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Rear Window review

To complete the Hitchcock Centenary celebrations, Universal has thoughtfully released a newly restored print of one of the Master's most enthralling films. James Stewart plays the freelance photographer holed up in his Greenwich Village apartment, nursing a broken leg sustained on a work assignment. Visited by his no-nonsense nurse (Ritter) and his fashion-model girlfriend (Grace Kelly at her most intoxicating), he whiles away the hours by watching the goings-on in the courtyard opposite with a pair of binoculars. And soon he becomes convinced that one of his neighbours - - Thorwald (Burr) - - has brutally murdered his invalid wife...

Disguised as a comedy-thriller, Rear Window serves as a meditation on voyeurism and film spectatorship, for like the immobilised central character, the viewer is trapped in a restricted space and forced to sit and watch other people's lives from a distance. As Ritter's character exclaims: ""We've become a nation of Peeping Toms. People ought to get outside and look in at themselves"."

A strangely dream-like quality pervades Rear Window, with its frequent fades, the repeated shots of a slumbering Stewart, and the implication that what's happening up on screen is merely the projection of the protagonist's anxieties about romantic relationships. Everything from the masterly opening sequence to the ambiguous final shot indicates that this is the work of a prodigiously talented director.

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Available platformsMovie