Hitchcock, "Rear Window" (film)


Although Alfred Hitchcock’s "Rear Window" (1954) does not take place in the context of a plague, it is a film about being in lockdown. Its preoccupations may be subtly shaped by the context of the early 1950s which saw Americans return to ordinary domestic life after the upheavals and mobilizations of the war. The premise of the film is simple - a leg injury confines a photographer to his Manhattan apartment and he breaks the monotony by obsessively observing his neighbors. However, the film works on several levels: literal, psychological, symbolic. It explores what happens to our minds when we are cut off from the world outside the home, when the only travel we can undertake is internal, and when our own thoughts end up projecting themselves onto our surroundings.

Background: Domestic Lockdown in the 1950s

Presented by Barry McCrea

How “Rear Window” uses the predicament of being suddenly confined to the home as a framework for exploring broader questions.

Run time: 6 minutes

The Narrative System of "Rear Window"

Presented by Barry McCrea

How the film constructs its plot and employs subtle visual effects to evoke certain uncanny feelings in the viewer, and how these feelings are part of the film’s meaning.

Run time: 9 minutes

"Rear Window" as a landscape of the mind

Presented by Barry McCrea

An interpretation of the psychological undercurrents running through the film, and what they suggest we can learn from life in lockdown.

Run time: 8 minutes

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Presented by Barry McCrea

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Featured Speakers:

  • Susan Ohmer, The William T. and Helen Kuhn Carey Associate Professor of Modern Communication, University of Notre Dame
  • Kieron Webb, Head of Conservation, British Film Institute
  • Rev. Jim Lies C.S.C., Director for Academic Initiatives & Partnerships, University of Notre Dame, London, England

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Prepare for next week

Presented by Barry McCrea

Read Camus, “The Plague”

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