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Author Topic: Rope (1948)  (Read 8824 times)
The Firecracker
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« on: June 30, 2007, 07:50:51 PM »

Hitchcock's thriller that takes place all in one apartment!

My favorite Hitch film next to "The Birds".


It's pretty much a flawless masterpeice. My only complaint being the cuts between shots were a little more than obvious, especially the later efforts.

Please discuss.

A Freudian anaylsis by Juan is welcome and a Freudian debunking by Jinkies is also welcome.

Both should be interesting reads.

« Last Edit: June 30, 2007, 07:54:50 PM by The Firecracker » Logged



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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2007, 08:10:26 PM »

Hitchcock's thriller that takes place all in one apartment!

My favorite Hitch film next to "The Birds".


It's pretty much a flawless masterpeice. My only complaint being the cuts between shots were a little more than obvious, especially the later efforts.

Please discuss.

A Freudian anaylsis by Juan is welcome and a Freudian debunking by Jinkies is also welcome.

Both should be interesting reads.

Thanks for the recommendation Firecracker! I love Hitchcock and haven't seen this.

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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2007, 09:37:48 PM »

I love love love love love it - and I've seen near 20 Hitchcock films.

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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2007, 12:26:03 AM »

There are several things from a technical standpoint that make the film interesting (it's interesting for other things as well, but I'll limit myself on this occasion). One is the experiment with long takes. If you read articles on the film you'll get a lot of erroneous info about those takes, so just to set the record straight, let me point you to the wikipedia entry on the film (which I contributed to): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rope_(film)

There you will find this bit of info:
Quote
Although it is commonly believed that all the cuts in Rope are hidden, in fact, only half are. Another misconception is that all the shots last ten minutes. Actually, of the ten shots used for the film, only three approach or exceed the ten minute mark. Five of the shots range between seven and eight minutes, and the penultimate and final shots last only about four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half minutes, respectively. A description of the beginning and end of each reel follows, with the approximate duration of each shot given in parenthesis.

    * R1 (9:34) CU strangulation to Blackout on Brandon’s back.
    * R2 (7:51) Black, pan off Brandon’s back to CU Kenneth: “What do you mean?”
    * R3 (7:18) Unmasked cut, men crossing to Janet to Blackout on Kenneth’s back.
    * R4 (7:08) Black, pan off Kenneth’s back to CU Phillip: “That’s a lie.”
    * R5 (9:57) Unmasked cut, CU Rupert to Blackout on Brandon’s back.
    * R6 (7:33) Black, pan off Brandon’s back to Three shot.
    * R7 (7:46) Unmasked cut, Mrs. Wilson: “Excuse me, sir.” to Blackout on Brandon.
    * R8 (10:06) Black, pan off Brandon to CU Brandon’s hand in gun pocket.
    * R9 (4:37) Unmasked cut, CU Rupert to Blackout on lid of chest.
    * R10 (5:38) Black, pan up from lid of chest to End.

Note that the opening titles is not considered one of the reels in the above. Note also that the masked cuts and unmasked cuts alternate, obviously the result of Hitchcock's original conception. A final irony: the masked cuts draw attention to themselves, so that audiences often notice them, but the standard cuts usually pass unremarked.

It's been reported that the limit a take could be was 10 minutes because that was all the film a camera could hold at that time. Nonetheless, R8 times out at 10:06, at least on video. I have never been able to time the takes in the cinema. So, either the 10 minute limit is an approximate limit, or home video has made everything longer.

Although Hitchcock later said the long take approach was a mistake, he actually tried it again for parts of his next film, Under Capricorn.

Rope is unique in that it has not one but two cameos by Hitchcock (one in life, one in neon).

There were several reasons why Hitchcock elected to try the long take approach on this film. One was to give the cinema-going audiences an experience comparable to what audiences in live theater enjoyed. Actually, a somewhat better experience, as the camera rested on stage with the actors and prowled about the set. By using this technique, however, Hitchcock had to forgo his usual practice of alternating objective-subjective cuts (only possible with montage). This in turn meant that Hitchcock also had to give up his usual practice of establishing viewer identification with his characters.

There is one exception. Late in the film (perhaps it's in R8), Brandon invites Rupert to imagine a hypothetical murder having occurred in the apartment. Rupert then relates the details. As he does so, the camera moves forward and positions itself in front of Rupert, so that it simulates his POV as he looks about the apartment and describes what he sees in reality and in his imagination (but not in flashback). For a brief moment, Hitchcock is able to overcome the limitations of the technique he is using in order to return to his standard operating procedure.

