The opening of Rear window begins with the camera moving through an apartment window, it surveys the local area from the same position, almost as if someone is looking out of their window, this by use of subjective camera. I can see that the area is an enclosed courtyard in the middle of a major city (possibly New York) people are visible waking up outside of their houses on their balconies because of the severe heat wave. A middle aged man who from the apparatus inside his apartment appears to be a musician, a dancer performing various stretches and children playing in the street. By being introduced to these different characters I can see how the audience is in a privileged position.
The camera then moves back inside the apartment, I can see a man sitting in a wheelchair, he is sweating from the intense heat wave and has a broken leg. On the cast surrounding his leg is an inscription that reads “here lie’s the broken bones of “L. B. Jeffries” The camera moves through his apartment, there is a broken camera and various pictures hanging on the wall, one of these pictures is of a car crash during a race, the debris form the crashed car is flying towards the photographer, from this brief information I can speculate that “Jeff” is a photographer and that he was the photographer of the car crash photo and that it is properly the reason he has broken his leg.
There are many copies of the same magazine around Jeff’s apartment, on the cover of the magazine is a young woman, on the wall of the apartment is the negative copy of the same picture, form this I can determine that “Jeff” was the photographer of the picture on the cover and that this woman also means a lot to him (maybe his wife or girlfriend) I can determine that “Jeff” is the main character because he scene has concentrated more on him than on any other character.
From the first few minutes of Rear Window I can already establish even without the need for dialogue that the main character for the film is “Jeffries”, That his profession is Photographer, That the film is set in an enclosed courtyard; and a possible group of supporting characters such as The women on the cover of the magazine, the middle aged songwriter, the couple on the balcony and the dancer.
The opening of Psycho begins with the camera high above a huge city, it pans around the city then cuts to a lower view. Suddenly text moves onto the screen, “Phoenix Arizona” it quickly moves off the screen again, then more text appears on the screen, “Friday 11th December… …2:43pm” this is much more precise than Rear Window The camera then zooms in towards a building, it then cuts to an even closer view of the building, the camera the moves under a window blind into a room, there is a man and a woman in the room, they are getting dressed, it is apparent that they have just had sex together.
From the brief opening of Psycho I can determine that one or both of the people seen at the beginning of the film could be main characters, that the couple seen at the beginning are lovers and the location, date and time in which the film is set due to the captions seen at the beginning.
The way in which I obtained this various information from each of the films differs. In Rear Window the film gave me many visual clues as to the Setting and situation of the characters while in Psycho the opening scene either flashes the information needed or is obtained by listening to the conversation between the couple.
The music in the opening of Psycho is very tense, sinister and eerie, while the music in Rear Window is very upbeat and cheer-full and there is no narrative in either opening.
The way the scene is shot differs in both films. In Rear Window there are very few cuts in the opening, most of the scene is shot from the same point (The Apartment) and just revolves around the area. This method is called subjective camera. In Psycho the methods used differ slightly, there are many more cuts in the scene, the camera also gives the feeling of omnipresence – the feeling of being everywhere at once. Also instead of the camera looking out of a room in Psycho the camera opts to move into a room.
In conclusion, although both films are directed by Alfred Hitchcock, He uses different methods of informing the audience about vital information regarding the Main Character(s), the location and the mood in each film. The two films also have different ways of positioning the audience using the camera, for example in Rear Window a subjective camera is used as we see the majority of the opening through “Jefferies” point of view. However in Psycho we are given an omnipresence view, we are a privileged audience as we see everything.