Hi there again!
So we’re back with the 30 Day Movie Challenge, and moving on to day four, it’s all about my favourite classic movie. Before I begin, let me make a friendly plug towards my friend, Rhey of Sunshine’s, awesome blog as she does this challenge alongside me. What I realised from today’s challenge that my definition of classics would probably insult some movie critiques. I at first thought that classics included anything that was just before I was born .. but having been born in the 90s, I am exactly two decades off.
So I decided to stick with the classic definition of a – well – classic, i.e. Classical Hollywood Cinema. This includes films before 1970 that have made a stamp on Hollywood films till today.
For that, I am thankful that I took up a film critique course and other wonderful courses in college that exposed me to such classic works as Casablanca, Vertigo, Battleship Potemkin, Night of the Living Dead and Goodfellas, movies that I would have otherwise been left in the dark from.
From the movies I’ve watched, my favourite has been …
Yes! The classic 1954 Alfred Hitchcock movie of a photographer, L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, who is stuck in a wheelchair with a broken leg in his apartment, passing the time by watching his neighbors from his rear window. One evening, he hears a scream and watches as, what he suspects as a murder, unfolds before his very eyes through the windows of the apartments across from him.
The movie stars the timeless beauty, Grace Kelly, as Lisa, Jeff’s girlfriend. The film was shot entirely at Paramount studios, including an enormous set on one of the soundstages.
I studied this movie alongside the film themes of voyeurism, scopophilia and spectacles; the idea of looking without being looked at – which is the entire lure of cinema, i.e. the audience gets the pleasure of watching events happen from a distance, without the characters aware of their presence.
This is cleverly translated in Rear Window through the framing of different neighbours’ behaviours through their windows. Essentially, they act as different television channels. All Jeff has to do to see something different is alter the angle of his gaze.
I personally loved how neatly tied together the plot was, and how Jeff gets his just desserts for being a voyeur.
It is because of this iconic storyline that Hitchcock’s film (or films in general) is constantly parodied or remade. A modern remake of Rear Window (which I have yet to watch) is Disturbia, starring Transformer‘s Shia LaBeouf.
Personally, my first encounter with the plot of Rear Window came from a Simpson’s spoof episode, Bart of Darkness, where Bart gets a broken leg from falling from his treehouse and is then given a telescope which he proceeds to use to spy on his neighbour, Flanders. He then assumes that Flanders has murdered his wife, Maude, because of the events he sees unfolding from his voyeuristic activities.
Out of all the movies I was made to watch during my film criticism classes, the one movie I’ve kept in my collection is Rear Window, and this solidifies it as my favourite classic movie of all time.
With themes that transcend its time, the idea of surveillance being far too relevant in today’s modern society with the NSA, Google and Nest creeping behind our shoulders, Rear Window has truly immortalised itself in Classic Hollywood Cinema.
Till next time,