Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Film Review: Rope

The first film we watched from the ‘The Cutting Edge’ film programme was Rope, which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and was released in 1948.

Rope is a film about two men who have committed a murder under the impression that they are superior to all of those around them. Throughout the filming of Rope Hitchcock used a single camera for the entire film as Bosley Crowther explains in his 1948 review for The New York Times:

"...Mr. Hitchcock has tried the trick of shooting full-length picture in one set and in one continuous scene. That is to say, he has made his camera a random observer in an elegant suite of rooms in which a murder is being committed just as the picture begins." 

Hitchcock masterfully filmed each scene so that the film itself played as one continuous event. In order to do this he was careful about how he edited the the scenes together, skilfully zooming in on particular objects and zooming out as the reel of footage came to and end and the scene had to end. This made the film feel like on continuous loop but leaves an impression of poor camera use for someone who doesn't understand this as Vincent Canby wrote for The New York Times in his 1984 review:

"Hitchcock was interested in seeing whether he could find a cinematic equivalent to the play, which takes place in the actual length of time of the story. To do this, he decided to shoot it in what would appear to be one long, continuous "take," without cutaways or any other breaks in the action, though in fact there would have to be a disguised break every 10 minutes, which was as much film as the camera could contain."

What adds to this is that the scenery outside the windows slowly changes indicating a shift in time. At the beginning of the film it was a bright afternoon and by the end it is the dead of night. Perhaps the change in time of day indicates the rise in tension that Hitchcock builds up so beautifully.

Hitchcock creates a beautiful atmosphere of suspense in Rope for many reasons rather than a single one. But if one had to drawn out in particular it would have to be the dead mans body in the trunk. 

"One of Hitchcock's more experimental films, with the tale of two young gays, keen to prove their intellectual and spiritual superiority, killing a friend and hiding his body in a trunk in order to see whether dinner guests will suspect anything."

What is so brilliant about this particular element is that the main characters could get caught at any moment. they hide the body in near enough plain sight, taunting their guests and suggesting that they want to be caught. And on several occasions they nearly do adding more and more suspense until the horrible deed is finally discovered at the films conclusion. 


Crowther, Bosley (1948) 

'Rope': An Exercise in Suspense Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

At: (Accessed on 02.02.11)

Canby, Vincent (1984)  

'Rope': A Stunt to Behold

At:                           (Accessed on 02.02.11).

TimeOut (-) Rope.
At: (Accessed on 02.02.11)

No comments:

Post a Comment