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Rear Window Music Analysis

1032 words (4 pages) Essay in Film Studies

20/07/17 Film Studies Reference this

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Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980), was one of the greatest English filmmakers and producers who not only pioneered many techniques in the psychological thriller genre but also employed more musical styles and techniques than any other directors in history. ‘Rear Window’ was his boldest experiment in popular music. Just like many of Hitchcock’s films, the music is a crucial part of the narrative and one of the many keys of a Hitchcock’s mystery thriller. But it was the unique way that he put the street sounds into the soundtrack and made it in and out of windows and the hero’s dream because of this, it is believed that he found a new role for music in a post-modernistic film set in a post-war era.

In every one Hitchcock’s films, song is intrinsic in opening Hitchcock’s little black humour of human relationship. The song of ‘Lisa’ is the heart of the musical narrative in the ‘Rear Window’. People can see the process of metamorphosis of ‘Lisa’ by the nameless composer through the film. From tentative piano to gradual instrumentation, voice-piano tryouts, improvisation, gradual instrumentation and voice-piano improvisation the metamorphosis. ‘Lisa’ often played against the emotion of the scene highlighting the progress of Lisa’s relationship with Jeff.

In ‘Rear Window’, the window of the nameless composer is in the centre. It created an interesting contrast in the film between the romanticized figure of the tireless composer and the cold but intellectual Jeff. The music drift progressed through the windows, and became an alternate language, sounding the main character’s unconscious thoughts, contradicting them and moving them forward and finally saving Miss Lonely hearts and Lisa from fear of losing love of living.

The first time the composer played, ‘Lisa’ was in a skeletal form as single piano note with Hitchcock when Lisa and Jeff had their first conflict. Lisa comments on the music claiming it was enchanting and seems written especially for them. The conversation was shut immediately by Jeff’s crucial comments that’s no wonder he’s having so much trouble with love. It seems like composer’s creative block applied to Jeff’s difficulties in love with Lisa.

Because ‘Lisa’ often played against the emotion of the scene, the second time ‘Lisa’ was played out again is when Jeff took out his telephoto-lens to watch Thorwald’s unpacking of knives and saws and empties jewelry from his wife’s handbag. But at this time, the music style changes to Lisztian Cadenzas and it continues in a tentative orchestration where Lisa and Stella dig in the courtyard garden for evidence and Lisa bravely breaks into Thorwald’s apartment.

As the musician performed ‘Lisa’ with his musician friends confidently in jazz-combo version, Lisa cried out ‘Jeff!’ but Stella and Jeff could only watch helplessly as Thorwald attacked her in the dark.

Till ‘Lisa’ nearly finished in suavely orchestrated, camera leaved Thorwald’s window, moved down and stocked into miss lonely heart’s apartment. This is the most remarkable scene involving the courtyard digging, Jeff and Stella tensely watch her put down the suicide pill and stared upward thoughtfully, searching for the sources of the music.

At the end of the film, the ‘Lisa’ theme song begins to overpower the ‘Rear Window’ finale; this popular song is triumphantly played through all of the windows; everyone had all kinds of reunions and romances. Miss Lonely Hearts is re-united with her life saving composer. Lisa and Jeff figure their situation out; even the heartbroken dog lovers had a new pet

It is believed that what Miss Lonely Heart did emphasised the relationship between people and music. Although music did not have a source, it did have the first and only instant of an invisible score for life. None of us can adequately explain how strong the influence of music could do to us. Although music as a camera, can allow people to distrust language and to convey a meaning beyond words. As people could see Hitchcock’s characters, like all of us cannot help using some language ,as Lisa said there is that song again.

The song “Lisa” was more complex in structure and functioned differently when it was played in a different style and lyrics, it also offered more detail in Hitchcock’s storytelling. Music is a force that keeps the film’s heroes and heroines in the present; Lisa is empowered by her song in progress.

The music performance in this film is profoundly modern; each song is played out of the windows of people who need them to maintain their connection with life.

The structure of Lisa’s work is fine as many other songs in Hitchcock’s films, however Hitchcock did not appropriate.

It may be because Hitchcock was a grudging romantic with the method of painstaking classicist and the “Lisa” was hard to show the audience the dramatized ambivalence in the conflict between main characters.

Hence Hitchcock later argued Rear Window’s the matic experiment of “Lisa” is a failure. In his letter to Truffaut, he explains what he thought of Waxman’s composition , that he had a motion picture songwriter when he should have had a popular songwriter. This highlights that as passive viewers, Hitchcock seeking manipulation and needing the song strings pulled at just the right moments for maximum impact.

According to Robin Wood, in ‘Rear Window’, every character is isolated. But music provides a mysterious connection with the relationship between people, especially for Lisa and Jeff.

‘Rear Window’ has been referred to be Hitchcock’s most intellectual film. It is a hard hitting, creative work of social comment which Hitchcock and many of his peers considered to be true horror. The music gained the film a great influence on mass culture on the post-war American society. It’s an ode to the idea of the musical composer (and in turn the film director), especially when compared to Jeff, the embodiment of an increasingly wealthy and an indefinitely distracted society.

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