Interestingly, a similar scene occurs in the 1944 film with Charles Laughton, The Suspect (Robert Siodmak). In that movie, Laughton has murdered his wife (it's based on the Crippen case) and has apparently gotten away with it, when a Scotland Yard detective shows up and begins describing what he thinks happened. The camera assumes the POV of the murderer (again, not in flashback) as the detective talks. The camera moves about the apartment, looking where the murderer looked, seeing what the murderer saw. I do not doubt that Hitchcock saw The Suspect (he saw almost every crime film Hollywood made each year, he knew Laughton, he was keenly interested in the Crippen case) and filched that technique from Siodmak.

Turnabout, as they say, is fair play. In Rope, Hitchcock wrung black humor from the murder weapon as it migrated about the set. This was surely the inspiration for Bunuel's use of a similar piece of rope in his later film, Viridiana (1961).

« Last Edit: July 08, 2007, 09:32:11 PM by dave jenkins » Logged


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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2007, 02:58:05 AM »

I was this close to buy it (I know you can see my fingers, don't pretend) but then I bought The Big Lebowski and Killing Zoe instead.

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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2007, 07:07:30 AM »

A better move would have been to buy Lebowski and Rope.

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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2007, 07:08:13 AM »

A better move would have been to buy Lebowski and Rope.


I'm going to agree DJ on this one. Shocked

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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2007, 09:26:35 AM »

A better move would have been to buy Lebowski and Rope.
I'm sure that's true, but I had only a limited amount of money to use. Lebowski cost 6 euros and Killing Zoe 4 euros, but Rope alone cost 8 or 9 euros, so I propably would have bought only Rope and left Lebowski out.  Lips Sealed

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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2007, 08:14:11 PM »

Quote
In an attempt to regain control of his language, Rupert retreats to the notion of mysterious origins as a source of his authority—something deep inside you from the very start—making use of the structuralist “arche” or source of meaning as a defense of the structure against the distorting play of signifiers. The symmetry of the balanced sentence structure (“There’s something deep inside you”/ ”there’s something deep inside me”) reveals Rupert’s attempt to make a clear distinction between himself and Brandon, but instead such binary distinctions draw the two more closely together since Brandon uses similar balanced syntax (“Philip and I lived what you and I talked”). Rupert Cadell the structuralist attempts to remove from play internal principles like love and respect for the rights of individuals, but he finds himself caught up in the play of language, which undermines his attempts to make clear distinctions.

The phrase “something deep inside” further undermines Rupert’s attempt to use language to escape language, for his previous use of the term something suggests quite the opposite of a stable term whose stability might anchor his meanings. In fact, the word something seems like an empty nonsense term, a detached signifier. Earlier in the film Rupert mocks the inability of silly Mrs. Atwater (an unexpected guest at the party) to remember the name of a film. As she stumbles around trying to remember the film’s title, she muses, “He was thrilling in that new thing of Bergman’s . . . what was it called now? . . . the something of  the something. No, no, that was the other one. This was just plain something. You know, it was sort of, you know. . . .” She as much as says, “You know what I mean; I don’t have to choose a specific word to express a meaning we both share.” Rupert, however, denies that he knows what “something” means, parodying her vague speech which assumes common knowledge in her listeners to complete her ideas. He talks about a film whose title is “the something, something. Or was it just plain something. Really, something like that.” His repetition of the term something not only mocks her bad memory but makes obvious how empty a signifier something is.

But when Brandon challenges him to acknowledge his words justifying the right of the superior few to murder, Rupert resorts to the same term in the phrase “something deep inside” to bind his words to his meaning and to deny that his words ever meant what Brandon says. Earlier mocked as an empty signifier, something now ascends in Rupert’s discourse to the status of a transcendental signifier above the play of language—the signifier distinguishing Rupert from Brandon and preserving his words from Brandon’s misunderstanding. Of course Rupert has to repress the indeterminate and ungrounded nature of the term something, whose very repetition reveals a hidden sameness between its use by Mrs. Atwater and Rupert’s use. This term expresses without Rupert’s consent the hidden meaning that the faculty deep inside Rupert which keeps him from killing is, like Mrs. Atwater’s film title, something unremembered, something so insubstantial that it is now forgotten. Just as in Mrs. Atwater’s use, the term something in its vagueness signifies the absence of any reason or principle denying the right to murder another.

