The Audience and the Film

As an audience we willingly give ourselves to Alfred Hitchcock and his collaborators on the film. We subject ourselves to Hitchcock’s will and manipulation to view what he creates for us, and in return we give our time and commitment of thought. Occasionally the audience’s relationship with the actors and the stage is directly addressed through eye contact with an actor, or passively by putting us (the audience) in the viewpoint of the actor. By doing so, Hitchcock makes the audience see and feel what the character is seeing and feeling. Especially in the case of “breaking the fourth wall”, so to speak, the audience isn’t only observing the emotions and actions of the characters, we are sucked into the narrative and forced to feel and react. This motif of reaction is common in a number of Hitchcock’s films and can be seen through the following gifs.

animated animated GIF

In the gif (brought to you by this guy) we are seeing through Guy’s eyes and forced to feel the way Guy feels.

alfred hitchcock animated GIF

In this gif we are even more drawn into the role of Charile as her uncle, very menacingly, looks over her/our way, as we accept the role of Charlie in this shot. (source)

In Rear Window, the major theme is the idea of looking in on the happenings of others, which is the audience’s role when going to see a film or play. Naturally, the audience can relate to Jeffries easily as he looks in to the lives of others as we are, thus we share his viewpoint several times through the film. From Rear Window we can see the connection of audience and character, both directly and passively. For example:

looking in on others

communicating with others


and when he’s caught.



We relate to these different characters because, with consent, we are subjected to the manipulation of Hitchcock, notably through the connection between us and these characters.


3 thoughts on “The Audience and the Film

  1. Pingback: Hitchcock Motifs — UMW Blogs

  2. Pingback: Hitchock Motifs | bavatuesdays

  3. jdabb

    Hello Mrs. Atwater,
    I enjoyed your observations about the gaze and the way that you addressed some of the ways that Hitchcock controls our view by controlling a character’s point-of-view or having a character face the screen, thus locking gaze with us, the viewers as well as characters in the film.

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