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Date Created: 08/22/16
Smith1 Sarahana Smith April 18, 2016 First Paper Assignment TFILM272 Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) was an excellent example for demonstrating the Hollywood Paradigm. The Classical Hollywood Paradigm follows the “order, order disturbed, order restored” story format that audiences almost expect from movies. The main tension lies in the fact that Jefferies is unable to get around on his own because he’s been handicapped. In this case, being immobile is a huge obstacle that stands in the way of his bringing justice to the neighborhood. As the Classical Hollywood Paradigm follows, the economy relates to Jefferies life. It’s incomplete, and Stella points it out from the very beginning. He refuses to settle down or commit to any one thing, and he uses his occupation as an excuse to accept love from his girlfriend, Lisa. Each of the windows symbolize a different aspect in his life that he either longs for, rejects, or fears, and so his life remains still. A perfect example of this would be the scene when Lisa is pushing him to commit and willing to change just so they can be together, then gives up for the night. As she’s walking out she says she won’t see him for a long time, to which he responds with an almost desperate plead. He asks if they couldn’t just remain “status quo” which would allow his life to remain still, just as he prefers it. Smith2 The centering of the protagonist in the Classical Hollywood Paradigm aligns with the beginning of the movie. When the movie introduces the characters, the audience is meant to assume Jefferies to be the hero, especially after his displays his macho persona while talking down Lisa and portraying her as some defenseless, helpless, materialistic bimbo who has no depth to her personality. However, the movie takes a slightly eccentric route (especially for the era in filmmaking and in general) when Lisa ends up doing his dirty work, proving that she’s more than capable of handling his adventurous lifestyle. The style is known for “creating the couple” which often results in marriage. Though the end of the movie displays that they are clearly codependent, where their relationship goes is left up for the audience to interpret. Closure, according to the Classical Hollywood Paradigm, generally ties up all loose ends. In my opinion, Rear Window does a fantastic job of depicting this classic aspect of filmmaking, as the ending responds to the beginning. The beginning introduces Jefferies with one broken leg, miserable because he’s shackled within the walls of his home, where he’s forced to face his girlfriend and discuss their relationship issues. The end displays Jefferies making peace and overcoming his fears, admitting his inevitable decision to move his relationship forward, happier than before, all while still stuck in his home, but this time with two broken legs. The “pleasure” in watching the complete film product is evoked by the powerful emotions in the story that we all relate with— the relationship conflicts, the murdered dog, and the fear that accumulates from the tense, drawn out, climactic hunt where Thorwald catches first onto Lisa’s stunt, and then further discovers the handicapped Jefferies. In my opinion, the transparency throughout the movie fully meet the guidelines of the Classical Hollywood Smith3 Paradigm. Although all signs point to Thorwald, the audience sees him leaving with “a woman,” however we’re still positively insisting that something isn’t right. Seeing the woman on the screen, along with the lack of visual evidence of the crime, should have made a solid case for Thorwald, but there’s still a hunch. So although we have all this information, we still root for Jefferies to bring justice to the deceased Mrs. Thorwald. To wrap up demonstration of Classical Hollywood Paradigm through Rear Window, the hierarchy of discourses is totally defeated. According to the format, this implies that the characters in the movie are capable of deceit, but within the image of the film (visual evidence) is where the truth lies. The movie totally conquers this aspect, as Thorwald (character) lies about his “wife” leaving. However, the though the images support his claim, the image does establish the lie when we’re falsely led to assume that the woman he left was indeed Mrs. Thorwald. The movie counters that aspect of the Classical Hollywood Paradigm completely and proves that images can also be deceitful. The overall synopsis of Rear Window matches Classical Hollywood Paradigm criteria— the general pattern of order, order disturbed, order restored, along with most of the details within. (Order) Jefferies refuses to take the next step in his relationship with Lisa, because he doesn’t want to change his ways for her, even after she suggests either one of them conforming for love. (Order disturbed) When discussing their relationship, Lisa clearly wants to work it out and take the next step, and even though he constantly complains about her and searches