Rear Window Mise En Scene Analysis

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Both of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, North by Northwest and Rear Window, were great movies with lots of suspense. The suspense, however, would not have been created without the entire mise-en-scene of the movies. Hitchcock was a master at using the elements of lighting, sound, and cinematography to heighten the suspense in his movies. The first key element of mise-en-scene that played a significant role in both movies was lighting. In North by Northwest, the part right before the infamous crop duster scene had lots of details that helped prepare the audience for what was about to come. First of all, everything was extremely bright with the use of high-key lighting. This helps set the time of day, probably mid afternoon, but it also forces the…show more content…
In the North by Northwest scene previously mentioned in the last paragraph, there were very little diegetic sounds. The only sounds that are heard are the vehicles on the road as they drove past Thornhill, the distant sound of the crop duster, and Thornhill’s own feet walking across the gravel. The almost silent scene forces the audience to stay in high alert, adding to the suspense. In contrast, the movie, Rear Window, has many diegetic sounds, from the distant conversations, the city traffic, the yapping dog, to the struggling pianist playing on his piano day in and day out. All of these sounds could represent Jeff’s own state of mind. For example, when Jeff overhears the bickering between Mr. and Mrs. Thorwald, it reminds him of his own fears about commitment and marriage. Hitchcock masterfully used an abundance of noise and the almost complete absence of sound to affect the suspense in these two…show more content…
The bird’s eye view shots in North by Northwest created true “cliffhanging” suspense, like the Mt. Rushmore chase scene. The use of wide-angle shots gave the audience a feeling of helplessness that feeds into the suspense. Also, the camera would cut quickly between actors to give a sense of urgency and fear. By comparison, Rear Window’s cinematography seems less rushed and urgent, but that does not mean it is any less suspenseful. The film was shot mainly from Jeff’s perspective, in his apartment looking across the courtyard into his neighbors’ windows. The movie mainly focuses on the use of fade in/fade out techniques, representing Jeff falling asleep and waking up, the passing of time, and the shutter of Jeff’s camera lens. While North by Northwest and Rear Window seem to have few similarities on the surface, both movies use expert cinematography to convey suspense. In conclusion, lighting, diegetic sounds, and cinematography are three key elements of mise-en-scene that director Alfred Hitchcock uses in his movies, specifically North by Northwest and Rear Window. These elements are skillfully integrated into these movies to create suspense that keeps the audience on their toes, questioning what is going to happen next, and wanting more. Even though Hitchcock used these techniques in completely different ways, the end result for both was a timeless, suspenseful
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