Voyeurism In The Rear Window

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Rear Window thrusts us into the role of a voyeuristic neighbor, a role that we find ourselves quite comfortable filling. The point of voyeurism though, is that it is always a one-way street; we find comfort in knowing that we are able to watch others while we ourselves remain unseen. Together with our wheelchair ridden protagonist, LB “Jeff” Jeffries, we watch through a series of open windows as Jeff’s various neighbors go about their day to day lives. Though all of these people are placed there to distract us from the main event in an apartment across the courtyard: a neighbor, Mr.Thorwald, covering up the murder of his wife. A growing obsession leads to dangerous ambition as Jeff is forced to face the reality of this voyeuristic ‘sins’ when…show more content…
She fails to convince him of her innocence though, and after a few moments, he lunges at her. Understandably fearing for her life, Lisa yells for Jeff. In that moment, we are as crippled as Jeff is. Confined to our seats helplessly as she is assaulted. As Lisa yells for help, Thorwald is able to wrap his arms tightly around Lisa’s neck, and he reaches for the lightswitch, shrouding yet another of his crimes in an ambiguous shroud of darkness. This leaves us feeling even more powerless, as even the previously unimpeded safeguard of being able to watch uninhibited is stripped from us. We too are left in the dark. This darkness and uncertainty brings to light Hitchcocks use of psychoanalytic light. Psychoanalytic light is something that Hitchcock works with time and time again in his films. “Hitchcock’s analytical light functions in a similar way to escort us across the boundary of between knowledge and suspicion.” (Pomerance). It is a way the he can convey to us what is truth, and what must be questioned. Previously in the film, there are moments where events going on in other apartments are shrouded by closed curtains, or shut off lights. This leaves us, along with Jeff, to make assumptions on what is going on within, and what motivated the act of shrouding our view into the…show more content…
Since this is an act that most people have no problem partaking in on their day to day; i.e. “people watching”, the viewer finds it very easy to feel at-home in this role, and are able to sit back and watch the events of the film unfold. Only when our protagonist is caught, we are also forced to reassess our role, as we now feel all too uncomfortable in the face of reality. We are not used to being an active participant in a film, only a spectator. By connecting our role, and the role of Jeff so closely together, Hitchcock compels us to feel just as barefaced as Jeff when caught by Mr.Torwald. We are deer caught in headlights, paralyzed in the face of our
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