The Lesser Female Presence
Men and women will never be on the same level. Men have always been perceived as
the 'bearer of the house' and thus, always are given the upper hand in situations. Laura Mulvey, a film theorist and
feminist, explores this societal rule in film, explaining that men are the main focal points of a movie's storyline, while
the women are just placed there to look good an be looked at. Alfred Hitchcock's movie Rear Window (1955) is
a perfect example of Mulvey's chauvinistic views, exploring the difficult relationship between L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart)
and Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly), as Jeffries thinks he has become the witness to a murder. Their on-going debate over
the status of their relationship lets Hitchcock show the audience how their arguments tend to portray Lisa as the troublemaker,
adding to Mulvey's theory that she doesn't add much to the film and instead slows it down with her annoying neediness from
Jeffries. Using sharp editing skills, focused lighting, and orchestrated shots, Hitchcock illustrates Mulvey's theory
through the tension of a beautiful girlfriend and a commitment-phobe boyfriend and Lisa's presence as a nagging beauty.
When Lisa is first introduced in the film, she has already been talked about by Jeffries,
so the audience already has a preconceived notion of her. The first shot of her is a close-up by Hitchcock, who then
lets her come up even closer to the camera as if she is coming closer to the sleeping body of her boyfriend, Jeffries.
As she leans in for a kiss, Hitchcock slows down the speed, as if Lisa is just slowing down the progression of the story as
Mulvey describes. Lisa's few first moments of introduction without any talking lets viewers enjoy the beauty of Lisa,
without having to worry about anything else going on in the storyline at the time. But she is definitely seen as a distraction
as she begins to light up the room, a metaphorical action of her exposing Jeffries' little fantasy world of voyeurism and
bringing him back to his own reality of woes and troubles, including their relationship. As she is finished lighting
up the room, she stands in a long shot that portrays her as a model, posing for the camera, or in this case, the audience.
Hitchcock shines a spotlight on her to focus even more attention on her, as her presence is one that shouldn't be missed,
due to its stunning appearance. Later on, as she has some wine and lobster delivered, she ironically sits in front of
the window that Jeffries has been spying out of for the last couple of days. Behind her, the constant action of the
neighborhood can be seen and the temptation to look at the interesting storyline that takes place in the neighborhood begins.
Lisa is shown as an interference, sitting right in front of where all the action takes place, leading a slightly bothered
Jeffries to look mildly interested as Lisa describes her recent work in modeling. Her interruption to Jeffries' little
fantasy world is felt by the audience, who already has connected with Jeffries after seeing everything through his eyes.
Part of Mulvey's theory is that the woman in the story is portrayed as just some sexual object, dehumanizing her. Lisa
is portrayed this way due to the fact that no one really cares about what she is talking about, but would rather just look
at her beauty in the distance as Jeffries has been doing with his unsuspecting neighbors. As Lisa begs Jeffries to quit
his job, her persistence comes across as nagging which Jeffries won't seem to take, brushing her off with the cold shoulder
as he says, "Let's stop talking nonsense, shall we, hmmm?" as the camera shows a hurt Lisa. Lisa's nagging comes through
as that of what a stereotypical wife tends to do so often to the poor, berated husband. Mulvey only describes women
as sexual objects of desire, a spectacle, to the human eye. Therefore, Lisa easily comes across as the annoyance due
to the fact that she is not using her sexuality to get attention, but rather her need to be wanted and loved by Jeffries.
Such a human act defies what has been shown of her-a beautiful body, face-it's as if nothing else wants to be shown for fact
that it might take away the fantasy quality of Lisa from the audience. Instead of allowing Lisa to open up and develop
as a character, Hitchcock only lets her reach the point of where she only shows her longingness for Jeffries. Such a
stance helps set up Mulvey's theory that Lisa is a character that adds no depth to the plot, but rather a beautiful face that
often times makes her looks like a pestering wife.
Mulvey's theory can seem exaggerated and grossly false, but with a movie such as Rear
Window to back it up, it just ends up looking more like an unarguable theory. Having such a character as Lisa, it
brilliantly proves the point that she is an objectified female who makes the audience swoon without even having to say a word.
Hitchcock's masterful timing of scenes and shots adds to Lisa's glamorous effect on the audience in the beginning, but once
she begins to talk of Jeffries settling down with her, the fear of her turning into another typical, annoying wife starts
to settle. Men will always be perceived as the big, honcho hero in movies and women as the quiet, off-to-the-side counterparts.
It's as if a woman does begin to talk, she is annoying and not useful and she is better off not doing anything at all, but
rather shutting up and looking pretty. This is just one of many problems of society today taht is able to be depicted
back through film and send a message to watchful viewers.