Rope (1948

Alfred Hitchcock

Figure 1. Film Poster

Cast Dick Hogan ... David Kentley John Dall ... Brandon Farley Granger ... Phillip Edith Evanson ... Mrs. Wilson Douglas Dick ... Kenneth Joan Chandler ... Janet Cedric Hardwicke ... Mr. Kentley Constance Collier ... Mrs. Atwater James Stewart ... Rupert Cadell

A suspense filled thriller done in a very different yet effective style, The Rope shows you a murder and instead of the viewer watching the detective, waiting for the culprit to be discovered, the audience is left waiting for the detective to get to the information they’re already aware of. Based on a play of the same name, the Rope is a suspense filled thriller about two killers who murder to prove superiority, with very long takes the viewers are left in a pressure cooker waiting for the discovery to be made.

Figure 2. David's end

Gimmick or not, the fact that the Rope is made with very little editing makes it stand out from its predecessors, the film is filmed in one setting and every important story element happens in one house, the director could have easily taken the characters out to the car park, or moved someone to another setting, but the minimalistic take on the film made it so that the build up to the end would be that much intense, A murder begins the film and though brief, it was the foundation of the story, everything about this story works because it’s been planned to the tiniest of details, but for a film meticulously planned there are parts where Hitchcock makes transition to another cut becomes very evident, there might have been a reason for this because as Pamela Hutchison says on her article “Hitchcock's famous reliance on storyboarding and scripting” (Hutchinson, 2012), so it’d be very odd the very evident cuts had no mean, it could be down to the fact that the film reel couldn’t take much more footage, but as far as story went this felt natural, because you were never taken away from the scene. The choice of words the characters say in film seems to always hint at something, even after the murder is committed they talk as if they’re hinting at a murder. One thing that Hitchcock didn’t really deliver on was the backstory, the audience go in to the film without knowing anything, Hitchcock gives you nothing yet, there are hints at history between the characters, this is very restrictive because without digging deeper or listening to little specific details you wouldn’t know much about the characters, it is hinted that the two murders are homosexual and the former teacher of the two men had, had an affair with either one of them, you don’t get this understanding after watching the film once, and it’s no wonder as the time the film was made being homosexual was considered a taboo so Rope becomes “immediately explicit without actually committing any offenses the Production Code people could object to”(Canby, 1984), it might have been a mistake to hide this information from the story presented but as it didn’t really change too much about the characters maybe it wasn’t too bad.

Figure 3. Symbolic Catharsis

The ending of the film was fitting to how the film was set out from the beginning it almost felt perfect, because the whole film was leading to the moment of the discovery of the body, when Rupert finally reveals it and then proceeds to the window, which has been shut tightly closed for 80 hours, then shoots the gun, it’s like a “symbolic catharsis” (Schneider, 2006) the tension is finally released and the characters now await their punishment, the symbolism of the shoot alone was enough to make the ending that much dramatic as there’s sense of relief as the whole ordeal is finally over. For a film to be as good as Rope was and be film in one location, the dialogue between the characters have to carry the story, this was an interesting take because it was like watching a theatre play, but from the best view imaginable, everything was happening in real time but instead of being in one restricted position the story is shown inside the scene, and shows all the main parts of story, Rope is an intense thriller, which manages to hold suspense even when the viewer knows more than the detective.

Illustrations Figure 1: Figure 2: Figure 3: Bibliography Hutchinson, P. (2012) Hitchcock's famous reliance on storyboarding and scripting. In: guardian [online] (Accessed on 20/01/2013) Canby, V. (1984) immediately explicit without actually committing any offenses the Production Code people could object to. In: nytimes [online] (Accessed on 20/01/2013) Schneider, D. (2006) symbolic catharsis. In: cosmoetica [online] (Accessed on 20/01/2013)

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