Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The View from the Rear Window

The sheet we were handed in class last week has a short blurb on P.O.V. that asks the question "are there techniques of expressionism or subjective distortions [in the film]?" I haven't seen too many films where there are obvious examples of this type of distortion, but
Rear Window sure does have it in droves.

Through the use of lenses (from Jefferies' camera and binoculars), Hitchcock distorts the "naturalistic" P.O.V. tendencies of most films, at least in the technical sense. I use the word "naturalistic" lightly of course, but for the most part, I've only seen films where the P.O.V. is normal, with no framing like those lens-framed shots in
Rear Window were. It's irregular, though not incredibly interesting visually. But what it affords Jefferies and the movie's audience is remarkable. A closer view, greater detail, new possibilities for the plot. We discussed this in class, so maybe I shouldn't get too redundant. But even the small amount of visual freedom the distorted P.O.V.s create can translate to a ton of payoff in a film.

I suppose this is all hypothetical, because it's not like Jefferies wasn't going to get this change of P.O.V.... it was written into the screenplay after all.
But I'm trying to approach this from within the movie's logic. Notice how the binoculars are the highlight of this poster advertisement for the movie:

And as discussed in class, there is the infamous shot of Jefferies with the camera lens sitting atop his knee, pointed outside and reflecting. Pretty cool how a couple of seemingly minor props can make a movie what it is in the public's consciousness.

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