Opening Shot Analysis of Rear Window

1025 words 5 pages
The opening scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window essentially acts as one long establishing shot — only rather than establishing just the location of a scene, it establishes the entire film in more ways than one. One particularly important shot in the scene, beginning 00:02:36 into the film, tells the audience much of what it will need to know about Rear Window’s setting, characters, and themes. The long take begins with an alarm clock waking up a couple, sleeping out on their balcony. As the camera moves from window to window around the courtyard, we see a few brief snippets of characters’ lives. And finally, the audience sees inside the apartment that has been its point of view all along. Mise-en-scene, framing, and cinematography …show more content…

The first people in the shot, the couple sleeping on their balcony, are seen in a medium-long shot through a railing. It provides a border on all four sides of them, and they never leave that frame — even after sitting up, the tops of their heads remain inside it. Then the camera pans downward and to the left and we see Miss Torso exhibiting sexuality. Like the sleeping couple, she appears bordered on all four sides, in this case by a window. And even as she walks toward the door and back, and kicks her leg far out to the side, she never leaves that frame. Similarly, the shopkeeper and the playing children are seen through an alleyway, and the buildings on both sides of them provide a tight frame around them. When the children exit that frame, they exit our view. This framing of the supporting characters in the film reinforces the idea that they are characters acting out a drama for Jeffries to watch — he sees them as if they were on a screen for him to look at. And when we do finally see Jeffries, he is the only character who isn’t given a frame to stay inside. The cinematography, or the way the camera moves from character to character, also supports this thematic interpretation. The point-of-view of the camera stays inside Jeffries’ apartment, and the camera pans left from one apartment window to another, eventually pivoting all the way inside Jeffries’ window. This movement further suggests Jeffries’


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