for reasons for them to not move forward, he asks if they could just remain status quo, which accentuates his Smith4 preference to remain in a still life, not moving forward, but still not cutting it off. He fears change, and is unable to commit to either of those options. The windows he obsesses over demonstrate unique household themes, all of which suggest the risks/outcomes of the decisions he’s been struggling to address (as he desperately attempts to preserve the initial state of his life. If he goes down the newlyweds’ (window 1) route, the nagging wife (window 2) manifests shortly after. If he leaves for work, it leaves Lisa in a similar position as (window 3) the dancer. If he cuts things off with Lisa, the possibility of being alone (window 4) like “Ms. Lonelyheart” is proposed. The only window with an option that he fails to see and study intently, is the window of his own home. Now in The Bicycle Thief (1948) we see the Neorealism film movement paving the way for other aspiring filmmakers to grasp the reality of the world. The movie totally puts the classical film format to sleep while we dive into the world beyond Hollywood magic. The beginning sets the tone for the era and the depression that has overwhelmed the entirety of the society. This movie differs from the classic format that movie goers expect, demonstrated in Rear Window. People are made to expect the protagonists to fulfill their dreams or overcome their obstacles in the end, because this is what we as viewers hope for our own lives. We put ourselves into the shoes of the characters we are watching, which forces us to create connections with and become attached to them. As we relate to their lives, we end up rooting for them. As Neorealism shows us the reality of life, even in filmmaking, sometimes the truth is cold and harsh, opposed Smith5 to how Hollywood depicts “life.” The Bicycle Thief does a fabulous job at doing just what Neorealism did to the filmmaking world. As we discussed in class, the film is a cinema of “war time liberation hope and postwar despair and disappointment” with a strong emphasis on the disappointment aspect. Neorealism defies the fantasy and escapism of classic Hollywood films. The movie builds us up and then does a brutally heart crushing job of conquering all our hopes for the protagonist. The beginning opens up with hope as Antonio was able to snag a job during these difficult times, but things were starting to look up for him. They really stress the importance of his bicycle in order to show how much his success really relies on it. In this, the audience is able to understand the disparity of the era and the harsh reality of their circumstances. From the beginning, we know that his life is not any more difficult than the majority because we see that everyone else has already turned in their linens. We continue to see the shared struggle of the community throughout the movie— when he’s deprived of the convenience which his bicycle brought to him, he was forced to catch the bus, just like everyone else. The amount of people within the crowd enhances the idea that they’re all in the same boat. The length of the line versus the availability of seats in the buses is outrageous, but it shows the audience that he’s no more or less entitled to the luxury of having a bicycle than the rest of them. Though the classic Hollywood style has set up a schema on which audiences form certain expectations for films, The Bicycle Thief shoots our hopes down by crushing the protagonist’s soul, defeating the purpose of the entire plot that is the search for his bicycle. We expect him to be reunited with his handy transportation, and for order to be restored. The movie keeps us at the Smith6 edge of our seats for the entire half end, watching and waiting, thinking “any minute now,” for the moment that restores order. This continues all the way up through the ending, where we’re left with nothing more than disappointment. Closure is not delivered and justice does not exist. It’s a wonderful movie, but the moment when you realize “that’s life” really weighs on your soul. It puts a real damper on your outlook on life, as we’re forced to accept reality. Hollywood fantasies and escapism create these beautiful films and expectations for life, but what it really does is propose options that we don’t and possibly never will have. Of course I’m going to prefer Rear Window over The Bicycle Thief because it lives up to the classic Hollywood happy ending. Everyone wants to believe in happy endings, because it’s like mental insurance. It guarantees that the idea of everything being “good” or ending well. It implies that in the end, no loose ends will be left untied. It promises that everything that we hope for in life is not only attainable, but simplified. This is simply the work of Hollywood providing false hope for audiences. But they tend to immaculately hide all the fact that it’s just not reality. I’ll buy into that over facing the cruel reality of life any day!
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