Friday, February 26, 2010

Movie Musings

The other night, I watched "Rear Window" again. You could almost say it was for research, as I plan to use it in a story I'm trying to work out.

I often watch movies for inspiration. Not only do they give me ideas, they give me a creative feeling. Watching a really good movie is a surefire way to get me thinking. They make me want to do something, to make something that can make you feel the way the movie made me feel.

So I was watching "Rear Window" because I plan to create a character who is very inspired by this movie, but while I was watching, I got distracted by the movie.

You go along, always knowing in your head that Alfred Hitchcock is great. Anytime someone says, 'Oh, I saw "The Man Who Knew Too Much" last night, and it was so good!' you are never surprised.

Then you watch a Hitchcock movie and still, it surprises you!

The first thing that really strikes me about "Rear Window" is the hundreds of little stories embedded in the main one. L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries is watching the neighbors from his window, and soon thinks that one of them has murdered his wife. But while he's keeping an eye on this suspicious neighbor, he also sees many others: a sad woman deals with her loneliness, a young married couple slips out of newlywed bliss, a lonely composer puts on a show, a ballerina tries to figure out what she wants, and more.

The second thing that struck me is the music - or rather, lack of it, as there is almost no soundtrack. There is only one part with a bit of music. Other than that, all of the music comes from the narrative of the film itself - the Dean Martin song on the lonely woman's radio, the composer plunking away at his piano or his party singing "Mona Lisa". And this music fits in perfectly with other musical sounds - humming city sounds, rhythmic rain, dogs barking and casual conversation, doors opening and shutting, all drifting around a courtyard and making the soundtrack.

Conclusion: music, especially in movies, is often overused (but that's nothing new). Also, a lot of small narratives can, in some cases, make a whole (See also: "Love Actually").