The Silent Majority

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Rear Window

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Rear Window

Hitchcock films get a bad reputation in many “modern” circles. His work often ignored as the iconic imagery has been replayed so often in satires and homages that the plot seems familiar, as though we’ve already seen it. Or the films are challenged as being formulaic or un-adventurous by today’s standards. But Hitchcock built the formulas and the iconic imagery never gives away the film. So as many times as it feels like you’ve seen Rear Window, it plays fresh, drawing you in wordlessly as you spy on L.B. before you begin spying on the neighbours.

REAR WINDOW is a film about paranoia and the morbid curiosity that strings out of boredom, where the slightest bits of evidence become the grandest accusations. L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart), an action photographer in his last week recuperating with a broken leg in a cast, is confined to his wheelchair, his only hobby watching the neighbours between visits from girlfriend Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly) and his sassy nurse. As the hot summer days roll on, L.B. notices the absence of a salesman’s bed-ridden wife and suspicious behaviour from the salesman. Taking a closer look, his paranoia grows: The salesman, he concludes, murdered his wife and has disappeared her body.

With a stationary set, like L.B. you never leave the room, looking out the window with him and listening to every minute detail of his paranoid fantasy. In the beginning you have your doubts. Soon, it doesn’t matter if he’s right or wrong – something’s gone wrong in that apartment. For every piece of evidence to contradict the theory, the idea festers and becomes more suggestive. The question of “Did he kill his wife?” becomes “How did he do it?” and “How can L.B. prove it?”

So the paranoia festers as L.B. involves an old detective friend who is more than happy to find a reasonable explanation for the events and sweep them comfortably out of L.B.’s mind. But L.B. won’t let go, bringing Lisa and his Nurse into his peeping, all three of them sitting in the dark looking across the way with binoculars and a large lenses camera.

When paranoia crests, Lisa and the Nurse jump into action for evidence of misdeeds, running through leads and distracting the salesman which only sees them taken away and you left alone with L.B. in that room. Your gamble shown in the light and the last person that you want to see you’ve been playing can see you quite clearly.

And when it comes to retribution the effect is monstrously menacing. It feels unstoppable. Your fear is palatable. Your legs broken as L.B.’s. Your guilt as obvious. You looked with him. And you believed everything he said. As hopelessness and vengeance grip you, you don’t know if it was all for naught.

Did he do it? How do you know he did?

How do you know he didn’t?

– Timothy Legion

Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.


Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 18, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Posted in mystery, thriller

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