Saturday, 30 March 2013

Unit 3: Film Review - Rope


  • Title                     Rope
  • Directed by           
    Alfred Hitchcock 
  • Release date          1948
  • Running time        80 Minutes

        Rope is a 1948 thriller film based on a play also titled Rope (1929) by Patrick Hamilton. The Play was adapted to a be feature film by Hume Cronyn and Arthur Laurents which then went on to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock and was to be the first of Hitchcock’s Technicolor films. Rope is famous for being filmed and edited together so it seems like one long continuous take rather than multiple shots edited together.

Figure one: Rope
The plot revolves around two friends Brandon and Phillip, played by John Dall and Farley Granger. the pair kill a third friend called David, played by Dick Hogan, to prove their cultural supremacy. They then go onto hide David’s body in an antique chest in the middle of their apartment and then arrange to hold a dinner party around the chest, inviting the his family, friends and fiancée, as well as their former housemaster Rupert Cadell, played by James Stewart. As the guests enjoy there meal around the chest containing David’s body, they are blissfully unaware of its contents which pleases the two killers, so much so they begin to make vague comments about their deed but never go so far as to reveal their crime.

        “Rope is not merely a stunt that is justified by the extraordinary career that contains it, but one of the movies that makes that career extraordinary.” (Vincent Canby, June 3, 1984) Rope has often been considered one of Hitchcock's most experimental movies because of his choice to ignore many of the standard film techniques available in 1948. This allowed him to have the long unbroken scenes in the film giving the viewer the sense of it being one long take. Each shot ran continuously for up to ten minutes without any interruption. It was filmed on a single set aside from the opening street scene shown during the credits.

Figure  two: The Arrogant

The ingenious design of the set helped greatly in the filming process allowing the long unbroken shots to happen. The walls of the building were on rollers and could silently be moved out of the way to make way for the camera and then be replaced when they were to come back into the cameras view. A team of sound men and camera operators kept the camera and microphones in constant motion as the actors kept to a carefully choreographed set of cues. Prop men had to constantly move the furniture and other props out of the way to allow the large Technicolor camera to move in around the room for a more seamless experience, they then had to ensure they were replaced in the correct location when the camera had made way. “The novelty of the picture is not in the drama itself, it being a plainly deliberate and rather thin exercise in suspense, but merely in the method which Mr. Hitchcock has used to stretch the intended tension for the length of the little stunt.” (Bosley Crowther, August 17, 1948)

Figure three: The Guilty
         Rope has many suggestions revolving around the subject of homosexuality, for instance, Brandon, who dominates his homosexual lover, Philip, strangles David with an ordinary piece of Rope. David's only crime seems to be that he is ordinary, for being engaged to his fiancée, and is about to be married. It is OK to be “normal” but not “ordinary,” because to be ordinary means to be boring and average in the two friends eyes. Constrained by the enforced morality of the decency codes of the time, the film cannot come out and say explicitly what is obvious to anyone watching the film.” ( Paul McElligott, 18 October 2005) Rope was created in a time when any suggestions of homosexuality were strictly forbidden, but the filming and script was done in such a way that it didn’t actually commit any offence that could get Hitchcock into trouble with the Production team.  


Quote 2: Bosley Crowther, August 17, 1948 -
Quote 3: Paul McElligott 18 October 2005 -


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