Suspense in the film ‘Rear Window’ Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

 Image result for rear window imagesFor Mainstream English Year 12 students studying the film Rear Window Directed by Alfred Hitchcock for AOS1: Unit 3, Reading and Creating Texts, Analytical Response Outcome.  See below some of the suspense scenes along with film techniques to help when you write your Analytical Response Essays.

The question is “How does Hitchcock create suspense in the film Rear Window?”

Thorwald’s suspicious actions / limited information / close up / camera dissolves into black

Chapter 7 – Jeff wakes to the sound of thunder and rain / early hours of morning

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Jeff watches Thorwald leave in the rain with a suitcase / close up of his watch reveals it is 1.55 am / its early hours of the morning / Thorwald leaves the lights on inside his apartment but the blinds remain down / Thorwald walks down the street, the darkness of the alley he enters raises the sense of suspense / we want to know why Thorwald is acting suspicious / Hitchcock has purposely limited our information by confining our point of view to that of Jeff / Hitchcock has drawn us into to participating through intellectual participation / This builds the suspense and engages us more in the film and particularly what Thorwald is doing / Later a close up of Jeff’s watch tells us it is 2.35 am when Thorwald returns with his case / Thorwald goes out again and returns as the buildings dissolve into black / Jeff struggles to stay awake and finally he is asleep / The audience but not Jeff sees Thorwald leave carrying a suitcase leading a woman who is dressed in a black hat and coat leave the apartment

Lisa searching for clues in Thorwald’s apartment / parallel editing / cross-cutting / cinematography / sound / close-ups / point of view shot

Chapter 15 – Lisa’s risk to prove herself to Jeff / Miss Lonelyhearts attempted suicide / Thorwald’s impending threat

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Lisa has climbed up the fire escape onto a balcony and into Thorwald’s apartment via a window / She is rummaging through Thorwald’s apartment trying to search for clues / In this scene we have two views from Jeff’s point of view / One of these is Lisa searching the apartment and another of the hallway leading to Thorwald’s apartment / Thorwald had previously left the apartment after Jeff making a fake phone call to Thorwald telling him to meet him in a restaurant / Lisa finds Mrs Thorwald’s wedding ring / As we see this, we also see Thorwald coming up the hallway towards his apartment and we know that neither one knows the other is on the opposite side of the door / This captures the perfect parallel editing while building up suspense / We are helpless as an audience to helping Lisa / Jeff is watching in panic / Cross-cutting between Lisa’s search and Jeff’s agitated response heightens the suspense /

The drama also unfolds in Miss Lonelyhearts apartment as she writes her suicide note / cinematography shows both floors at the same time / Sound of music from the songwriter’s ‘Lisa’ ballad stops both Lisa momentarily from impending danger from Thorwald and Miss Lonelyhearts is distracted /

Thorwald then attacks Lisa / close up of Jeff’s anguished face as he watches helplessly / Lisa shows Jeff the ring behind her back / Thorwald realises he is being watched / Chilling point of view shot he looks directly at Jeff / Jeff tells Stella to “turn out the lights” in the apartment / The audience is warned of the threat Thorwald poses

Jeff waiting for Thorwald to enter his apartment / cross cutting /cinematography / close ups / high angle shot / sounds of footsteps & struggle

Chapter 16 – climax of the film

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Jeff does not know what Thorwald is doing and then suddenly Jeff’s phone rings / Jeff answers the phone and there is no sound on the end / the absence of sound builds up even more suspense / camera zooms into close up of Jeff’s face, eyes darting with horror / high angle shot as Jeff twists his face, before pivoting to face the door, highlights his vulnerability / Jeff is waiting helpless and immobile in his apartment / The camera cross cuts back and forth between Thorwald who is slowly getting closer to Jeff while Jeff is waiting as suspense builds / Jeff hears loud footsteps on the stairs, seconds later, the light under the door goes out / Jeff is fully a participant in the drama rather just a spectator /

Thorwald enters the dark apartment and asks Jeff “What do you want from me?” / the camera pans back and forward from Thorwald to Jeff as Thorwald continues to demand what Jeff wants & asking for Jeff to “get the ring back” / Jeff explains he can’t because “the Police have it by now” / Thorwald knocks over a chair and tries to lunge at Jeff and is temporarily blinded by exploding flash bulbs / The white light followed by a dull red circle expands the fill the frame / Thorwald’s final lunge at Jeff is filmed from below emphasising the mortal threat he presents to the defenceless Jeff / Jeff looks over at the window and yells to Lisa and Doyle to attract their attention to his predicament / sounds of struggle with Thorwald trying to strangle Jeff /

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As Jeff hangs from the balcony conveys the urgency of the situation / Camera cuts from Jeff struggling with Thorwald to shocked response of neighbours who come out of their apartments to see what’s going on / Police rush to the rescue as Doyle, Lisa and Stella run down to the courtyard / The Police grab Thorwald off Jeff / Jeff’s fall from the balcony is filmed with a high angle shot / Jeff hits the ground but he smiles with pride at Lisa protectively cradles his head in her lap / Jeff says to Lisa “Gee I’m proud of you” foreshadowing the start of a new chapter for them

All Resources created by Online Tutoring using Zoom for Mainstream English Students in the Victorian Curriculum