Film Question

Learning Goal: I’m working on a film writing question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

THE FIRST PART OF THIS ASSIGNMENT (your discussion of at least 250 words) IS DUE ON SUNDAY, SEPT. 18, AT 11:59 p.m. Commentaries (of at least 100 words each) on two discussions are due two days later, on Tues., Sept. 20.

Late discussions will not be eligible for credit.

If two commentaries are not posted, the discussion assignment will not receive credit.


After reading the required pages in the textbook from Chapter 2 and watching “Widescreen vs. Pan & Scan,” watch Rear Window. Note that the aspect ratio for this film is 1.66:1, wider than that of classical Hollywood film but not as wide as widescreen proper. This is important to remember, for Hitchcock and cinematographer Robert Burks had a little more width to work with when composing each shot’s mise-en-scene. Notice the shape of the frame, and how the filmmakers take advantage of its space.

As you watch the movie, notice the kinds of shots that appear and the choices of colors and lighting in each scene. Choose one of the technical categories (listed below) and write at least 250 words about how it is used throughout Rear Window.

Choose one category:

Types of shots: 1) establishing, 2) long, 3) medium, 4) close-up, and 5) high- and low-angle. All of these shots must be considered and discussed.

Depth of field (deep focus): When do we see foreground and background clearly in focus in the same shot (i.e., when do we see deep focus)? When is the background not in focus (i.e., when do we see shallow focus)?

Lighting of characters, buildings, and objects: low-key, high-key; hard lighting, soft lighting; pictorial, realistic. All of these kinds of lighting must be considered and discussed.

Recurring colors: Where and when do they appear? What are they associated with?

Then answer the following questions:

  • When do these elements appear? Choose representative moments in the film as examples.
  • Why do you think they appear at these moments (i.e., why do you think they were chosen to be used)?
  • What patterns emerge in the use of these elements?
  • What information do these elements give the viewer?
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