The opening of "Rear Window" is very traditional, literally a curtain raiser for the film. The genre and narrative strands that are introduced, however, are not quite as clear as we might expect from our prior expectations of a Hitchcock thriller. This essay will examine how the opening introduces the audience to the world of the courtyard and the main characters in a way that suggests that the predominant genre of the film may be romantic comedy, and that the main narrative thread may be the relationship between Lisa and Jeffries, rather than the thriller which is subsequently played out.
As is always the case, the audience comes to the film with certain prior knowledge and expectations, and in this case these provide an interesting conflict between the film suggested by the opening, and the film as a whole. The title is quite ambiguous. It gives us information about setting but very little generic or narrative information, when compared to Psycho for example.
The audience therefore might well be expecting to see another Hitchcock thriller, as Hitchcock is associated generically almost exclusively with Thrillers, Mystery and Horror.
The opening credits of the film reinforce expectations of a traditional narrative and genre piece. It is a very theatrical opening, as the blinds being raised appear very similar to curtains on a stage. There are very clear, traditionally organized opening credits, suggesting traditional use of narrative and genre. But the titles remind the audience of the director and the stars, and the generic and narrative baggage they carry with them. The opening therefore reinforces the audiences' slightly mixed prior expectations and serves as an introduction to the setting for the film.
The opening scene is a clear introduction to the world of the film, using the conventions of a number...