This review is analysing the editing of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The rope” and the most exciting thing was that there was almost none of it. Somebody might ask, how could it be exciting? This post is based on Roger Ebert’s review from “Chicago Sun-Times” page (June 15, 1984), Brian Webster’s review from “Apollo Movie Guide” page (no exact date of the publishing), Ryan S.J. review from www.didyoumissit.com (May 19, 2010).
Rope is a 1948 American crime film based on the play Rope (1929) by Patrick Hamilton and adapted by Hume Cronyn (treatment) and Arthur Laurents, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by Sidney Bernstein and Hitchcock as the first of their Transatlantic Pictures productions. Starring James Stewart, John Dall and Farley Granger, it is the first of Hitchcock's Technicolor films, and is notable for taking place in real time and being edited so as to appear as a single continuous shot through the use of long takes. Roger Ebert says in his review that “The play appealed to Hitchcock’s sense of the macabre and his fascination with situations involving the inconvenience of dead bodies. But in translating the play to the screen, he had to deal with that unity of time and space.” (June 15, 1984, Chicago Sun-Times) Long scenes also helped a lot not to loose the tension and interaction with the things happening on the screen. Hitchcock built elaborate sets with movable walls on wheels. He choreographed his actors so that they and the camera could perform intricate ballets without interrupting the action. He loaded his camera with 10-minute magazines of film, he arranged the screenplay in 10-minute sections, and at the end of each section he used an “invisible wipe” to get to the next magazine: The camera, for example, would move behind a chair at the end of one shot, and seem to be moving out from behind it in the next. It really makes strangely interactive environment and makes the audience feel as if they would be sitting in a theatre. It is also easy to notice
Although the word was apparently never spoken in the making of Rope, the film’s undercurrent of homosexuality is obvious from the start, as Brandon Shaw ( John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) strangle David Kentley (Dick Hogan), and then Brandon removes his own and then Phillip’s gloves. In Brian Webster’s words “More than half a century later, the homosexual subtext seems insignificant, as the film doesn’t say a whole lot about homosexuality, except perhaps that gays are psychotic. 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” (no exact date of the publishing, apolloguide.com). The other very characteristic person in this story is Rupert Cadell, the ex-professor – “He senses that the culprits are not quite themselves during the festivities and so, the killers have to think on their feet as their carefully plotted alibis begin to crumble . . .” (Ryan S.J., www.didyoumissit.com (May 19, 2010)). Also intellectual little humour and romantic parts were just charming and solid in the whole scenario.
The movie is intensive, exclusive and interesting to watch. You have to pay attention even to the smallest details – for example hanging rope or what is the maid doing. The best part is an actual time and mood changing. You could easily notice a sunset going down through the window or characters getting more and more nervous. In the scene when Rupert comes back for his cigar case everything gets unbelievably intense and the ending shows as much as it should. All in all this movie could not have been made better in any other way and this Hitchcock’s experiment is a definite success.
Figure 1 - The Rope (a screenshot from the movie "Rope" by Alfred Hitchcock, 1948)
Figure 2 - Killing scene (a screenshot from the movie "Rope" by Alfred Hitchcock, 1948)
Figure 3 - A teasing scene when Rupert comes back to the flat (a screenshot from the movie "Rope" by Alfred Hitchcock, 1948)
1. Roger Ebert (June 15, 1984, Chicago Sun-Times) http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19840615/REVIEWS/811069998/1023
2. Brian Webster (no exact date of the publishing, apolloguide.com) http://apolloguide.com/mov_revtemp.asp?CId=2938