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'Rope' No Strings Attached 15/01/2016

Figure 1: Rope Poster
This film review will focus on the film 'Rope', this film is about a story of two men called Brandon (John Dall) and Philip (Farley Granger) who kill their friend David for fun. They then play a game of fate to see how long it takes to discover the body during a house party. The film was released in 1948, was directed by Alfred Hitchcock,  the music was done by Leo F. Forbstein and the cinematography was done by Joseph A. Valentine. A fun little fact you may not have know about this film is when it was done the camera they were using was so big that if the set were to stay the same they would knock over all the furniture, so in the middle of recording they would move around bits of furniture to help the crew carrying the camera. This film is famous for how it experiments with filming, taking everything in long shots and really leaving the audience on edge. "With this movie, the master of suspense turns a nail-biting setpiece into a full-length feature, and shows us the ugly flipside of the violent thrillers that made his name. Murder in the movies is usually more about motive than consequence. The bad guys have it coming, and killers are much more interesting before they start repenting their crimes. But Rope rejects that formula by taking inspiration from a real-life murder, a particularly cold-hearted one, and rubbernecking on its aftermath." (P Hutchinson 2012)

Figure 2: Davids Box
The film is no classical but more of a dance with the devil, a dance of anticipation, luck and fate, two men murder a man called David, they then hide the body in the middle of a house party and the clock starts ticking before someone discover the truth of what happened to David. As the film progresses we see that small clues are made in order to build anticipation for the film, even small comments as asking about David’s whereabouts, to people leaving in search of him, its only at the end of the film all of the small pieces come together to form the full picture for only 'One' of the party's guests. Now the thing is that during the film you almost being to think like one of the men (Phillip and/or Brandon), worrying if any evidence has been left anywhere, people talking about David but there are two scenes in particular. In the film there is a part where people are doing their normal jobs around the apartment, one of which is putting books back in a chest where the two men have hid the body. "The play depended, for its effect, on the fact that it was one continuous series of actions. Once the characters have entered the room, there can’t be any jumps in time, or the suspense will be lost. The audience must know that the body is always right there in the trunk." (Roger Ebert. 1984) No, what makes the scene stand out is that this is the closest we get to having the two murders exposed, by having the solution so close in front of Rupert (James Stewart) and the Maid (Edith Evanson) only being hidden by a small drop of the head and the whole gig would be up, the builds a kind of tension that leaves you on edge, so perilously close to the truth it’s a measurement you daren’t repeat because it’s that small. The second scene that stands out is when the two men are talking after the party about their ‘Victory’, in the middle of their conversation they have a moment when they realised that there is someone still here, the first thing for the audience as well as stated earlier was “during the film you almost being to think like one of the men” same goes for this situation. You watch every single person leave except for one, the maid, the maid stays but does not overhear what the two men are luckily, only thing from keeping them caught was a thin wall. Its also the way the conversation is brought up as well, because almost instantly in the middle of a conversation the have a minor mess up moment, so the just cut off their conversation so quick you wouldn't even realise its there. It makes the characters feel much more human rather than having to ease their way into the topic of is someone still here? The last significant shot is weirdly at the end of the film; a parental figure is shown to the audience but is in no way related to our two main characters, however from the way he is portrayed we can clearly see he is some sort of father figure, but then the portrayal quickly turns from father figure to a teacher figure, giving the audience a sense of that the student has become the master, but something has gone horribly wrong by getting the wrong message. Even the lighting in this scene reinforces that, having green and red lights flicker on and off shows us the truth of what has actually been done, Red and Green being related to some of the colours of bruising. When the curtains are opened can the men truly see what they have done, being in a room the whole time being trapped in their own opinions and thoughts, but when the whole world sees what they have done and it is only then they can see the truth.

