Comparing Arlington Road and Rear Window

Powerful Essays
Vertigo. The Birds. North by Northwest. Psycho. Rear Window. What do these films share in common? First, they are all widely recognized as some of the best thrillers in the history of the genre. More importantly, they were done by one man: Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock, often referred to as the “Master of Suspense” left an enormous impact on the thriller genre, changing the way people looked at it forever. Rear Window is perhaps one of the greatest examples of his revolutionary approach. Hitchcock changed the game through the utilization of a variety of stylistic and thematic elements that countless others have borrowed and used in an attempt to recreate the magic of his work in the modern age. One such attempt was by director Mark Pellington through his 1999 film, Arlington Road. The film uses many Hitchcockian elements, but while imitating it, Arlington Road simply does not live up to the standards of an iconic thriller as established by Hitchcock, such as Rear Window.

Alfred Hitchcock has forever left his mark on not only the thriller genre, but the entire movie industry with a list of thematic and stylistic elements that he regularly employed. Primary among these are: the restoration of moral order, the charismatic villain, the clever undermining of institutions of social order, divulgence of suspense heightening information, relatable protagonists, and POV editing. A perfect example of the Hitchcock thriller is Rear Window; and as previously stated, Arlington Road falls short in matching this. However, Arlington Road does utilize some of these Hitchcock characteristics well. The first and most obvious of the similarities is the destruction of the stereotypical, (Mr. Rogers’, if you will), neighborhoo...

... middle of paper ...

...d Hitchcockian precedent in the closing scenes.

While Arlington Road is a decent attempt at recreating a Hitchcock thriller, such as Rear Window, and manages to nail several elements thereof, it falls short in three areas that ultimately ruined the film’s chances of measuring up to the genre’s former greatness. Arlington Road and Rear window are strikingly similar in their undermining of institutions of social order, relatable protagonists, and charismatic villains. However, Arlington Road does not successfully utilize POV editing, does not properly manage the heightening of suspense, and does not restore moral order in the end of the film. These, along with an implausible ending, sink Arlington Road into the murky depths of mediocrity, with iconic Hitchcock thrillers, such as Rear Window, sail smoothly through the ages: the original, and perhaps, the best.
Get Access