“… an undeniable classic, but not a movie I can stomach in its entirety.”
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window is a cinematic masterpiece. There is not one person in the world, including myself, that won’t praise it for all that it has achieved. The amazing set design and creation, the brilliant build-up of tension, and of course the unforgettable release of that tension which leaves you glued to the edge of your seat during the film’s final twenty-or-so minutes; but that’s not what I’m going to talk about.
Rear Window is one of those movies that everyone knows, even in passing. Most likely due to the film’s status in pop culture, every single person who knows about movies knows at least the basic plot. A photographer is wheelchair-bound after and accident, and spies what he thinks is a murder while watching his neighbours to pass the time. That’s the story. it has been referenced and parodied and remade throughout the years, and due to that fact it has wormed its way into the general subconscious. I remember watching Rear Window when I was younger, but what I don’t remember is just how fucking boring it is.
Rear Window is a movie about a guy in a wheelchair who watches his neighbours. That’s literally the plot. For almost two hours you watch a guy watch other people. “But there’s mystery!” I can hear you say; no, there isn’t. Here’s what happens: Our main character sees a husband and wife who don’t have the best relationship. He sees the husband leave early one morning, and then come back shortly after. Then he falls asleep. When he awakes he sees that the wife isn’t in the apartment anymore. He assumes she was killed. So the entirety of Rear Window is based on an outlandish accusation of a photographer with cabin fever.
This could have been an interesting angle: Jimmy Stewart growing more and more obsessed with the neighbour while everyone around him begins to seriously worry about his mental health having been trapped in his apartment for such a long time; but that doesn’t happen. Sure, in theory those things happen, but on the outside they are a lot more casual. Jimmy Stewart (our main character) says “She was killed”, another character, doesn’t matter which one, responds “No she wasn’t”. That’s the movie, albeit interspersed with more shots of a young woman dancing, but that’s the long and short of it. Absolutely no suspense is built because nobody fucking cares.
What makes this even worse is that by the end of the movie our main character has garnered a small following consisting of his girlfriend, and his home nurse. This removes the possibility of him spiralling out of control (something that would have been interesting to see) because now he has an outlet. Instead of feeling as though he isn’t being heard, thus leading to dangerous consequences, he instead feels that his detective friend is an idiot. This isn’t a fucking movie. If I wanted to watch a bunch of people do mundane shit for prolonged periods of time I would stick to arthouse films.
Once again I will reiterate that the ending of the movie is phenomenal. The tension built in such a short amount of time was stunning. I also want to point out that the compliments I gave the film during my opening are genuinely my opinions about Rear Window. It’s a well-made movie, but there just isn’t much to it. I feel that Alfred Hitchcock wanted to emphasize that scary shit can happen in your own backyard, and he wanted to make that point all the more apparent by highlighting how mundane normal life is, but he overdid it my opinion. That same point could have been made without making me want to jump out of a window.
Overall Rear Window is an undeniable classic, but not a movie I can stomach in its entirety.
I give Rear Window a C