Essay Opening Shot Analysis of Rear Window

1038 Words Apr 6th, 2013 5 Pages
The opening scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window essentially acts as one long establishing shot — only rather than establishing just the location of a scene, it establishes the entire film in more ways than one. One particularly important shot in the scene, beginning 00:02:36 into the film, tells the audience much of what it will need to know about Rear Window’s setting, characters, and themes. The long take begins with an alarm clock waking up a couple, sleeping out on their balcony. As the camera moves from window to window around the courtyard, we see a few brief snippets of characters’ lives. And finally, the audience sees inside the apartment that has been its point of view all along. Mise-en-scene, framing, and cinematography …show more content…
This image, along with the cheerful music playing from somebody’s radio, implies a level of safety and comfort in this neighborhood that will sharply contrast with the violence to come in the film. While much of the neighborhood appears on-screen in the beginning of the shot, one important thing is notably off-screen the whole time: The view from which the camera pivots. Behind the camera was the apartment of L.B. Jeffries, and the camera pans to the left, inside his window, to finish with a brief tour around his living room that teaches us his most important character traits. We see first, in an extreme close-up of a cast, that Jeffries has a broken leg. And then the camera pans left and we see why: A broken camera appears on screen, and a rack focus shift to the background shows a photograph of an automobile accident with a tire flying straight at the camera. Then several other framed photographs of exciting events appear on the screen, telling us Jeffries is a photographer who craves adventure and excitement. The mise-en-scene of this shot hints at important information about Jeffries, his neighbors, and the neighborhood in general. But what the camera does tells us something much stronger: Rear Window is a film about voyeurism, and a commentary on audiences watching drama on a screen. The framing of different