Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Looking Out The Window at Gods and Monsters

"Classic" directors are name dropped every second on IMDB and talked about to a great extent by anyone interested in film, but many directors considered classic haven't really proven their abilities with a classic film. Many directors have made great films, astounding films, but few have made classics.

Alfred Hitchcock certainly did quite a few times in his life, but one of the most notable efforts he ever accomplished was a film called Rear Window(1956). Other directors have tried to match it's suspense, thrills and wit but have yet to compare in either of those three categories.

Another filmmaker who knew how to draw out the best of suspense, thrills and wit was the great James Whales. He made many great films, but he had one masterpiece. The Bride Of Frankenstein(1935) still holds up on many levels today, possibly even more than it did back in its hey day.

When trying to look at classic films, we like to compare them with other classic films of the same time period, or even by the same director. Close Encounters(1977) and ET(1982) both brought us nice aliens for a change, while The Graduate(1967) and Bonnie and Clyde(1967) both fell in our laps in the same year and brought a major shift in cinema. As we often compare films like these, we rarely compare films from different time periods or completely different directors.

Rear Window came some 20 years after Bride of Frankenstein. They represent 2 very different times in history. In 1935 we were about to end The Great Depression and in between wars, while during 1956 we were just coming off the Korean War. The times were much better in the 50s, but there was one thing the country was worried about. The very thing we feared was nuclear war, this led to massive paranoia throughout the country.

Both of these films represent just that, paranoia. In The Bride, everyone is paranoid that The Monster is out to hurt them, but really all he needs is a friend. He is simply misunderstood and taken forgranted for the good he has in him. In Rear Window, LB Jeffries suspects a neighbor of killing his wife and becomes paranoid that he spends every waking moment checking on every move the man makes. The difference between the films is where the blame lies. In The Bride, the blame lies on the people who were too unaccepting of something they didn't understand that they would stop at no length to kill him. In Rear Window, the man really is who we are made to believe he is. Thus the paranoia is proven correct. What is with the sudden shift though? Why all of the sudden is the role changed and the monster really is a monster. It could very well just be that he was made that way by his terrible, complaining, naggy wife. That doesn't cover his actions. The murderer was still in the wrong obviously for killing her, but he may have been brought to the edge as The Monster happened to be at some points of The Bride.

Both films reveal a little something about the paranoia of the time they were made and both reveal themselves in the end to be films about humanity and the hope we have in ourselves and others.


David Drew Farmer said...

Great compare and contrast review. I like how you mention the time periods of each film and how it was a display of paranoia. I dont agree with your title though. hahaha.

Rhonda said...

I thought your title was clever. I enjoyed the history lesson as well. Your writing was really clear and strong. Excellent blog.

wilson_kanadi said...

Hi.. I'm Wilson! Great blog! :)

KT J. said...

Hey, It's me again lol
How are you?