One of the most important visual elements of Rear Window is Hitchcock's use of the window itself. From the opening credits of the film, the window frames the world outside Jeff's apartment. Each of the neighbors that Jeff spies on are also framed by their windows, creating dozens of tiny little frames; each one is its own microcosm. In addition, Hitchcock uses the frame of the binoculars and Jeff's camera to draw the viewer's attention to certain people and occurrences. Thus, there is always some kind of device separating Jeff and the viewer from the action, which is one of the ways in which Hitchcock implicates his audience in Jeff's voyeurism.
Diegetic Sound (Auditory Imagery)
Hitchcock made the stylistic decision for Rear Window not to have a formal score. All of the sound in the film is diegetic, meaning that the source of the sound is visible on the screen or somehow implied to be part of the world we are watching. While this choice takes away part of what the audience expects from a film-viewing experience, a score also always reminds us that we're watching a film. By using diegetic sound, Hitchcock further involves the audience in Jeff's world.
The Heat (Kinesthetic Imagery)
One of the reasons that Jeff is able to watch all of his neighbors is because they all have their windows open due to the sweltering heat, and Hitchcock makes sure that his audience feels the humid climate as well. Within the first five minutes of the film, Hitchcock gives us a closeup of Jeff's thermometer and then moves on to Jeff's sweaty face. The couple upstairs actually sleeps on their fire escape. Miss Torso barely wears any clothing. All of these visual elements contribute to making the audience feel the stifling environment that Hitchcock is evoking onscreen.
Jeff's Discomfort (Kinesthetic Imagery)
In order to align the viewer with Jeff's discomfort, Hitchcock includes images of Jimmy Stewart trying to get his backscratcher into his cast and then his subsequent relief when he's able to scratch his itchy leg. Details like this help the viewer sympathize with Jeff's plight and understand his desperation to be mobile once more.
Rear Window Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Rear Window is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.