Tuesday, 12 January 2016

CUTTING EDGES 2: 'Rope' (1948) Review

Fig.1. 'Rope' (1948) Poster

Alfred Hitchcocks 'Rope' (1948), is a intensely immersive film that entices the viewer in with it's experimental use of long shots which seem to be sewn together to create a one shot film. Inspired by a play of the same name 'Rope' plays out like a game of Cluedo, characters are bundled within rooms, which comes to a dramatic end when one character's wit and charm figures out the real reason for a certain someones absence. 

Fig.2. Film Still

With a piercing scream we are inadvisably welcomed to the scene of the crime. Strangled to death with a piece of rope. 'All of the events had to take place in one uninterrupted act, and he arrived at the novel idea of shooting the movie without any invisible cuts, so that it would look like one continuous shot.' (Ebert, 1984) This use of a continuous shot throughout the film seems to bring a real sense of tension. As a viewer you feel immersed within the set as conversations play out and characters enter and exit the shot. The way in which the camera seems to float around the set makes it feel like the viewer has become an un-invited guest to the party. The camera wanders around highlighting key objects or certain scenarios that catch it's eye. 

Fig.3. Film Still
Throughout the film, Brandon and Phillip, the main characters and also the culprits of the murder seem to be constantly on edge as the night unfolds, specifically Phillip, teetering on the edge from start to finish, unable to comprehend his actions. 'Instead of hiding themselves, or the evidence of their crime, they throw a party, inviting the dead man's loved ones to sip champagne and make small talk, just a few feet from his cooling corpse' (Hutchinson, 2012) They way in which Brandon feels that they should play with the death of this man as a pawn within the game (The party) is what really builds up the tension. As certain characters chat around the chest in which the corpse lies, Phillip's face contorts into such discomfort that as a viewer you feel so on edge and uncomfortable which makes for intriguing viewing. 

The relationship between Brandon and Phillip is something that would be deemed controversial to audiences of the late 1940's, the underlining homosexual subtext was hidden within the films core and only shown with throwaway lines of some very subliminal imagery. 'The elephant in Rope's posh Manhattan apartment is not the strangled corpse stashed in a trunk but homo subtext that Alfred Hitchcock knew he was working with yet was scarcely able to drag out of the closet in 1948-from the duo of John Dall and Farley Granger (both members of Hollywood's don't-ask-don't-tell community) to the surreptitious curlicues dropped in by screenwriter Arthur Laurents ( Joan Chandler's suspiscioulsy throw away "How queer" seems to always bring the house down), the film is crammed with submerged gay intimations' (Croce, 2006) The subtle yet very obvious lighting of Brandon's post murder cigarette acts as a kind of post coitus smoke, it's as if the murder that they have carried out together has been so intimate and overwhelming for one another that a cigarette is needed. The way in which they stand close to one another as they chat also hints at their intimacy with one another. All these aspects make for a immersive viewing.

In conclusion, 'Rope' is a brilliant film, not considered one of Hitchcock's best but he took a risk that in many critics opinion didn't entirely work within it's time due to the filming limitations of 10 minutes per reel. It feels the need for a modern remake that could use this continuous shot to it's full effect with today's technology.


Ebert, R (1984) 'Rope' At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/rope-1948 Accessed on: 12-1-2016

Croce, F. F (2006) 'Rope' At: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/rope Accessed on 12-1-2016

Hutchinson, P (2012) 'My Favourite Hitchcock: Rope' At: http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2012/jul/27/my-favourite-hitchcock-rope Accessed on: 12-1-2016


Figure. 1 Rope (1948) [Movie Poster] At: http://the.hitchcock.zone/files/gallery/org/338.jpg Accessed on: 12-1-2016

Figure. 2 [Film Still] At: http://nofilmschool.com/sites/default/files/uploads/2013/10/Rope-murder.jpg Accessed on: 12-1-2016

Figure. 3 [Film Still] At: http://infini-tropolis.com/reviews/images/ropescreenrev01.jpg Accessed on: 12-1-2016

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tom,

    Thoughtful review - just make sure to proofread as there are a couple of typos in there...'close' instead of 'closet' for example.