|Fig 1: Poster|
Alfred Hitchcock' Rope (1948) is a drama, thriller and crime film. The film tells a story about two man, Brandon and Philip strangle their friend David in their apartment and hide his body in a wooden chest in the room, agreeing to dispose of the body when the sun goes down. They continue getting ready for a party they arranged with David's father and aunt, his girlfriend Janet, his best friend Kenneth and Rupert Cadell, who taught all four boys. They all attend and are worried about the mysterious absence of David (whose corpse is hidden in the chest the two hosts serve the food from), but the event continues. Brandon seems very confident and even sometimes references or makes 'puns' about murder, while Philip gets more and more nervous as time passes and has a few outbursts due to pressure as he feels that they are going to be caught. During the evening, Rupert, gets suspicious. picks up on some clues and later tries to question the noticeably distracted Philip. As the guests are leaving, Rupert accidentally grabs a wrong hat with Davids initials inside, but returns it and leaves with the guests. Just as the two men think they got away with everything, Rupert returns claiming he lost something and asks to search for it. As he spends more and more time with the two boys, he quickly realises he was right and Brandon and Philip did murder David; disarming Brandon and uses the handgun to shoot three times into the night sky and waits until the cops arrive.
|Fig 2: The rope|
"The film was based on a play by Patrick Hamilton, which was based on the 1924 Leopold-Loeb case, the story of two homosexual law students in Chicago who murdered a 14 year old boy for kicks to prove they were super intelligent and could get away with it." (Kumar, 2013) The film starts with the two men murdering their friend. This instantly throws away the who-did-it question as we already are presented with the killers, but rather questions if they are going to be caught and when. It is clear that Brandon is the mastermind and as it is often hinted, he did it to prove intelligence, he can kill and get away with it. It is also hinted that he looked up to and was inspired to murder and not be guilty by his tutor Rupert, who talked about murder. When Rupert discovered the crime, he denied that he ever encouraged the boys to kill and that Brandon misunderstood him. The audience follows through the whole evening starting from the murder to the boys getting caught with their crime, but as the plot is quite simple the implied suspense of what is going to happen next is enhanced by the lack of clear cuts in the film.
|Fig 3: Rupert's reference to murder as art|
"Hitchcock's camera was loaded with 10-minute reels, and had to duck behind an actor's back, or a piece of furniture, to "invisibly" cut from one piece of film to the next. This clunkiness can be part of the film's claustrophobic strength though: the coffin-chest is rarely out of shot, and the camera follows the actors around every square inch of the confined set. They're trapped, and so is the audience." (Hutchinson, 2012) As the camera shows the whole evening without stop, it creates the feeling that the audience is one of the characters in the room and, makes them feel just as nervous as if they were committing the crime too. Every time someone neared the chest, or there is a reference to murder, it creates uneasiness and even slight fear that someone will discover the dead body. As the camera act as a person, moving around the room and following characters, but usually leaving the chest in the foreground, the viewers are constantly exposed to the fact that the body is still inside and anyone can open the box at any time, keeping people at the edge of their seats.
This camera technique of 'one-shot' was not used before and Hitchcock did it as an experiment. The technique is very creative and was not often tried even later with technological improvement. It was not only challenging as they had to find ways to cut the film without major notice, but the cast and the crew had to pay extra attention as well. As the takes were all about ten minutes, the actors had to deliver their lines and acting perfectly, to avoid re-takes.
|Fig 4: A cut in the film|
"The walls of the set and the furniture were mounted on castors so that they could be shifted during the recording to allow the huge cameras to move around the set on a specially constructed dolly" (Travers, 2008) The audience does not notices as the film takes the attention, but the camera had to fit into places where it could not unless the props were moved. The smooth movements of the camera helps to make it more believable that what happening on screen is real-life. It is a very clever idea that the furniture and walls were movable, as it meant that the film did not had to be cut, just so the crew could push them away then back, but it easily could be placed away and back while the camera turned away o focus on a specific prop or characters and their conversation.
