After the first time I had seen Psycho, I was invigorated with the purpose to watch every Hitchcock movie possible. In 2nd grade at the time, I began using my library card to rent every 10 pound Hitchcock VHS that they had. I was making great headway, having watched almost every one the library had to offer--but I couldn't help but notice that one of his films that I had looked very forward to seeing was absent. That Christmas after the initial Psycho viewing, my parents bought me a Hitchcock book--detailing every one of his movies, reviewing, and talking about its finer points and so on. The one that I became the most interested in was Rope. In its passage the author talked in great detail and apparent excitement about the fact that the film was shot in one continuous shot. The possibility of this statement boggled my mind. How could anyone shoot an entire movie in one shot?! I then made it one of my life goals to see Rope and find out what all the fuss was about.
I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to accomplish this, but perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. Had I seen this when I was in 2nd grade I would have watched and misinterpreted the movie the same way I had misinterpreted the books passage. The film is not one continuous shot rather, it is only made to look that way. It's a curious effect as it causes the film to appear to be in real time. It also tends to make things a lot more claustrophobic and practically causes us to shoot back the booze just like our friend Phil over there.
The entire film takes place in the apartment of Brandon and Phillip who have just murdered their former classmate David.
After strangling him with a rope, they stuff him into the chest that resides in the center of the sitting room. The motive behind it is to prove that they can really pull off the perfect murder. Brandon, who is more pleased than punch at what he has accomplished begins getting all these crazy thoughts. You see, the boys are about to have a party in the very apartment that they have just murdered someone. Brandon than believes that instead of serving the food on the dining table, they will instead serve the food on the chest that the dead David is inside of. And wait till you hear who is coming to this party. David's parents, his finance! Yes, it's all a little crazy hmm? Oh and Jimmy Stewart is their former prep-school headmaster who inspired this murder to take place. In school he used to speak about the art of murder and the intellectual concepts behind it. By committing the perfect murder one therefore gains a superiority over others. Apparently.
As you may assume, there isn't much that happens. Guests come and Brandon stirs things up. Phil grows increasingly more anxious and takes a liking to the vast supply of alcohol. The question of the night remains, "Where is David?" and Brandon gets more and more excited the closer people to get to worrying while Phil just gets drunker. There is one particularly brief moment of anxiety as the chest almost gets opened, but its flame is quickly distinguished. All goes well until Jimmy Stewart's character returns to the apartment looking for his cigarette case. It is now that the final showdown happens--but can you really call it that? If Rope was a heart monitor I would imagine its line would be a steady beat, briefly jutting up when a gun is wrestled from Phil's hand and then back to normalcy. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, although many would argue that the appeal of Rope lies solely in the illusion of the continuous shot.
I wouldn't say I completely agree but I do find it to be one of the less suspense inducing films of Hitchcock's. This is strange considering that unbeknownst to everyone except two people, there is a dead body in the room. I did enjoy seeing Phil battle with his conscience and watching his degradation happen. He quite obviously was not into this idea from the start, yet his strange loyalty to Brandon prevents him from ever backing down. Perhaps it's really all about the characters, or the subtext of Nietzsche and what is really meant by gaining superiority over others. I'm not sure it really is though. I still feel like the film is mostly about the one shot. I read somewhere that a critic once complained that he wished Hitchcock would have chosen a more interesting subject to use this new age technique on--and perhaps I agree. Rope will not be one of my favorites I don't think, but thank goodness I've finally watched it so that my life can go on.
This trailer is very interesting as that whole park scene was filmed solely for the trailer and is not in the film.