Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window", is a self-reflexive allegory of the cinema which utilizes voyeurism thematically to underscore the nature of film spectatorship. Voyeurism is the practice of deriving pleasure from secretly observing an objectified other engaged in a private act, generally of a sexual nature (Thompson 102). The principal voyeur and protagonist in "Rear Window" is L.B. Jefferies. He is placed as the viewer-surrogate, whose preoccupation with his neighbors mirrors the spectator's fascination with the narrative unfolding on the screen. As the viewer-surrogate, Jeff's point-of-view is dominant throughout the film and unites his voyeurism with the curiosity of the cinematic audience (Perlmutter 55). Through this, Hitchcock explores the position of the spectator, and the pleasures and anxieties which arise from such a position.
Hitchcock employs symbols which point to icons of cinema to convey the parallels between film spectatorship and voyeurism. The character of Jeff embodies the spectator whilst his rear window represents the movie screen. Jeff's circumstance of being confined to a wheelchair, unable to participate in the goings-on outside, emulates the passive position of the viewer. As a means of distracting himself from boredom and compromising for his own invalidity, Jeff assumes an interest in the world outside his rear window. Jeff's rear window is understood to be the movie screen from the opening credits, as bamboo blinds are drawn upwards in a similar way to movie curtains being drawn apart (Thompson 103). .
Moreover, this window overlooks his apartment block courtyard and the private lives of his neighbors are projected unto it. Jeff's window provides the perfect vantage point for his binocular-wielding activities and is the physical barrier which keeps him concealed, anonymous and detached from the narratives of his neighbors. Concealment offers him the privilege of being the subject of a controlling gaze and makes him free of reproach.