Rear Window: Movie Analysis

Rear Window: Movie Analysis
People were always interested in interpreting written stories for the big screen.
Books of all genres: comedies, detective stories, romance novels, and thrillers often
appear before the public as movies. The film Rear Window, produced by Alfred
Hitchcock in 1954, is not an exception. The original short story It Had to Be Murder by
Cornell Woolrich is one of many original works that have been chosen by other directors
to be turned into a film. However, Hitchcock’s movie is considered to be a classic and
an excellent example of a mystery thriller film. While having some similarities, the short
story and the film possess many differences. Hitchcock adds details, scenes, and even
characters to the story, possibly changing its original intentions. This paper examines
how Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Woolrich’s It Had to Be Murder are similar and
different and discusses the effect these changes have on the movie’s tone.
Similarities
The film follows the plot of the story almost entirely, saving the course of actions
from the original. The protagonist of the story, simply called Jeff, is also the same. Most
of the neighbors are in the movie as well. They play significant roles in the plot because
the main character considers them his hobby – he is intrigued by their lives that he
observes through his binoculars. The movie preserves Jeff's obsession with looking in
the windows of others in full. Hitchcock creates a mystery at the same speed as the
original, although the ending scenes vary widely. The beginning of the story is slow, and
Hitchcock portrays it that way, shifting from person to person and showcasing their
everyday life, allowing the audience to see the neighborhood through Jeff’s eyes. The
similarities do not stop here, as both Hitchcock and Woolrich are quite famous for their 
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ability to create tension and instill fear into the audience. However, while both authors
succeed to do it, they achieve their goals differently.
Differences
While using the same idea as Woolrich, Hitchcock adds many details to the plot.
On the one hand, the original story allows the narrator to be hidden and mysterious to
the audience. The readers do not know the reasons behind his situation, as it is not
discussed in the text. His occupation, profession, or social status are also hard to
pinpoint. Jeff is rather isolated throughout the story with only a small number of people
visiting his apartment. The first part of the short story is devoid of dialogue as the
readers are exposed to the protagonist’s thoughts and deductions. On the other hand,
in the movie, the main hero is deprived of this mystery. At the very beginning, the
audience is presented with his backstory, which explains Jeff’s actions and motivations.
Jeff is a photographer. Therefore, he has professional cameras and equipment to peer
into people’s lives. Moreover, Jeff has the professional curiosity to do that. The
audience also sees that he is in a wheelchair. The reasons for that are clear as well.
Jeff takes pictures in dangerous areas. Thus, his leg is broken because of an accident.
Moreover, while the story’s Jeff is alone most of the time, Jeff from the movie is
surrounded by people. He has many respectful friends and a girlfriend, Lisa Fremont,
who visits him often. Her addition can be considered one of the biggest alterations of
the cast, as Lisa becomes his main conversant throughout the movie. Instead of giving
Jeff time to reflect on his thoughts and try to convince himself of his deductions,
Hitchcock puts Lisa in the scene as a person who agrees with the protagonist.
Furthermore, her character can be considered a trope of a young and beautiful but 
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passive woman. According to Modleski (2015), the contrast between actions and
interests of Jeff and Lisa is supposed to make the audience relate to the male character
and agree with his conclusions. The addition of friends that visit Jeff, while he is in a
wheelchair, show him from a different side as well. The end of the adaptation is
completely different from the original. While the short story has an open ending, Rear
Window’s characters solve the mystery and catch the culprit.
The Effect of Changes
Some of the changes made by Hitchcock can be justified by the fact that movies
have to have a visual representation of its characters. If Jeff’s broken leg, photographs,
or cameras are not shown, the audience would have to look at a dark screen for most of
the movie. However, some alterations affect the narrative in a way that could be
avoided if Hitchcock wanted to stay close to the original. In the short story, Jeff’s
solitude allows the audience to step back from his perspective and rationalize the
situation. The readers are expected to question him and his reliability as a narrator. In
the movie, however, the abundance of dialogue leaves the audience no choice but to
agree with the  


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