Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Cutting Edges- Film Review: Rope

Fig 1: Poster for Alfred Hitcock's 1948 Rope 
The perfect murder, the asphyxiation of David Kentley, committed in a darken apartment in Manhattan by Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan. Stuffing the body into a chest the two get ready for their leaving party, inviting David's parents and Fiancé, Janet Walker, as well as an old classmate and their head of house, Rupert Candell. The guests gradually start to worry about the whereabouts of the missing David as the party wraps up and it seems as though the two men have gotten away with their crimes. Then Rupert comes back to the apartment asking about his cigarette holder and makes a gruesome discovery...

Made in 1948 and based on the 1929 stage play of the same name, Rope is an Alfred Hitcock film famous for experimenting from the attempt of being filmed in one shot (done in 10 takes and edited into one due to the lack of film space on the reel that maxed out at 10 minutes, masking the cuts by zooming onto the characters backs) Due to such long takes, relatable to a live performance in a way, cast and crew were determined to get it right first time. This was made easier by the fact that there wasn't a lot of action and many lengthy pieces of dialogue due to its stage play origin. "Perversely, this cinematic experiment replicates the theatrical experience: Rope feels "live", which means that at any minute one of the actors could do something unexpected, such as fluff their lines, or heaven forbid, open the trunk."(Pamela Hutchinson, The Guardian, 27/7/2012)

The film was renowned for its uniqueness of filmography and of its openness of a same sex relationship in a time after the war where homosexuality was still considered sinful and shamed upon. "The territory is a censors-enforced minefield, with brutality and sexuality, the plot’s main elements, having to be alluded to rather than declared."(Fernando F. Croce, Slant Magazine, 2006). However even though it is only hinted at, it still shows through character interactions and sexual symbolism, for example Brandon smoking after he and Phillip kill David.
Fig 2: Shot of the three main players of the film, Brandon, Phillip and Rupert
The film starts with the murder, making the suspense aspect of the film that draws the audience's attention is centre around who will find the body. The way that the two male leads of Brandon and Phillip, play the two roles of domineering sociopath and his unwilling assistant who get more and more anxious in fact that they might get caught. The Head of house at their old school, Rupert, also adds to the tension. He spends the film suspicious of David's disappearance and of the two men's behaviour more then the other guests, he asks questions as though he his leading an investigation and through this he is able to uncover the gruesome secret hidden in the chest the guests ate off of.
Fig 3: The Titular rope and murder weapon of David
The character themselves come across as unique and diverse, while still being about to converse with other guests due to their characters being realistic as to being too exaggerated. It actually feels like it's a real scenario of a dinner party with two hosts, one full of confidence while the other, meek, hiding behind his piano instead of interacting with guests, a nosy maid, the concerned dad and the eccentric film nut aunt, the feisty fiancé to the dead man in the chest along with her good natured ex and then finally Rupert, the smartest man in the room, full of knowledge and eagle eyed to whats going on around him. As the movie goes on, there are subtle changes in the two hosts as they begin to struggle with keeping up with revealing the secret of the perfect murder they have just made prior, such as scenes with Janet where it is obvious that Brandon is hiding something and is trying to get her and her ex, Kenneth, despite knowing that she is very happy with being with David. Phillip is full of remorse over his actions, slowly getting more drunk and hostile until he just shouts at Brandon telling him to just tell Rupert about their crime only to be slapped across the face by his partner. As well as the two men. Rupert also develops as a character, starting as a suave threat to Brandon's perfect crime, and ranting on about whether murder is a good or bad thing basing his theories on social class. But when it is revealed that his ex-pupil actually went and killed someone he's so remorseful over his actions and of how wrong his believes are, that he ends up a broken man at the end of the film.

Fig 4: Confrontation between Brandon, Phillip and Rupert.
Overall Rope is a very well detailed film, the cast is extremely talented for being able to act as exceptionally as they did, performing a 90 minute film in one long take. It engrosses the viewer in its suspense, you want to find out how the two men get caught, not about the problems that the other characters have, your eyes focus on the chest thats always in view and when the reveal will happen and the way it happens is unpredictable. "...in “Rope,” Hitchcock is less concerned with sharp characterisation and moral dilemmas than with describing how a seemingly “perfect” crime goes wrong."(Emanuel Levy, 11/11/07) 
That driving force helps in creating a simple but effective story, creative way it was produced it is obvious that Rope helped in showcasing how much of a genius Hitchcock is with a camera and experimentation. Rope is definitely a stand up act and well worth a watch.

Slant magazine: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/rope
The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2012/jul/27/my-favourite-hitchcock-rope
Emanuel Levy: http://emanuellevy.com/review/rope-4/
Image 1- Poster: https://technicolordreams70.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/ropeposter.jpg
Image 2- Rope: https://billsmovieemporium.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/rope.png
Image 3- Brandon, Phillip and Rupert: http://madfilm.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/06431THUMB_edited-1LRG.jpg
Image 4- Confrontation: http://s3.amazonaws.com/auteurs_production/images/film/rope/w1280/rope.jpg

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