Thursday, June 16, 2011

Views on Marriage and Voyeurism

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Robert Smith

Views on Marriage and Voyeurism

This critical analysis was done on the movie Rear Window, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released in 154. In Rear Window each storyline of characters is almost a movie with in itself in which Alfred Hitchcock uses these storylines to show the audience two major themes. The themes are the characters’ views on marriage and the parallelism between them and the act of voyeurism of L.B. Jefferies.

In the beginning of Rear Window, we see Jefferies’ views on marriage. While Jefferies is on the phone with his boss and watching the Thorwalds, we see and hear Jefferies first opinions on marriage. What we see is Jefferies watching the Thorwalds having a little argument and Jefferies telling his boss at the same time that he needs to get out of his apartment before he gets married to a nagging wife. Another example of Jeff’s opinions on marriage is when the insurance nurse Stella comes to see Jefferies and they have a discussion on his relationship with Lisa Freemont. Jeff tells Stella that Lisa is too perfect and that he is looking for someone who can go anywhere with everything packed in one suitcase. These examples let the audience know that Jefferies is not interested in getting married. An opposite view, that Jeff does have good thoughts about marriage, is the newlyweds’ storyline. When Jeff sometimes looks at the pulled down shades or when Larry is called backed from smoking his cigarette, Jeff will give a little smile, which implies a positive sense towards marriage.

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It is not towards the end of Rear Window that Jeff is finally interested in Lisa. Lisa comes over with a little briefcase to stay the night, which implies her willingness to change for Jeff. When Lisa decides to dig up the flowerbed and then go into Mr. Thorwald’s illegally, we see Jeff’s enthusiastic response to Lisa’s actions. Also, the wedding ring of Mrs. Thorwald is symbolic to Jeff and Lisa ‘s relationship because the ring goes from the breakup of the Thorwalds to the finger of Lisa, which symbolizes the connection of Jeff and Lisa.

Each storyline of the movie has some underlying connection to marriage whether there is one or not. The main relationship of L.B. Jefferies and Lisa Fremont are paralleled to the characters of the other storylines. There is a well-defined parallel between Jeff and Lisa, who are unmarried, and the married couple, the Thorwalds, when both are having dinner at the same time. Lisa is paralleled with Mr. Thorwald because both are serving dinner to their partners and they both are trying to please each corresponding partner. Jefferies is paired with Mrs. Thorwald because both are bedridden and both are procrastinating to their mates. Examples of procrastinating are when Mrs. Thorwald throws the flower from her dinner plate onto the floor and Jefferies complains that Lisa’s dinner is too perfect like always. Another comparison is between Lisa and Miss Torso who are both beautiful, single woman. When Miss Torso has several male companions at her apartment, Jeff tells Lisa that it resembles her apartment but Lisa is quick to deny the parallelism. We can see that Miss Torso and Lisa are very beautiful and are quit capable of having their pick of men, but instead they choose to pick men that would seem out of the ordinary, Jeff and short, balding, army man Stanley that Miss Torso is so happy to see at the end of Rear Window. Miss Lonelyhearts is another character paralleled to Jeff, as both are lonely looking for Mr. or Mrs. right and both find happiness at the end.

Hitchcock uses well-defined shots, props, and script to let the audience know that voyeurism is another major theme of Rear Window. The shot of Jefferies cast and close-ups of Jeff’s camera and pictures introduces us to the fact that he is immobile and that his job involves the act of looking at something. Shots of Jeff backing up in his wheelchair in an overcast of shadow shows that he is aware of what he is doing is wrong and doesn’t want to get caught. The individual storylines, as mentioned earlier, give a sense that Jeff is watching a movie, which could be seen as an act of voyeurism. The shot of the helicopter flying over the sunbathers gives a clear act of voyeurism. Props like the binoculars and telephoto camera lens also aid in the audience to participate in Jeff’s voyeurism by showing what Jeff is looking at through these objects. The major exposure to voyeurism is in the dialog of the movie. The nurse, Stella, and girlfriend, Lisa, of Jefferies are both opposed to his acts of voyeurism in the beginning until both women get involved in the mystery murder of Mrs. Thorwald, but does this still make it ok to gaze upon or neighbors private lives.

Overall, Hitchcock makes great efforts to get the audience attention by getting them involved in the mystery murder. This is possible by the separate storylines, dialog, props, and screen shots that Hitchcock uses. The audience is left at the end to wander about Jeff and Lisa’s marital bliss and whether Jeff’s voyeurism was worth anything at all.

Work Cited

Hitchcock, Alfred, dir. Rear Window. DVD. 184.

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