Trailer for Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, 1954
Released in 1954 by Paramount Pictures, Rear Window is a psychological thriller that was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is the story of L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies (played by James Stewart), a photojournalist who is confined to a wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment and to alleviate his sense of boredom, he begins to spy on his neighbors from his courtyard window with his camera and telephoto lens. During his daily acts of surveillance and voyeurism, he believes a murder has taken place by his neighbor, Lars Thorwald (played by Raymond Burr), in an apartment across the courtyard and tries to convince his girlfriend, Lisa Fremont (played by Grace Kelly) as well as the police of his suspicions. In addition to being a murder mystery, Rear Window explores the nature and ethics of voyeurism in relationship to the role and function of photography as a means of surveillance to watch others.
Rear Window received four Academy of Awards in 1995 for Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock), Best Writing, Screenplay (John Michael Hayes), Best Cinematography, Color (Robert Burks) and Best Sound, Recording (Loren Ryder).
With Rear Window in mind and the prevalence of paparazzi photography, consider photographys’ relationship to voyeurism and as a device of surveillance within your own photographic practice. Do you consider yourself a voyeur as you bring the camera to your eye and gaze through the viewfinder? What do you believe should be the ethical standards that should be practiced by a photographer working within a public context?