perfect American woman, sociable and beautiful, she actually is pressurising him to stay down into matrimony with her.

Fig. 6 - Lisa with Mrs Thorvalds wedding ring

" Editor: It's about time you got married, before you become a lonesome and bitter old man.

Jefferies: Yeah, can't you just see me, hurrying home to a hot apartment to listen to the automatic laundry and the electric dishwasher and the garbage removal and the nagging partner. . .

Editor: Jeff, wives don't nag anymore. They discuss.

Jefferies: Oh, is the fact that so, is that so? Well, maybe in the high-rent area they discuss. In my own neighbourhood they still nag. . . "

This conversation takes place 5 minutes and 40 seconds into the film. Whilst it is taking place, we see

What Jefferies is looking at; firstly we see Pass up Torso, dance around her apartment, the composer, relaxing at his piano making notes on his music as well as the Thorvalds; better half and hubby arguing. That is showing what could become of Jefferies is he decides to break things off with Lisa, he could get with the suitable Miss Torso, or could finish up depressed like the composer, but on the other hands he could marry and finish up trapped and miserable with a 'nagging better half'. It really is clear from the dialogue that typical is to marry, or you'll end up 'lonesome', but Jefferies perceives it in different ways.

Fig. 7 - Jefferies surveying Pass up Torso and the Composer

Fig. 8 - Mr and Mrs Thorvald

Another of the primary climatic landscape in Rear Windowpane is the getting close to Thorvald at Jefferies apartment. The noisy footsteps we listen to getting close and the shadow sneaking under the crack of the entranceway adds almost intolerable pressure. Thorvald burst in to the apartment with a look of anger and distress. You may almost pity him for a second. He's a display of what could've been for Jefferies in life, not only Jefferies, but the male spectators in the audience. Approaching as a large, shadowed, menacing figure, Jefferies is no more at a safe distance, not only from Thorvald, but realisation of life, he does not have his camera, the thing that has retained this distance. The flashbulbs he uses are just temporarily affective at stunning Thorvald, Jefferies is helpless and again emasculated, he still approaches greatly, grabbing your hands on him and pressing him on the balcony. . . We land with him. Inside the closing arena, we see it's still hot, we see Jefferies with both his feet in plaster casts, along with his back to the windows whilst Lisa lies on the foundation reading 'Beyond The High Himalayas', dressed up in trousers and a shirt, until she realises Jefferies is asleep and swaps it for 'Bazaar'. That is demonstrating the changes and compromise that are to occur. Miss Torso's prodigal love comes home from war, The Composer is playing one of his pieces to a woman in his apartment, we can hear it is approximately a woman called Lisa. The childless couple have a fresh pup and the newlyweds are arguing about work. This ties the motion pictures loose eventually ends up. Order seems as though it has been restored.


Scottie enthusiastic about Madeline, she dies slipping from bell tower, satisfies similar girl, who he tries to make the same as her, Freud, castration organic with mom, she's the perfect female, idealised. . . Father will take her away. He's making her dress a certain way, function, look etc. . .

Conclusion of items/mulvey

A point of view that Mulvey didn't consider with either Back Screen or Vertigo was the feminine movie theater goer. . . .

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