Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Cutting Edge - Rope

Fig 1.

Rope (1948)

Director - Alfred Hitchcock

Two young men with a superiority complex feel that they are morally above the law and the culling of humans should be allowed by the intellectuals of society. To demonstrate their ideal they strangle their friend with a piece of rope and hide his body in their apartment. They then decide to pull of a daring stunt by inviting their dead friend’s family and friends over for dinner while the body is hidden right under their noses.

Fig 2.

This film is an amazing technical feat being pretty much unedited and in one shot through the whole movie, only needing to be cut because of the technical constraints of film reels that at the time only lasting ten minutes. This must have put a massive strain on the actors abilities as each shot would last for ten minutes and one mistake would mean the whole shot being re-filmed. Variety reports that "Hitchcock put his cast and technicians through lengthy rehearsals before turning a camera." Preparation must have been paramount to make this work, if it went wrong there would have been a huge wastage of film that could easily put the film way over budget. This film is very much a dialogue film perhaps partially due to the way it was filmed, this did seem to slow the plot a little and Time Out reiterates "the lack of cutting inevitably slows things down". Although in some places it's feels like it hinders the plot in others it provides added tension as the characters are going about normal activities with no idea that there is a dead friend in the room.

Fig 3.

Ultimately the non edit fashion in which the film was made gives a sense of immersion that may not have otherwise existed, like you were in the front row of the theatre or even on the stage as a guest at the party. This helped to add another level of chill; the atmosphere could really be felt. The New York Times goes on to say that "The film is so chilly you could ice champagne in it or place it around a silver serving dish of fresh caviar." A must see if not just for the story but also for its technical ability.

Image bibliography

Fig 1. Rope, DVD cover, 1948, [photography],

Fig 2. Rope, Movie still, 1948, [photography],

Fig 3. Rope, Movie still, 1948, [photography],


Rope: A Stunt To Behold (1984), The New York Times, [Online] avaliable at [Accessed 02 February 2011]

Rope (1984), Time Out, [Online] avaliable at [Accessed 02 February 2011]

Rope (1947), Variety, [Online] avaliable at [Accessed 02 February 2011]

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