Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Framing Fascination: Studies of Alfred Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW

[The above video shows an open installation that took place at London College of Communication on the 5th of October 2010. The setup was composed of two screens facing each other. The first screen was a frame (a symbolic window) with a transparent surface through which you could see the action unfolding on the second screen (the rear building’s apartments). For more information about this project, see here]
Often, as in Rear Window (1954), eavesdropping or spying is represented itself as a form of voyeuristic fascination that colors the mystery with the aura of something that is taboo and implicates the spectator in the same prurient fascination as the character. By placing within the scene a character who takes an illicit fascination in a mystery, the mystery is thereby lent an aura of perversity, over and above the perverse connotations that it may already carry. But the significance of the voyeuristic scenario is not limited to the perverse coloration it lends to subjective suspense. [Richard Allen, 'Hitchcock and Narrative Suspense Theory and Practice' in Allen, Richard, Malcolm Turvey (eds), Camera Obscura, Camera Lucida: Essays in Honor of Annette Michelson (Amsterdam University Press, 2004),  p. 178]

In Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954), the audience looks ‘through’ a character’s eyes into a window which is also a cinema screen. The frame functions psychologically in many ways. It puts us in the position of being a voyeur and seeing through the eyes of a voyeur. Yet we are also external to this viewing: there is a switchback effect here of distance and involvement, of continually stepping back from watching people and watching through their eyes, feeling what they are feeling, but being aware also of a skilfully constructed fiction. In the same way, the frame of the screen is complemented by the frame of the rear window, but the frame of the cinema screen is also the frame of the lens, our eyes (the extent of our peripheral vision), the character’s eyes and Hitchcock’s eyes. These are all stages of the frame, their plurality alluded to in the image itself, in the plurality of its frames. [Gregory Minisalle, 'Beyond Internalism and Externalism: Husserl and Sartre’s Image Consciousness in Hitchcock and Buñuel', Film-Philosophy, 14:1, 2010, 190]
Film Studies For Free brings you one of its "studies of a single film" today: an entry dedicated to gathering direct links to high-quality studies of Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 film Rear Window, and other items of related interest. Rather like L. B. "Jeff" Jeffries in that film, you don't even need to get out of your chair to enjoy them.

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