The greatness of Hitchcock's Rear Window
I consider it Hitchcock's best, with The Lady Vanishes not far behind, and in my own personal cinematic pantheon it's up in the realm of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, Kieslowski's The Decalogue (a made-for-Polish-TV ten-parter that I prefer to consider a single film for these purposes), Ozu's Floating Weeds, Lumet's Network, and Allen's Annie Hall and Manhattan, along with others like Girard's 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, Lang's M, Kurosawa's Ran, Altman's Nashville, Watkins's Edvard Munch, Wenders's Wings of Desire, and, yes, Crowe's Almost Famous, and, if we're talking about personal favourites and not just about historically great films, Back to the Future and maybe even Ghostbusters, among others.
Anyway, let's just say I love Rear Window. It may be about a murder, and the investigation thereof, but it's also one of those warm and wonderful movies I can watch over and over again, a movie I can sink into and wrap myself up in, a movie I can watch wide awake with rapt attention or lying down, late at night, with one eye open as I'm drifting off to sleep. There are times I've just listened to it, knowing it so well. What I love so much is being in that closed environment with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, in that courtyard, looking out the window, watching humanity in all its complexity, from the mundane to the horrific. It's so brilliantly done that it, and it alone, is enough to confirm Hitchcock's greatness as a filmmaker.
You may have seen this already, as it was posted at The Atlantic last month (originally at Vimeo, though it was recently taken down, apparently for idiotic copyright infringement reasons), but a guy named Jeff Desom has made, as The Atlantic put it, a "meticulous remix of Hitchcock's iconic 1954 thriller [that] retraces the film's events in chronological order." As Desom explains at his site:
I dissected all of Hitchcock's Rear Window and stiched it back together in After Effects. I stabilized all the shots with camera movement in them. Since everything was filmed from pretty much the same angle I was able to match them into a single panoramic view of the entire backyard without any greater distortions. The order of events stays true to the movie's plot.
The Atlantic notes that "[t]he video is actually intended to be displayed as an installation of three projectors, at a full resolution of 2400 by 550 pixels," but it's still pretty impressive as a simple clip. And thankfully it's still available at YouTube, if not Vimeo.
Here it is. (Watch it on full screen.) Enjoy. (And if you've never seen Rear Window... seriously, there's no excuse.)