Comparing Arlington Road and Rear Window

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It is a concurrent agreement in the film industry that Alfred Hitchcock is nothing less than a legend when it comes to the suspense and thriller genres of film. That being said, many filmmakers unsurprisingly aspire to adopt his style in more recent films. Movie critique Andrew O’Hehir suspects that this is the case with Mark Pellington’s production, Arlington Road, which follows the story of a man taken with the idea that his neighbors are terrorists. Although Pellington’s production possesses distinctively Hitchcock-styled qualities in its editing, storyline, and themes, O’Hehir argues that it is “…ultimately just another maddeningly ill-conceived tribute placed at [Hitchcock’s] feet.” However, it cannot be determined if Pellington meant for Arlington Road to be a tribute at all. The film may have a multitude of resemblances to Hitchcock film, but its finale fundamentally distinguishes itself unique to O’Hehir’s assumption.

The first, most visually established element in Arlington Road that likens itself to the films of Hitchcock is the editing style. From the opening scene, a suspenseful soundtrack paired with images of a stumbling child dripping blood that something is amiss, while the unsuspecting protagonist, Michael Faraday, drives up in complete ignorance. This technique in which the audience is exposed to fatal details detained from the protagonist is typical of Hitchcock films, as seen in works such as Psycho, where an unaware young woman takes a shower while the audience watches an approaching murderer helplessly. Another example can be taken from Rear Window, in which Lisa Fremont breaks into the believed murderer’s apartment to gain evidence, entirely oblivious to his return. Again, this tactic, often recog...

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... comes to restoring order for the sake of a satisfying conclusion. However, this is nowhere close to the case of Arlington Road, which ultimately kills off its protagonist, frames him, and has his child handed over to the alleged terrorists. This demoralizing “dénouement” alone is enough to support the case that Arlington Road is indeed not a film designed to follow in the steps of Hitchcock.

Overall, while Arlington Heights may have possessed a great deal of elements popular to the Hitchcock-styled film, its ending is the final word on deciding that it is not so. Andrew O’Hehir, with his frankness and brutal word choice, appears to have jumped too quickly to a conclusion in deciding that Arlington Road was meant to mimic Hitchcock’s style. But in the end, the similar editing techniques, plotline, and thematic elements are only the coincidence of a shared genre.

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