Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window Essay

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Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window

In Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock took a plot-driven short story and transformed it into a character-driven movie. Although differences must exist between text and film, because of the limitations and advantages of the different media, Hitchcock has done more than translate a word-based story into a visual movie. Aside from adding enough details to fill a two-hour movie, Hitchcock has done much to change the perspective of the story, as well as the main character. The novel’s Hal Jeffries, a seemingly hard-boiled and not overly intellectual man contrasts sharply with the photojournalist J.B. Jeffries of the movie. The addition of supporting characters, such as Lisa, diminishes somewhat the
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Hitchcock uses several devices to help the reader identify more with the character of Jeff. While he obviously desires to be some kind of hero, both in the story and the movie, he as prevented from doing so in both by the restriction of his movement. The story never explains fully the reason Jeffries is bound to his room, merely saying “my movements were strictly limited…I could get from the window to the bed, and from the bed to the window” (5). In the film, Jeff has broken his leg while photographing a car crash. The specificity of the injury not only justifies Jeff’s immobility, but also gives him a more masculine edge, by his actions while being injured.

The Jeffries character in the short story appears to be a lone sort of character. He lives alone, with little contact with the outside world. His only human interaction, aside from the imagined connection provided by his watching his neighbors, occurs with Sam, a paid servant. While his suspicions of his neighbor do force him to contact a detective, his thoughts before he calls the detective reveal his isolationist tendencies: “I didn’t want to be involved any more than I had to. Or at all, if possible” (16). Boyne’s excited response to Jeff’s call shows how long he has been isolated, although the cause of Jeff’s withdrawal, goes, like so much else in the story, unexplained.

In the movie, Hitchcock lessens the
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