|Fig 5: Environment set|
Another challenge that Hitchcock faced was that as this was his first film in colours and Technicolour was still very experimental, which meant that the lighting of the room had to be changes constantly to match the change of daylight as it went from evening to night. At the last scene he used a very interesting lighting, of flashing green and red of a neon sign outside the window, when Rupert catches the two murderers at the films most intense part, where all the different emotions, such as anger and fear both strongly displayed on the character. The flashing and bright colour highlight how the characters feel and show the audience exactly how intense those minutes were.
|Fig 6: Flashing green and red lights|
"John Dall as Brandon delivers a beautiful portrayal of a dominant, boisterous young man, who oozes his intellectual arrogance in every frame he fills. ... Philip on the other hand portrays equally well as a restless, submissive, fearful mischievous youngster who had by all means committed the crime just because he was convinced to do it." (JO, 2013) The two main characters and murdered were very well portrayed and they were believable. Brandon was the one who always references to the murder, as if he was enjoying the thrill of danger of getting caught often seemed be very proud and confident, while Philip was very distracted and clearly nervous. However, as soon as Philip was in the 'spotlight' of attention and was feared to reveal their crime, Brandon stepped in and saved the situation. Even though the audience knew that they most likely are going to be caught, but slightly feel relieved when it seems like they will get away with it.
|Fig 7: Philip and Brandon|
"Various critics recently have also noted the homosexual subtexts that run between Brandon and Philip in the film, though the film not glaringly notes it at the first place." (JO, 2013) In the 1940's homosexuality was not accepted and it was a bold move from Hitchcock to suggest that the two main characters had a relationship, with small gestures and hidden hints, but never clearly showing or telling it. However it did not go unnoticed and caused quite a shock and negative feedback with it, when it was released; but nowadays it does not have the same effect as it did at the release.
- http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/rope (Accessed on 20.01.17) . (2006) Rope At:
- Crowther, B. (s.d.) THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; ' Rope,' an Exercise in Suspense Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Is New Bill at the Globe. At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=980DE3D81630E03BBC4F51DFBE668383659EDE (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- Hutchinson, P. (2012) My favourite Hitchcock: Rope.
At: https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2012/jul/27/my-favourite-hitchcock-rope (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- JO. (2013) Rope (1948) – A Brief Analysis. At: http://creofire.com/rope-1948-analysis/ (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- JO. (2014) Rope (1948) – The Party Begins. At: http://creofire.com/rope-1948-party-begins/ (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- Kumar, A. (2013) Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope" -- An Analysis. At: http://movieretrospect.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/alfred-hitchcocks-rope-analysis.html (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- Travers, J. (2008) Rope (1948) At: http://www.filmsdefrance.com/review/rope-1948.html (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- Figure 1: Poster (s.d.) [Poster] At: https://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/Hitchcock_Gallery:_image_338 (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- Figure 2: The rope (2012) [Film Still] At: https://thebestpictureproject.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/rope3.jpg (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- Figure 3: Rupert's reference to murder as art (s.d.) [Film Still] At: http://quotesgram.com/img/alfred-hitchcock-movie-quotes/276872/ (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- Figure 4: A cut in the film (s.d.) [Gif/Online] At: http://pbblogassets.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2016/02/Rope_Fade.gif (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- Figure 5: Environment set (s.d.) [Online] At: https://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/Hitchcock%20Gallery:%20image%204712 (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- Figure 6: Flashing green and red lights (s.d.) [Gif/Online] At: http://31.media.tumblr.com/02df944b639d63943c89e5018d65983a/tumblr_mmdvg5ccEI1qcra4yo6_250.gif (Accessed on 20.01.17)
- Figure 7: Philip and Brandon (2016) [Film Still] At: https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/daily-briefing-hitchcock-borzage-ozu-more (Accessed on 20.01.17)