Select one scene or sequence from Rear Window and discuss how Hitchcock used mise-en-scene to create suspense in that scene or sequence. Describe the scene. How was it framed? Where were the characters placed in relation to the camera and to each other? Was it open or closed framed? Was there music or other sound effects? How did all these elements come together to create suspense (or humor, or fear, or sadness, etc)?
The scene that came immediately to my mind after reading this discussion question was the scene where the girls hunt around for evidence of Hanna Thornwell. Lisa has enters into the apartment, after no luck searching in the garden, through the window and begins searching there. The closed frame shot, taken from afar, as if from Jeffs point of view. Their are no sounds effects in the scene just the soft music being played the band in another apartment. Together all these elements heightened the anxiety being experienced by Jeff and Stella, as well as the fear being experienced by Lisa.
- Discuss the sound design in the film. How did the score create mood? Give examples of scenes and explain how the mood would have changed with a different score.
- Discuss the pacing of this film. How does the pacing create tension? Give examples.
- Hitchcock often uses a plot device called a "macguffin." Was there a macguffin in this film? What is a macguffin? Explain this in your own words.
- In Rear Window, there is very little sound due to the distance that Jeff is away from everybody else. There was music played in another apartment that was heard and even distracted Lids while she was in Thornwell's apartment. With a different score like the one in Birds, for example, would have taken all intimacy out of the film.
- The pacing for Rear Window is very slow. The tension is created by slowly giving us hints and clues to everyones story but no full details until the end when everyone is revealed. For example, there are clues about Thornwell killing his wife but we aren't sure until he is attack Jeff so it doesn't get out.
- Thornwell's wife's wedding ring is the macguffin in Rear Window because she wouldn't take it off for any reason. A macguffin is an object in a film the drives the action. For example, in Back To The Future, part II, the sports almanac is the macguffin because all action is to recover it from Biff before he uses it.