Thursday, 19 January 2017

Review: Rope by Alfred Hitchcock (1948)

Rope is a murderous thriller made in 1948 by Alfred Hitchcock. The film was originally a play and is filmed in a way to make it look like a single shot film. The film tells a story of two men that murder a man just for the thrill of it. We watch Philip slowly lose his mind, unable to deal with the murder he has committed, and we watch them get caught, found out by a party guest called Rupert. 

The film is brilliant when creating tension. The use of small talk when the audience knows there is a dead body in the room creates tension, and begins to make the audience impatient. We want something to happen. We already know that they will be found out, due to the films use of foreshadowing, therefore waiting while this boring party takes place really tests the audience. This impatience is also taken further by the use of dialogue the audience can't make out and also overlapping dialogue. The use of tension is very effective within the scene in which the maid is cleaning the food off of the chest. ''We open with a murder, and close with a gunshot that summons the cops. What happens in between is filmed excruciatingly close to real time. David, Brandon and Philip are gathered for cocktails in a swanky Manhattan apartment, but two of the pals throttle the third and cram his body into a heavy wooden chest. Instead of hiding themselves, or the evidence of their crime, they throw a party, inviting the dead man's loved ones to sip champagne and make small talk, just a few feet from his cooling corpse.'' (Hutchinson, 2012). The audience knows the body is there, and is waiting for her to open the chest and discover the body inside. The camera is constantly kept on her, it is kept still and the talking characters are left out of shot. We are kept like this until the maid is just about to open the chest to put the books away, until he stops her.

The use of timing and sound within the film is also very effective. For example, the scene in which Rupert is interrogating him while he is playing the piano he begins to play with a metronome. This metronome gets faster and faster as Rupert gets more and more intense with his interrogation, this further creates tension and also creates discomfort. The piano music is also in the minor key and at times very dischordal, this further makes the scene very awkward and tense for the audience.

The use of lighting throughout is also very effective. Throughout the film, we are presented with an exterior image through the window, this features read and green neon lights, that are constantly in the background. This then gets carried into the final half an hour of the film, where it becomes hugely more theatrical with red and green lighting on the characters just as the murderers are being discovered by Rupert. This oils help to connote the drama within the scene and fur there to represent the emotions of the characters, red being evil and green being sly. ''Technically, the best thing here is the studio skyline-backdrop, with fibreglass clouds, a travelling sun and neon lights that blink a garish red and green as the film reaches its climax'' (Hutchinson, 2012).

The use of camera the unique sound through the film are also very interesting. The use of a continuous camera illusion makes the film seem almost painfully slow at times. It puts the audience in the same position as the two murderers within the film, We are constantly waiting for something to happen, and for them to get found out. ''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.'' (Ebert, 1984). This shot also creates an intense relationship with the characters, putting us in their shoes, and maybe perhaps inviting us to the party. Also creating the feeling of being 'trapped within a movement' , we know they will be caught, but we can't do anything about it. Furthermore, when we are presented with Rupert's opinion of what happened to David, we get put into a POV shot, panning around the room, looking at different objects as he explains. It pans from the door, to the table to the chair and then finally to the chest. ''The 1940's and 50s really propelled the use of POV shots. The era of horror, mystery, and sci-fi films used the technique to captivate and scare audiences.'' (Maher, 2015). The space in which the camera creates for the audience is also very claustrophobic, the scenes are very closely cropped, perhaps creating a sense of being trapped in the house, just like the men, and just like the dead body.

The use of foreshadowing creates a unique experience for the audience. Throughout, there are lots of references to hands and also strangulation, relating to the murder at the beginning of the film. For example, there is a conversation during the party where they talk about Philip killing and strangling a chicken, but it got away. We also get a close shot of Philip's hands, when he cut them on the glass cup. This could further connote the fact that he has 'blood on his hands' after the murder.

There is also a sense within the film, where we begin to wonder if the two men are lovers. The film was made in a society in which gay relations wasn't very talked about, which could be the reason Hitchcock decided to make this suggestion so slight in the film. There is a scene in which the two men are talking just after the murder and Philip asks ''What did you feel while you were doing it?'' to which the reply was ''nothing, but afterwards felt amazing''. During this scene he also lights a cigarette which could connote the sign within film where they light a cigarette after sex.


Ebert, R. (2017). Rope Movie Review & Film Summary (1948) | Roger Ebert. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jan. 2017].
Hutchinson, P. (2017). My favourite Hitchcock: Rope. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 19 Jan. 2017].
Maher, M. (2017). The Power of Point of View (POV) Shots. [online] The Beat: A Blog by PremiumBeat. Available at: [Accessed 19 Jan. 2017].


Adiana, A. (2017). Cutting Edge Film Programme: Rope (1948). [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jan. 2017].
Derek Winnert. (2017). Rope **** (1948, James Stewart, Farley Granger, John Dall, Cedric Hardwicke, Joan Chandler, Constance Collier) – Classic Movie Review 428. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jan. 2017]. (2017). ROPE British Quad Movie Poster 1950s Alfred Hitchcock James Stewart. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jan. 2017].
Pinterest. (2017). Alfred Hitchcock's world - The rope - La corde. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Jan. 2017].

1 comment:

  1. Hi Polly,

    It sounds as though you appreciated this film :)

    Don't forget to label your illustrations, (Figure 1 etc) . This makes it easier for your reader to match the reference up with the image that it belongs to.
    Also make sure that you proof-read before posting... you have a strange sentence going on here -
    'This oils help to connote the drama within the scene and fur there to represent the emotions of the characters...'