Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Film Review: The Rope (1948)

Alfred Hitchcock's The Rope is essentially a play in the form of a film. The entire film takes place within a singular set that is viewed through numerous angles throughout.
The story begins with the murder of a man named David. He is strangled by a piece of rope by two of his former classmates by the names of Brandon Shaw and Philip Morgan respectively.

Fig 1: The Rope Movie Poster

The murderers then stow the body away in a table that can store things. Think more of a chest and a table hybrid. To make the situation even better, the two throw a party where they invite the fiancee of the murder victim and her father. The party goes on at a rate where the audience is decently engaged in the conversation of the actors. Hitchcock has the talent of guiding the viewers' eyes to a particular area of the film so that they pay perfect attention to what they are supposed to. Everything is crystal clear. One feels like a mute being amongst the cast as one knows certain bits of the story that the characters do not. In this case, the audience is made aware from the very beginning that there is a body in the room. Everyone else in the room is oblivious to this idea. This is the main element that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. As reviewer Bosley Crowther states, "he has made his camera a random observer in an elegant suite of rooms in which a murder is being committed just as the picture begins" Crowther,Bosley.1948.New York Times Film Review.The Rope 1948
Fig 2: Shaw(left) and Morgan

As the party progresses, Shaw and a classmate named Rupert Cadell discuss the idea of murder and how it should be allowed only to certain humans who are considered superior in intellect. They also argue about the idea of who is to decide the levels of superiority of each individual.
Another aspect of the movie that keeps the audience interested in the film is the right amount of theatricality in the acting of the cast. The expressions and actions are exaggerated to just the right degree so as to not be too unbelievable but not to monotonous to be too real. According to reviewer Jason Pitt, "Everyone involved, from an acting standpoint, handle themselves quite well" Pitt, Jason. Critical Film Review. The Rope 1948
 One particular scene which holds a high level of significance when it comes to generating a sense of tension amongst the audience is the one where the camera is placed awkwardly between the table where the body is hidden and the rest of the characters. The only person in the frame is the maid who can be seen clearing the table. A conversation can be heard in the back but is paid no heed to as the audience is awaiting in bated breath for the killers to be exposed. However, they are not, for as the maid lifts the lid of the table, Shaw cleverly engages her in conversation and tells her to go home.
Fig 3: The Engaging Scene Involving The Table
The end of this story is particularly engaging as it involves Cadell finding out about the body and using a gun to fire into the sky and call the police. The scene fades out with the three- Shaw, Morgan and Cadell sitting in the living room, awaiting the police's arrival. They seem rather calm for people who are involved with murder.
By watching this film, it is made clear that Alfred Hitchcock is certainly very skilled in engaging the audience in a storyline and generating a strong sense of tension with as few edits as possible. As reviewer Christopher Null rightly states, "(Hitchcock is)the Master of Suspense" Null, Film Review. The Rope 1948.


Null, Film Review. The Rope 1948. Available online at Accessed on 8th February 2012

Crowther,Bosley.1948.New York Times Film Review.The Rope 1948 Available online at
Accessed on 8th February 2012

Pitt, Jason. Critical Film Review. The Rope 1948. Available online at Accessed on 8th February 2012

Illustration List

Fig 1: Hitchcock,Alfred.1948.The Rope  Available online at Accessed on 8th February 2012

Fig 2:Hitchcock,Alfred.1948.The Rope Accessed on 8th February 2012

Fig 3:Hitchcock,Alfred.1948.The Rope Accessed on 8th February 2012

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