Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rear Window - Worship It

Rear Window is an Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece. I cannot believe how lovely this film is after being fifty six years old. This is an ocean full of living creativity that people could still learn from today. The film is very minimalist: one setting, four major characters, and a lot of scenes with no dialogue. In a story like this, it's important to know your limitations while using them to your advantage: And Hitchcock knows his shit.

The dialogue in this film is full of priceless wit and undertone. In a film with only four characters, one a minor recurring detective, it's important to make certain that when they are present their interaction is believable and entertaining. There's no waste when it comes to this script! James Stewart as "Jeff" is absolutely brilliant as the Every Man, with a beautiful character arc from start to finish. If that isn't enough, the film's beautiful supporting actress Grace Kelly, playing "Lisa," has a character arc of her own where we watch her--right along with Jeff--become something we never expected from such a dainty-looking gal. For me, however, on a personal note, the shining light in this film was Thelma Ritter playing "Stella." Every line out of this woman's mouth was comedic witty gold. And I savored every moment of her delicious savory dialogue as if life was simply not worth living without it--and it's not.

Cinematography. This film is all about the camera angles. Wonderful long shots, beautiful story-telling, and eerie moments all captured without a single piece of dialogue. With intelligent, minimalist genius Hitchcock doesn't waste one shot, one scene, one second of film. Never before have I seen such limitations result in such perfection. There's a moment, when watching this film, I sat on the edge of my seat, just like Jeff (James Stewart), who watches as his girlfriend and nurse venture out to investigate, while he's stuck inside watching. We really become one with the voyeur, Jeff, completely interested and engaged as he is in the goings-on of his neighbors. The shots through the camera and binoculars, the traveling shots from neighbor to neighbor, all capture this perspective for us. And when we see the dark apartment, just the embers of the cigar, our blood chills. When we see Jeff look up from his camera at Lisa (Grace Kelly), we fall in love with her all over again through him. When he's alone in his apartment, looking through his camera at the ring on Lisa's finger, and it turns to Mr. Thorwald, and he looks right at us, we jump along with Jeff, shutting off the lights in fear. We've been spotted. He's coming not just for Jeff. He's coming for us! And this is done without any words, without any dialogue. This is done with the camera. Thank you, Camera.

I think the only complaint I have--and I am really nit-picking here--is there is a lot of fade out/fade in moments used especially in the beginning, and in quick sequence. At this moment, though I understand Hitchcock is trying to have us "doze off" and "awaken" much like Jeff, it becomes too often takes the viewer out of the film, if only for just a moment, and reminds them this is a movie. And I'm pretty certain that was not his intent, but perhaps this moment was unavoidable. I would certainly believe so, considering how genius Hitchcock was in the rest of the film. And, though I'd like to say much more on the subject, this movie has a great representation of women, more impressive being in the 50s, but more impressive than most female representation in film even today. This movie is timeless (aside from maybe some special effects), and I recommend it to anyone with a brain. This is a film that will end up as a part of my shrine: That's right, this movie gets Worship It. Not even a debatable issue: Worship It.

No comments: