“Rear Window” Pure Cinema
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Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Rear Window(1954), is a movie based on a short film. A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. The professional photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, played by James Stewart, breaks his leg while getting an action shot at an auto race. L.B. had nothing better to do then sit and watch. The movie was filmed on one stage set, made up of several apartment buildings and a centered courtyard.
Hitchcock wanted to show the purest expressions of a cinematic idea when filing this movie. So he used a 3-shot design. First, they would show L.B. looking out the window, then cut to a shot across the courtyard, then back to L.B. to show his reaction to what he had seen. One example of the shot design was when you see L.B. gazing out the window, then we see a pretty young lady, Miss Torso played by Georgine Darcy, dancing around her apartment in a bathing suit top and shorts, then the shot goes back to L.B., who is now smiling. The 3-shot design is used throughout the entire movie.
This 3-shot design can be compared to the seminal editing experiments done by Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov because it was the same structure. For example, as noted in the interview with Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock states that “Yet, in both cases, they used the same shot of the actor; his face was exactly the same.” This can be interpreted as, The same expression can be used to show the reaction to two totally different situations. There are many part in the movie, Rear Window, that may have used this same technique.
Hitchcock : Truffaut – Rear Window Interview