Rear Window is just one of those movies: it has left an indelible imprint on the cultural landscape. And it will forever remain not only one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best films, but one of the most recognized and respected filmmaking achievements of all time.
In my couple of prior viewing experiences, the film had been presented to me as a thriller. One of the best thrillers of all time, in fact. In those other viewings, I think I was taken with the thrilling aspects, though perhaps only slightly given their comparative lightness to modern-day examples of the genre. The narrative is straight forward, the bad guy is the bad guy, and save for the climactic finale (which makes such excellent use of the protagonist and antagonist’s sensory experience) there is very little in the way of fear or anxiety. This is thriller-lite by Hitchcock’s standards.
At a recent screening—the first of those Fathom Events I’ve ever been to, though not for lack of interest—I was struck instead by the film’s singularness, by the limits and advantages of its restricted shooting style, and, most delightfully, by its humor.
So, rather than think of Rear Window as a straight thriller, I’d like to sit with its oddness, its off-kilter delight in the horror of its conceit, and its perfectly executed claustrophobia. In fact, I’d instead like to think of Rear Window as Hitchcock’s unique brand of homebound relationship dramedy-turned-horror. Let’s explore what makes this film so strange! Continue reading