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New York (2000) - Through a Glass Darkly




Through a Glass Darkly

That notorious Peeping Tom returns in a restored print of "Rear Window"

Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, which is being re-released at the Film Forum in a marvelously restored print supervised by Robert Harris and James Katz, features James Stewart as the cinema's most famous Peeping Tom and is often described as the ultimate movie about voyeurism. Since watching a movie is, in itself, a form of voyeurism, Hitchcock's film has also been called the ultimate movie about moviegoing. There may be some truth to this, but, like so much academic Hitchcock criticism, it doesn't really describe our feelings when we watch the movie; it doesn't convey our sheer enjoyment.

For much of his career, Hitchcock was categorized as a "mere" entertainer -- the master of suspense. Then along came the Cahiers du Cinema crowd and the Brits to tell us that Hitchcock was the supreme Catholic artist for our age of anxiety and a rival to Poe and Baudelaire. This revisionism was, I think, overscaled, but I remain sympathetic to its intent; more riches, after all, are camouflaged by popular entertainment than by most of what passes for high art. With Hitchcock there was always, even in his most minor entertainments, a residue of fear, of dread, that was more expressive and unsettling than, strictly speaking, it needed to be. Perhaps more than any other director, Hitchcock controlled down to the minutest detail the environment of his moviescape; and yet the great theme of his best movies is the horror visited upon us by a loss of control. The extreme ...