Rear Window

Year: 1954
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr
One of Hitchcock's classics, all the more pertinent in the age of reality TV, where vouyerism has gone high tech and become acceptable - at least commercially.

At its heart, a comment on our intrinsic nature as human beings - to want to see into the lives of other people.

As Jeff (Stewart) becomes more convinced he knows what's going on in the lives of his neighbours, Lisa (Kelly) and Stella more strongly drawn into his musings as their own curiosity gets the better of them.

As such a comment on our nature though, it almost seems that Hitchcock would have made a more successful point of it by providing a perfectly harmless explanation for the whole scenario. It would have proven that Jeff, Lisa and Stella (and indeed us, as it draws us in) have simply let their imaginations get the better of them. Obviously though, he was more interested in wrapping whatever subtext he intended in a simple detective story (albeit one told in a unique and original way).

Laid up with his broken leg in a cast, renowned photographer LB Jeffries is confined to his New York apartment to convalesce. With little else to do, he takes to watching his neighbours across the apartment block yard, believing he gets to know their lives from the hours he spends observing them, even naming them according to their lifestyles.

When he comes to believe the man opposite (Burr) has murdered his wife, Jeff, followed by his prima donna girlfriend Lisa (Kelly) and housekeeper Stella are drawn into a world of vouyerism trying to deduce what's happened from the snippets of information their window watching gives them.

It's one of Hitchcock's classics because of the filmmaking technique - he wasn't the master of suspense for nothing. There's no musical soundtrack except for those songs that appear in the story for whatever reason, and long silences note the passage of time as Jeff stares through his camera lens. Amazingly, you're never once bored - every minute of the running time is used to either ratchet up the tension, give you tantalising new clues or establish facts.

And the whole time, the personalities of the leads and the relationships between them are explored fully, masterfully woven into the mystery at hand.

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