Figure 3: Rupert
The art and sound for the film is also done quite nicely, there is not a huge amount of symbolism in the colour, but the colour that was chosen for the film was very complimentary. It felt like you were in some sort of 1960's film noire scene with colour, everything looks grainy to a degree but not too much as you can directly see it or so it looks horrible like the kind of noise you get when a TV loses its signal. There is only really two song that play throughout the entire film, one of them played on a  piano by an actor, them being 'I'm looking Over A Four Leaf Clover' and 'Trois Mouvements Perp├ętuels' (The song played on the piano). Now the thing is that both of these songs do have some sort of meaning to them, 'I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover' is very casual, something you would play at a some sort of party, which is what happened. But then there is 'Trois Mouvements Perpetuals' which is slightly more interesting because one of the actors plays this whilst acting, which means a song can be altered on stage rather than off stage by video editing. As Rupert questions Phillip he puts a metronome on a very slow tick to being with, now a metronomes sound can also be associated with ticking noises, and the one object that is associated with ticking noises is a clock. So as he speeds up this metronome its almost like a timer indicating to either how long till Phillip cracks or how long until the body is discovered. The tension is then risen more as Phillip plays to the metronome speeding up the song, there being another hint to the audience that something is about to happen, a tension rising. Back to the colour choices of the film it is interesting to note that the entire set looks completely authentic, now that's probably due to the fact the film needed a realistic set. But the entire set looks almost perfect, like nothing is out of place, here's the thing, we know where the body is stored from the start of the film, a crate that is meant to resembles a coffin, there is then a sheet put over the crate to conceal it, to hide to truth so to speak. What makes this stand out is when that sheet is put over its is almost as if this coffin has been changed into some kind of church alter, to which the greatest sin of all is concealed underneath, murder.

Figure 4: David's Murder
This film was in a nutshell an experiment, having entire segments filmed in 9 or 10 minute sweeps. If you look at films today cameras constantly change in order to either focus on action or swap between characters quickly in a conversation. Having everything in just one shot did make the film seem more casual which is not necessarily a bad thing but it has come under a lot of scrutiny from other reviews and opinions when really all this film was meant to be was a dance with the devil, to keep you on edge. In case you didn't notice that the film was done in 9-10 minute sweeps Alfred used a tactic which was this, at the end of each shot the camera would either pass by an object or get very close to a character, there would then be a fade put in to such a degree to where it only looks like the camera was passing by a character. It is a little noticeable but not to a degree where it takes away from the immersion of the film. "Rope really is a film of firsts, a worthy springboard for the string of 50s films that ensured Hitch’s filmic immortality—universally revered titles like Rear Window, North by Northwest, and Vertigo. As the title suggests, perhaps even more important than its Technicolor debut, continuity, and thematic audacity is its use of a murder weapon as a unifying motif. Rope is just a common household item, as Brandon notes, so why should Phillip get his underpants in a bunch when it’s left in plain view?" (J Renouf. 2014) The film overall works, the plot is simple, effective and immersive, the cinematography and the acting in this film are top notch and other films should definitely take note from Alfred Hitchcock's experiment.

Biblography

Hutchinson, P. (2012) 'My favourite Hitchcock: Rope' 
In: The Guardian 27 July 2012 
(Accessed on 15.1.16)

R. Ebert Rope movie review & film summary (1948)
[online] At: 
(Accessed on 15.1.16)

Renouf, J. (2014) 'Rope (1948): A delightfully twisted Psychothriller' 16 January 2014 
[online] At: 
(Accessed on 15.1.16)

Image Biblography

Figure 1: Rope Poster

Figure 2: Davids Box

Figure 3: Rupert

Figure 4: David's Murder

Other Sources

Actors

James Stewart

Edith Anderson

John Dall

Farley Granger

Alfred Hitchcock

Leo F. Forbstein

Joseph A. Valentine

Music

'I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover.'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY-_8XOrvTs

Trois Mouvements Perp├ętuels

Film Links

Rear Window

North by Northwest

Vertigo

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