Rear Window (1954)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by John Michael Hayes

Rear Window is one of those perfect little films. And when I say perfect little films, I mean that it is not one that is easily explained, only easily consumed and loved. When I sit down to write about my experience with the film, I don’t immediately think of any scene in particular, any performance in particular, any aspect of the film really jumps off the screen and singles itself out. Rather, what happens with Rear Window is that the film settles into itself and becomes the ultimate, complete masterpiece of a film. There really is no other explaination for something like this. And it’s funny because that is not how I first viewed the film. Like some of the greatest films whose start to finish and top to bottom are as beautifully composed as this, the wonderment of Rear Window lies in the complexity and the bits to unravel upon subsequent viewings.

Every minute of the experience of this film is marvelous. Right from the first shot to the final. As I stroll about my merry way from day to day, one of my favorite pasttimes is always people watching. I love it so, and in fact, am always astonished that I don’t find more people looking at me, as I am always looking at others, and having people catch me watching them. People are fascinating, I swear it. And with that in mind, Rear Window becomes a great example of the peeping tom. I am not perverted, rather inquisitive and curious. The mundane of everyday life I find genuinely interesting because I know beneath the surface of everyone there is someone just like me, and I think I’m pretty cool and interesting, so I bet that guy over there by the Coke machine thinks the same way about himself. Heck, if I spent the time to talk to him and try to get to know him, I bet he could tell me a story or two to entertain me. People are fascinating. Fact.

The film itself is what it is. It has Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly (not to mention Thelma Ritter), it has the tension and build of a typical Hitchcock, the great visuals, blah, blah, blah, yea, yea, yea. We have all heard that a million times, so what really sets this film apart from others? Or from other Hitchcocks? The characters I would say, and that is because it is such a character study underneath its thriller surface. We get bits at a time about these people. Jeffries struggles with the idea of staying home, away from his adventures, with Lisa, and he struggles seeing her on his adventures. Any sane man would call Jeffries insane for the very fact that Lisa is Lisa and Lisa is Grace Kelly. Alright, any other character maybe, but Jeffries fits that romantic subplot perfectly, but more importantly his character suits the situation he is thrown into with the rear window neighbor watching pasttime as well. It is a a truly beautiful thing to watch it all come together. It is not often I rewatch a film and gain this much appreciation, but when a film is this good, there is always more to glean from it.

**** – Masterpiece

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