The film's theatrical roots prickle through every frame and line of dialogue, and Hitchcock uses the kitchen sink setting to draw attention to his characters' expressions, cadences and shortcomings in a way seldom seen outside of courts and conviction rooms.
It's rare to see a film so wholeheartedly reliant on its actors, but when Hitch's experiment works, Rope is a bubbling cauldron of wits and weaknesses. When it doesn't, it's a circular bickering battle grounded in subtle homoeroticism.
brilliant -- moments. Did you notice how the continuous flow of the camera (Hitchcock disguised most of the necessary cuts rather deftly) climaxes in the penultimate conversation between Phillip, Rupert (James Stewart) and Brandon? The kinetic movement of the camera "becomes" Rupert's theoretical POV (and the late David Kentley's probable POV) as he muses with the dangerous (and drunk) young men about exactly how he would have murdered David. Rupert falters for a moment in his mock planning, avoiding the obvious choice of placing the body in the large chest, while the camera moves swiftly in the opposite direction that Rupert describes.
The characterization -- or how the audience occupies the spaces of the characters -- is more disturbing than the murder itself. For the whole party/film we are forced to watch the hapless victims of the deceased's father, fiancee, and friends as they are unconscious of the irony that only Phillip and Brandon are cognizant. The audience is identified neither with
Phillip/Brandon or with the family/friends alone, but strangely with both: we, ourselves, were given special access to the murder and have been with Phillip and Brandon from the beginning. It is this identification with those we would not -- socially and publicly -- wish to identify with that Hitchcock makes the most of (this isn't the first time, and it won't be the last that he would use this phenomena.) The experience of suspense builds in this time we have spent with Brandon and Phillip and in our (partial) allegiance to these characters. Imagine beginning the film ten or even five minutes after the opening credits -- the audience's experience of the party would be almost utterly identified with the family and friends of David. The party would seem (as it did to many of them) as simply bizarre. Hitchcock's placing of the murder anterior to everything gives the body a kind of "signifier"- like quality: we "know" it is there, but it effects us in it the traces of its presence (in this case, tucked safely away in the chest and the memories of the hosts/guests. The chest is a signifier for the body itself, which we never see again after it is placed inside.)
Hitchcock's camera is far more alienated in this film than in his former and latter works, and while we could say this was no doubt influenced by his technical choices, I prefer to see the camera work as a meaningful artistic structure of the film. The camera fluidly captures each macabre moment as it glides from one conversation to another, each darkly cast by the disturbing subtexts of the murder and the unknown presence of the body. For my money, Rope is suspense in one of its most pure and rare forms: the audience knows everything -- motive, the hidden body, the murder weapon -- and we are left too squirm in our seats.
Yet I found myself unable to get past the one major (and, to me) glaring plot-hole in this film: there is no plausible reason for Rupert (Stewart) to automatically assume that his college buddies had nefariously done something to the lone missing party guest. AH attempts to explain this away by repeating (often) how Rupert has a mind that works similar to Brandon's and especially Phillip's. But the explanation just doesn't hold water for me. Were I to attend a dinner party, and someone that is perpetually on time was a no-show, it would take ALOT MORE for me to conclude that my friends had kidnapped/murdered said guest than the fact that I knew the hosts to be curious and mischevious.
Regardless, a fun, quick film with exquisite camera work and a heavy sense of paranoia and trepidation certainly keeps the viewer's attention for the duration. I wouldn't dispute someone that held this movie in higher esteem based on the script, but for me, as I said, that plot-hole completely engulfed my digestion of this film. (And as a final aside, I wonder if the 80 minutes would have been more satisfying as is, were we never to see the murder take place in the opening frame. In other words, have this movie, but leave it up to the viewer to debate whether or not a crime actually was committed at all by Phillip and Brandon, or whether Rupert was just overly paranoid and out of line. Until the penultimate scene of course. And fear not, this is no spoiler, for the murder is quite literally the first thing you see in this film after the opening credits.....Dear me, apologies for this rant, apparently I had a decent amount to say about Rope!)
Saw this on 16/09/2013
Rope is the 3rd Alfread Hitchcock film that I have seen. My personal favourite of his films is Psycho(1960) and I certainly feel that this film is better than North By Northwest(1959). The main thing I liked about this film is the strong dialogue. Once you go past the first half an hour, every single dialogue that comes at you wou;ld have a strong sense and they are not just mere dialogues. The only problem that I felt with this film is that in the beginning itself they show a murder committed by the hero's. They do it because they believe that murder is only meant for superior beings. That's acceptable, but the film maker never tells you why this particular victim was selected. That's a fault for sure. Other than this, Rope is a film with a good social commentary. The two main leads are my favourite in this film, Brandon is the strong one who does not fear about the coincidences of his actions(murder in fact) and I feel that I am more like Phillip. Phillip is always confused, and his lack of guts leads to the murder being caught open. I feel that i am more like Phillip because if I commit a murder and if I am put in such a situation, then I would definitely fail to save my neck.