It’s fascinating to look into the lives of others and see what they’re like, you know? We always do that when we go into people’s houses, or look at the way they dress, the jobs, hobbies, but when you’re alone and can’t get out of your space under certain circumstances, you have to use your imagination. You see the world you could enviously admire, but cannot grasp it. Rear Window is a classic example and uses this analogy.
Windows are constructed objects to look inside from afar, and while it can sometimes be impossible to go within, which is the case for Jimmy Stewart’s Jeff, there are eyes everywhere looking. Plus, what Jeff sees are the things that match his life.
Jeff has been living in his apartment, sitting in a wheelchair with a broken leg. He’s bored during the day and the only activity he does is look out his window at his neighbors and occasionally his girlfriend drops by. Jeff is the kind of guy in an ordinary life as a photographer. Easiest job, but needs the help of his maid, girlfriend, and a detective. As he looks out his window, he sees a dancer, a businessman, a single responsible wife, a music composer, an elderly couple with a dog, and a newly wedded couple who move into the apartment and later undergo some stress. These people, whom Jeff has no relation whatsoever, are metaphors of his life.
When he looks at the blonde bombshell dancer, he conducts his sexual fantasy with her. The business man, before becoming a possible murder suspect, is to let Jeff think about his financial future, being successful and live in the upper class. The Single woman is his divorced wife and the film compares his girlfriend with the single woman across the apartment courtyard and how desperate it can be to live alone. The music composer is like the showbiz side. Instead of taking pictures for a living and keeping the moment in frame, projecting music allows tranquility and live audience. Finally, we see the newly wedded couple moving into the complex and we see the husband smoking a cigarette at the window while his wife calls for him. This shows the arguments Jeff has with his girlfriend. The film takes place in Jeff’s place and we don’t see the other side of where he lives and the courtyard, while beautiful to look at, represents oblivion and where secrets no one are allowed to see, and if they do, the results can be shocking. An example of this would be the dead dog and the flower plants the business man goes to. And when Jeff fights the business man in his apartment and pushes Jeff out of the window, he ends up losing his leg. It’s a close call from falling and breaking his neck, but in order to survive oblivion, you have to give up something as a means to make it through.
Windows are the force fields built onto homes and the they give a preview of the life of a person, but they are there to remind us of our possible future we might have and the things we can never have.