Rope is a crime film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1948 but is considered as one of Hitchcock's less well known films. The story follows two murderers who are desperately trying to keep their dinner guests from discovering the dead body hidden in a chest in the apartment.
One of the most intriguing factors about Rope is that the whole film is one continuous uninterrupted act. When each part of a film reel ran out, the camera simply zoomed into the back of an actor or passed by the back of a chair to make the reel change seamless. Hitchcock thought very hard into achieving this effect, "He 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." (Ebert, 1984) (Figure 2). This method made the whole feel like real time and gave the audience the role of the fly on the wall. The audience had seen all the events that had occurred such as the murder that the other guests did not know about.
Hitchcock was very famous for his use of tension and suspense in his films and achieves this in Rope. Although there is very little soundtrack to this film, when there is it certainly plays a big part. One example of this is when Rupert is interrogating Phillip as he plays the piano (Figure 3). As the two characters are talking, Rupert starts a metronome going, this constant ticking puts Philip and the audience on edge with agonizing tension. The tempo of the metronome is then increased which only heightens the now unbearable tension. Hitchcock also uses lighting only at the end of his film, "neon lights that blink a garish red and green as the film reaches its climax." (Hutchinson, 2012). The lights in the climax makes the reveal of the murderers so much more intense.
Tension and suspense is also achieved in Rope through camera work. Hitchcock was described that "He also joyed in being termed the filmic 'master of suspense'" (Schneider, 2006). One of the most well known pieces of suspense in this film is a scene in which a maid is clearing the chest which contains the dead body. The shot only contains the chest and the maid pottering around the set completely oblivious. As the audience knows that the body is in the chest, the longer the maid delays opening the lid, the more the suspense builds. When watching the scene the other characters are having a full conversation in the background; however this seems completely unnoticeable to audience due the main attention being focused on the the possible reveal of the dead body.
Another shot in the film which seemed to be quite experimental is when Brandon goes to hide the rope murder weapon in a drawer in the kitchen (Figure 4). We only catch Brandon dropping the rope in a snippet as the kitchen door swings shut. This gives the effect that the audience has seem something they shouldn't have and should almost be kept a secret.
Ebert, R (1984) Rope Film Review http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/rope-1948 (Accessed on 15/01/14)
Hutchinson, P (2012) Rope (1948) My Favorite Hitchcock: Rope, In: The Guardian [online] http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2012/jul/27/my-favourite-hitchcock-rope (Accessed on 15/01/14)
Schneider, D (2006) Rope Film Review http://www.hackwriters.com/rope.htm (Accessed on 15/01/14)
Figure 1, Rope (1948) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Poster] USA, Warner Bros, http://s3.amazonaws.com/suite101.com.prod/article_images/orig/6ccf5c59-a347-4208-a3a7-6be186c5f86b.jpg (Accessed on 15/01/14)
Figure 2, Rope (1948) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Still] USA, Warner Bros, http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/wow/0aadaropopo7.jpg (Accessed on 15/01/14)
Figure 3, Rope (1948) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Still] USA, Warner Bros, http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_U6VaMYE3fYM/TUlxPXRKtHI/AAAAAAAAAdY/T_My4KHk2Cg/s1600/Rope1948.jpg (Accessed on 15/01/14)
Figure 4, Rope (1948) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Still] USA, Warner Bros, http://images.undergroundfilmjournal.com/wp-images/rope_hitchcock.jpg (Accessed on 15/01/14)