Monday, 24 February 2014

Film Review: Rope (1948)

Fig 1

Rope is a classic thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1948. The film does not consist of any editing that you would see in modern films and the acting is naturalistic which leads the audience to believe that what they are seeing is in real time. That is not to say that there is not editing within Rope, there is, just not as much editing you would see other films that rely on editing to get the narrative across. It is directed in a way which you would consider it to be a continuous film and it was filmed in this way to represent the qualities of theater on a screen production.  It was a challenge for the director to get across the quality of a theater production on play screen and this was said in the New York Times by Vincent Canby, ''Hitchcock was interested in seeing whether he could find a cinematic equivalent to the play, which takes place in the actual length of time of the story'' (Canby, 1984). The breaks that usually occur within Rope  are done by panning across someone's back to a dark frame where he would cut the film and replace it with another. The result of a film that doesn't use the use of conventional montage by cutting from one frame to another gave the film an unusual, eerie feel to it, which is suited to the overall film.

Rope is an 80 minute film that is made out to be longer with its theater qualities to it, the set was built with this in mind Arbunkle explains the use of set design in his review, “In Rope, (Hitchcock) used a set with walls built on wheels so that he could have the cameras move unimpeded around the film’s group of three rooms.” (Arbunkle, 1999). This helps Hitchcock keep the sense of a continuous film coupled with realistic New York city backgrounds and you have a setting that is convincing of being in real time (Fig. 2). 

Fig 2.
The long takes that give the film a sense of continuation also can give a sense of suspense as Fernando F. Croce states, '' Far from just "recording a play," the suffocating long takes enforce ethical contemplation by refusing the relief of a cut '' (Croce, 2006) this is shown in the scene with the maid when she is preparing the coffee table with the body inside (Fig 3.) 
With the use of a contiguous shot and one point perspective the audience is led to focus on the situation that is about to happen. An example of this is when the maid and Rupert are staring at the box with Dave inside creating a sense of tension and suspense. Hitchcock uses a technique where the audience has more information than the characters, within Rope the audience know about the body inside the box where the characters are completely oblivious to the situation. 

Fig 3.

Illustration List:

Fig 3. Rope [Film Still], From Rope - Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. At: (Accessed on 24.02.2014)

Fig 2. Rope From Rope - Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock (Accessed on 24.02.2014)

Fig 1. Rope Poster(1948) From: Rope – Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock.
At: (Accessed on 21.01.2014)

Canby, V. 1984, Rope - Film Review: [online]
At: (Accessed on 21.01.2014)

Arbunkle, W. (1999) Hitchcock's Film Interiors: Home Is Where The Knife Is (Accessed on 24.012014)

Croce, F. 2006, Rope - Film Review: [Online]
At: (Accessed on 24.02.2014)


  1. Hi - please complete the survey and then leave a 'done it' comment on the ISS post: see link:

    Many thanks!

  2. Hi Anthony,

    You have discussed the use of the continuous shot well here :)
    It might have been good to also talk about the sound design as a means of creating tension too; the ticking metronome, for example, or the discordant piano music...

    You have some strange formatting going on, with bits and pieces highlighted? You don't need to highlight the quotes, just make sure that they are italicised... also, make sure that your font is consistent in style and size.