Despite Rupert’s declaration that “something deep inside” stands as the final authority, a structural guarantee of his meaning, the term something carries a trace of the opposite meaning: there is precisely nothing to guarantee Rupert’s meaning. Repetition of  terms can infect structures like Rupert’s, undermining even hidden intentions. This subversive quality of repetition is a motif in the film, frustrating the efforts of characters to pin down meaning, evident in Brandon’s stuttering, in repeated adjectives in expressions like “the real, real me,” in the film’s endlessly repeated camera movements, in the neon letter S appearing again and again through a window: over and over, sounds and images without meaning, repeated signifiers with no attached signified.
Thomas Hemmeter, “Twisted Writing: Rope as an Experimental Film,” in Hitchcock’s Re-released Films: From Rope to Vertigo, Walter Raubicheck and Walter Srebnick, ed. Wayne State U Press (1991), 258-260.

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« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2007, 09:41:52 PM »


Note that the opening titles is not considered one of the reels in the above. Note also that the masked cuts and unmasked cuts alternate, obviously the result of Hitchcock's original conception.
Reading through the chapter on Rope in Rohmer/Chabrol's classic work (Hitchcock, the First Forty-Four Films), I see that they explained this pattern in a footnote (91n1):
Quote
There was no other way. Hitchcock took into account the fact that projection reels are double (600 meters) the length of camera rolls. To pick up on the "black" of jackets would have required from the projectionists a precision that could not be regularly counted on in practice. For this reason, every 600 meters--approximately, since the length of shot sequences is unequal--we have a classic reverse shot.

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« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2007, 04:38:10 PM »

Watched this movie today. Wasn't so much impressed by the "continuous take" (have seen variations of it in various other movies/TV shows, and in any case the cuts were pretty obvious), but the acting and script writing blew me away. No longer is John Dall Olivier's dorky chrony from "Spartacus" - I'll be able to associate him with a good performance now! Wink And James Stewart gives one of his very best performances. A 9/10.

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« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2007, 05:54:17 PM »

Quote from: Groggy link=topic=5870.msg87917#msg8 917 date=1185835090
No longer is John Dall Olivier's dorky chrony from "Spartacus" - I'll be able to associate him with a good performance now! ;
But why are you overlooking his great performance in Gun Crazy? Could it be . . . could it possibly be . . . you've actually not yet *seen* Gun Crazy? Evil

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« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2007, 06:14:23 PM »

Blimey. ROPE is just plain ropey, and one of Hitch's most glaring failures. It's badly paced and poorly acted for the most part (it's got Farley Granger as a main character, f'r Christ sake!), and proved an exerimental clunker, though Hitch had always been interested in extended takes even from his earliest days in primative sound cinema (see for example the complex opening of NUMBER 17). That so many of you young 'un's are so keen on the thing now is interesting in itself.

Nobody has mentioned so far that it was an adaptation of a wildly successful stage play, which was one of the factors prompting Hitch to shoot the thing in real time as a bizarre attempt to replicate not cinematic reality, but a theatrical experience. Written by Patrick Hamilton, who also penned the smash hit GASLIGHT, both works earned the London based writer enough money that he could spend the rest of his life drinking himself to death. He also completed the brilliant novels HANGOVER SQUARE (also interestingly adapted by Hollywood) and SLAVES OF SOLITUDE (among others).

While certainly a standout piece in Jimmy Stewart's filmography due to his incredible performance, it's a curious footnote in Hitch's canon. Did the master of montage really think this was how he could bypass studio interference, and point the way to future productions? That he and Jack Cardiff would continue with immense long take experiments in UNDER CAPRICORN the following year, easily Hitch's worst film pre-TOPAZ, proves that in some way he did believe this. Thank goodness that he was soon disabused both by box office returns and the evidence on screen.

The story was based on the real life murder case involving a pair of would be, homosexual supermen, Leopold and Loeb. Other films based on their repuslive deeds were COMPULSION (featuring a near career best performance by Orson Welles) and SWOON, a piece of utter pointless garbage.

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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2007, 03:43:32 AM »

so I propably would have bought only Rope and left Lebowski out.  Lips Sealed

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« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2007, 12:21:09 PM »

You DO NEVER leave the Dude out. This is not 'nam, their are rules.

Sorry movieselection, the man speaks (writes) the truth.


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