Rear Window

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Tell me exactly what you saw and what you think it means…

Being a Graphic Designer that works within the theatre and live entertainment industry, for so long now, it has rubbed off considerably (I'm institutionalised!), to the point where sometimes - more than sometimes - I think I'd actually like to put on my own version of a show one day. The master-plan is to eventually bring 2001 A Space Odyssey to the stage in a spectacular way then, if that's a hit, follow it up with Alien… I think there's a massive gap in the market where sci-fi and theatre are concerned. There may be a reason for that!

Failing the above, Rear Window would definitely make more than a great alternative story to do this with. It lends itself so well to the stage, limited characters, limited manoeuvrability, all the things that might make it a difficult film to watch (although they didn't) would actually benefit the theatre. Get the set design right and there'd be no need for an awkward set change during the interval.

I'm not the first person to ever think this of course. Only last year Kevin Bacon featured in an on-stage production of the show. Although, as you can see from the images in this article, the set design was rather different to that of the film, almost removing Bacon from the apartment entirely, bringing him closer to the action. This works in it's own way but I would really want to bring back the scale that Hitchcock manages to achieve with this film. He essentially had a street constructed inside the film studio, several floors, 31 apartments with 8 of them being fully furnished, all seen from a distance…

Yes, i'm definitely going to put this one on the wish list for my impending/imaginary career change into the other side of theatre. It will make light relief for those times when I'm not trying to work out how to represent Discovery One's giant centrifuge as a set piece! (Seriously, it's the best space ship ever conceived!)

I digress…

Review

So far so good… It appears Hitchcock can do no wrong. However, out of 4 films, 3 have been consecutive, so perhaps I've jumped in during the golden years. I hope not. Somewhere in 53 films I am expecting to be disappointed but it's certainly not happened yet. Rear Window was another cracker and another brilliant performance from Grace Kelly; it was only a shame she wasn't in it a little more.

I couldn't help but notice the way in which she introduced herself as Lisa… Carol… Fremont… whilst turning on the lamps in the apartment, There was something about it that was quite different to any way I've ever seen anyone introduce themselves, deliberate yet graceful. It seems I'm not the only one who's picked up this 'perfect' entrance too (note to self ,make sure this is replicated in stage show!).

The story itself was gripping too, even before anything 'unusual' happened I found myself drawn in, scouring for clues, memorising details in the anticipation of what may or may not be about to occur. The limited view seems frustrating at first, confined to look at everything from a distance, but it soon becomes familiar, as mentioned above, the set hardly changes and soon becomes a familiar friend as you begin to learn what makes Jeff's (played by James Stewart) neighbours tick.

What I especially liked were all his nicknames for his neighbours. Almost none of the characters have names, only the adopted nicknames given to them by Jeff… the dancer, the pianist, mrs lonely heart and so on. This connected with me, as it's so like what I do with many of my own neighbours. From my best estimate, there are around 20-24 people living in our cul-de-sac but I could only safely name 3-4 of them… the rest all have adopted names such as 'the man who walks his dogs a lot', and 'pink onesie girl'. I know all their comings and goings and their habits, but I don't know their characters and what motivates them…

That's what makes this film gripping in a way. Jeff is sure he has witnessed something, but he hasn't really witnessed anything, just people coming and going, in unusual ways. It's dangerous to jump to the kind of conclusions that he is and then go to the lengths he does to prove them. Guilty or innocent, the wrath of neighbours is not wisely incurred. With him being wheelchair bound it ultimately falls to Lisa to put herself in harms way for him (which fits nicely in to their romantic sub-plot) and, without spoiling the outcome, that really intensifies right towards the end of the movie.

This is a movie that comes slowly at first, teasing, and then all at once too fast… Where To Catch A Thief (Grace Kelly again, and the next consecutive Hitchcock film in the list!) used highs and lows to create a sense of thrill, this film uses acceleration and deceleration to do the same. The silence on the end of the phone; the sound of footsteps in the hallway… a neighbour but still a stranger… the stuff of nightmares!

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