Woolrich————————————————- CIN 375E: formal notes for Novermeber 8, 2010 Part 2; Prepared by: Sivfong Liu (Siv) We began the second half of the class discussing about the film Rear Window. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window is a movie about an injured photographer’s (Jeff) accounts and observations of his neighbor’s daily activities through the windows of his confined New York City apartment. After being injured during an auto race accident, Jeff’s left leg was encased in castings up to his waist, leaving him immobile and wheelchair-bound.
His “peeping-tom” behavior first started as merely an innocent activity to help his kill time, but later, it became an obsession. The film Rear Window is a critique on male voyeurism; critique of a peeping tom. In this movie, Hitchcock is able to draw a parallel between Jeff and the audience. Jeff’s relationship to the scenes outside his window is equivalent to the relationship the audiences have with the movie. During the discussion, a question was raised, asking why there is much focus of Liza’s ‘potency’ (or Jeff’s impotency) in the reading we were assigned.
In Rear Window, there is a highlight of the issue of male impotency; which is also common in other Hitchcock films. In conventional psychoanalysis, women present a treat of castration. Hence, men find ways of overcoming this with various strategies. In Rear Window, in order to combat this sexual incompetence, Jeff fines various ways to solve and channel this problem. In the movie, he first used binoculars to watch his neighbors and later on used a power powerful telescopic photo lens to spy on them.
It is only when he uses there “equipment” then he will be able to see what he want to see. In the movie, Hitchcock presents a scene that shows Jeff sticking his scratcher into his casting and eventually goes “Ahhhh”, (or ejaculate). This scene explains men (Jeff) lack of sexual power and by portraying this scene; Hitchcock is able to call our attention to it. The theme of the Jeff’s lacking sexual power runs across the movie. In every Hitchcock’s film, the ‘Babe’ is desired. However, in Rear Window, Jeff’s think Liza is too perfect.
Also, going back to the topic of impotency, Liza in this case has more power than he does. She is mobile, independent, and need to help caring for him. He on the other hand is an invalid, constrain and can do almost nothing. In the first scene in which Liza first appeared, the very first image is a shadow of Liza casting over Jeff. Shadows have a peculiar and powerful meaning. This casting of Liza’s shadow over Jeff also signifies her power over him. Thus, by presenting Liza this way, Hitchcock is able to portray Liza as a threat to Jeff.
In the movie, Liza is taking care of him all the time, instead of him taking care of her. This makes Jeff really uncomfortable. Hence, in order to ease his incompetency and bring “Liza’s power down”, he belittles Liza’s job and does not recognize it’s important whereas he speaks highly of his own. Jeff’s cast in the movie is a signifier for what Jeff is all the time, an invalid. Throughout the movie, he was never once without his cast. His invalidity is further proven during the ending of the movie by having both his legs in casts.
In the last scene, Liza was shown sitting in front of Jeff reading a book about the Himalayas while Jeff was sleeping. Realizing that he is asleep, she switched in reading a fashion magazine. This shows that even though women tries to cater to men, women still makes the final decision for themselves and thus have the final say. In the opening sequence of the film, the movie shows a scene off the window, then showing the surroundings of the neighborhood. The scene then switches to a shot of Jeff sleeping in his apartment and with sweat dripping down his face.
Then, the scene changes again to show a shots of what the neighbors where doing. There was a shot that shows Miss Torso putting on her Bra/corset. In this shot, Jeff is not watching Miss Torso, only the audience is able to see her. Therefore, in this scene, Hitchcock is able to allow Miss Torso to be erotized by the audience, not Jeff. In the scene in which Jeff was on the phone with his boss, Hitchcock made use of the eye-line match to show women on the roof stripping. Then, there was another eye-line match to show Jeff looking at the helicopter that was hovering over the roof.
Thus, in this scene, the people in the helicopter are being voyeuristic. While on the phone, there is a long sequence of scenes showing Jeff watching Miss Torso dance around her room. The question is – is he interested? Jeff shows no signs that he was turned on by the scene in front of him. His sexual energy has been displaced through the lens of the binoculars and cameras. This scene of Miss Torso is once again Hitchcock’s attempt to induce erotic thoughts from the audience.
Another question posed during class was whether Liza is like the other women in Hitchcock films. The class mainly agrees that she is different in the sense that she is in control. In the diegisis, she addresses the Mr. Thorwald’s crime and carried the action herself while Jeff is doing nothing. In most of the scenes, she is also portrayed to tower above him, therefore proving her to have more power. In this movie, Liza dominates over Jeff, and therefore his impotency is displayed.