Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948)

Figure 1. Rope Poster 

What’s unique about Rope is it’s story is less of who committed the murder and instead is about if the characters will get away with it. As Levy mentions in his review “Unlike other movies, in “Rope,” Hitchcock is less concerned with sharp characterization and moral dilemmas than with describing how a seemingly “perfect” crime goes wrong.” (2007, Levy). As Levy highlights this film is more about building suspense than showing character development. As an audience we are given all the info of who committed the crime right at the start of the film seeing Philip and Brandon strangle their friend David with a rope. The then place him in a book chest which you can see in figure 2. Knowing this information creates tension for the audience. This is especially experienced in the scene in which the maid is clearing items of the chest. The camera is left to focus on her as she slowly removes the items from the chest, this creates a large amount of suspense as the audience wonder whether she’ll discover the body.

Figure 2. Murder

What’s also interesting about rope is its continuous nature, the film itself feels almost like a play unravelling in front of the audiences eyes. “There is a great stroke of craftsmanship at work throughout the film. Shot in ten long takes, the movie creates an elaborate illusion that there is no cutaway or break from the action, as if to indicate a quiet observer is present in the room for the whole duration of the story” (2014, Keyes). Keyes mentions that the film is shot in 10 takes, meaning that no editing is involved with this film. This is what helps it feel like a play or like you’re a spectator watching. You also feel like the spectator later in the film when the camera is moved around during an explanation. The camera is made to look around as if a human would and this successfully involves the audience within the film.

Brandon and Philip 

In modern times it would be obvious to us that the two lead characters are infact a gay couple. Webster touches upon this in his article “This modestly successful thriller stands out as Alfred Hitchcock's first colour film and for the presence of two obviously gay lead characters.” (2001, Webster). Webster says that the fact they are gay stands out. This would most likely be because at the time this film was made being gay was not as accepted as it is now. The portrayal of these characters however fits very much in the trope of one person in the gay couple being dominant and the other being submissive which is neither an accurate or fair portrayal of gay men. Though this is representation in a time in which none was really allowed it is poor.

A unique and thrilling film, Rope proves that a handful of sets aren't needed for a successful film.

Levy, E (2007) (accessed 29/04/15)
Webster, B (2001) (accessed 29/04/15)

Illustration list
Hitchcock, A (1948) Figure 1. Rope Poster (accessed 29/04/15)

Hitchcock, A (1948) Figure 3. Brandon and Philip (accessed 29/04/15)


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