Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Rope - Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Rope is recognised for its experimental style, which is the lack of cuts between scenes to create a stage - like performance. The camera continuously moves to track the different events and dialogue between characters as one long take. As the camera and operator moves, the objects are removed from the path to be able to catch up with the next scene, this means the camera wobbles and the operator had to try to steady it to get the right angle and position. This technique became interesting for tracking where Mrs Wilson the Governor was heading with a pile of books and listening to a conversation from the other room. "The experiment was to give the illusion of one long take, instead of using editing for continuity. The film consists of eight 10-minute takes, with the edits between them concealed by tricky camera work." (Clifford, 2002), the evidence indicates that gap between the few takes is so long that it works within the long continual flow. The camera replaced traditional editing techniques as expressed by Clifford as 'concealed by tricky camera work', this relates to how the long shot of the camera was successful for letting situations play out through a slower time scale.

Figure 1, Allstarpics.Net, (2009), Rope still of Brandon and Mrs Wilson

Figure 2, Tooze Gary, (2011), Rope still of Ralph discovering the truth

The narrative was played out in the traditional three part story, starting with Brandon and Phillip strangling someone with a piece of rope. Throughout the party scenes, these two characters tried to act as innocent hosts but purposely inviting people that have had a history. These guests were then put into an uncomfortable environment and are unaware that Brandon is playing with them, for example the matchmaking between Kenneth and Janet. At the start of the party they resisted to the idea of speaking privately and spend time alone but they eventually learn to accept their situation and leave together as Brandon intended. The guilt is shown clear within Phillip because he becomes on edge around Rupert, as he interrogates Phillip about David not turning up and starts to suspect that something has happened. The end of the film, Rupert figures out that David was the man murdered before Brandon and Phillip could dispose of the evidence. Rupert fires four shots out of the window and sound of sirens fills the room leaving an intense shot of the three characters in silence.

Figure 3, Tooze Gary, (2011), Rope still of final scene

There were many hints to suggest where the story might be heading to, which began with Brandon's discussion about Rupert's old theory of superior and inferior beings. He mentions how the act of murdering a person below a social class would be art because of the thrill and excitement of it. Brandon also mentions a story about how Phillip used to strangle chickens revealing the murdering instinct buried deep within. Phillip tries to deny these actions but this only strengthens the doubt in Rupert's mind that there is a dark secret to be uncovered. Phillip becomes agitated and becomes worried that the guests start to suspect the event that may have taken place, he especially becomes suspicious with Rupert as he starts that to piece subtle clues together. The audience don't realise that these hints were left on purpose until the books wrapped with rope in the way they strangled their victim with, which Phillip described as 'clumsy'. When Rupert returns, Brandon tries to get him to think how he would get David out of the way, this tells the viewer that Brandon decides that he wants to get caught by him because Rupert can understand the genius of Brandon's plot. "Apart from the tedium of waiting or someone to open the chest and discover the hidden body which the hosts have tucked away for the sake of a thrill, the unpunctuated flow of image becomes quite monotonous." (Crowther, 1999) Crowther describes the slow build up of subtle hints and revealing the murder was intentional because the film allowed the characters and viewers to work out where the narrative will resolve. Also this allows viewers to take in each individual scene and draw conclusions from the exposed ideas.

Figure 4, Tooze Gary, (2011), Rope still of Ralph interrogating Phillip

The obstacle in the story was the chest because it represents the dark deed that Brandon and Phillip have committed. It could also be a metaphor for the fact that these characters were homosexuals, but not allowed to be openly viewed. Brian Webster, a film critic for Apollo guide discusses the point of this theme as cloaked "But when you hearken back to 1948 and consider the invisibility of homosexuality at that time, then the film takes on new meaning and Hitchcock's portrayal of it can be viewed as daring..." (Webster, 1998) He suggests how Hitchcock subtly made link of the two characters homosexuality and didn't openly express the subject because it was not acceptable in the time period. The chest is also the main hint of the murder because it is the only object in the room that could possibly be big enough to hide something within, the books scattered over the top is an obvious method of covering up the obvious.  

Figure 5, Fields Dan, (2010), Rope still of party


Figure 1, Allstarpics.Net, (2009), Rope still of Brandon and Mrs Wilson,@, Accessed on: 2009

Figure 2, Tooze Gary, (2011), Rope still of Ralph discovering the truth, @, Accessed on: 2009

Figure 3, Tooze Gary, (2011), Rope still of final scene, @, Accessed on: 2009

Figure 4, Tooze Gary, (2011), Rope still of Ralph interrogating Phillip, @, Accessed on: 2009

Figure 5, Fields Dan, (2010), Rope still of party, @, Accessed on: 2010

Clifford Robin, (2002), goat dogs movies,@, Accessed on: 12th August 2002

Crowther Bosley, (1999), Rope: An Exercise in Suspense Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, @, Accessed on: 1st January 2000

Webster Brian, (1998), Apollo guide review, @, Accessed on: 22nd March 2001

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