How Hitchcock Makes Voyeurs of the Audience in ‘Rear Window’

You’re not just watching a movie, you’re also watching yourself.

You’re not just watching a movie, you’re also watching yourself.

Alfred Hitchcock has a real knack for drawing viewers into the psychological state of his protagonists, from the insanity of Norman Bates, to the trauma of Scotty Ferguson, to the paranoia of Roger Thornhill. Through his use of perspective, camera techniques, and the general way he creates the worlds of his film, Hitch is making us more than mere viewers, he’s making us passive participants, he is creating a kinship between our personal experiences and the experiences unfolding onscreen by latching onto universal emotional responses.

But in Rear Window, his 1954 masterpiece of voyeurism, Hitch is doing more than just including us in the obsessive mindset of protagonist L.B. Jeffries, he is critiquing us for the very act of watching, holding a mirror up to a culture itself obsessed with spying into the private lives of others.

In the following video essay from Matt Draper, how Hitch accomplishes all this is examined in erudite detail that includes a look at camera movement, set design, and shot selection. It’s a great example of how the films of Alfred Hitchcock, always psychological in their narratives, are also psychological in their construction.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist