Monday, 22 February 2010

Film: Rope, 1948, Alfred Hitchcock

Today and for my happiness,we had again a movie lecture (I was missing them already), this time we were shown the film Rope directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this film is famous for no editing, apart from a scene in the beginning when is a transition between the road and the interior of the house, where the film takes place.

The plot is concentrated on two young men, who committed a murder of their "inferior" classmate and supposed friend, and they decide to held a party to commemorate it, invinting the victim's parents for dinner and some other friends. As they hide the body on a old chest, they also set the dinning table on it, to create this ironic situation. When they start the party everything seems all right, but as it proceeds throughout the afternoon, a missing of one guest, the victim, arises suspections to what may have happened to him.
A lot of nerve-racking situations happen to the two murderers in the party, but they get away with. However, just when they thought they had ' survived' the night, a "cunning fox" guest, more specifically their teacher, played by James Stewart, discovers what really happens.

On the technical side of the film and as I mentioned before, this film has no editing at all, it was recorded in series of 10 minute takes, that all together would create a film. As I sat down I thought I just hope it will not be full of bumps and quite slow, but I was wrong, and Alfred Hitchcock could not create such a thing, the compilation of the whole takes is mastered by simple camera movements into dark parts of the set.. In my opinion, this film is a masterpiece of cinema, because it adopts other way of presenting a film, more like theatrical way, as if the actors are on stage provoking the spectator to be there but at the same time not.
So how could a film exist without editing, I could answer it by saying that it would be the Editor's worst nightmare, but in fact, the excellent camera manipulation added to a right pacing can create it.

One of the things that this film doesn't really need is a fast editing as we can see in films nowadays,as it would lose all the suspense scenes, for example,the scene where Mrs. Wilson, the maid, is cleaning the dinner table/ chest where the body is hidden, is exhaustive, but at the same time is building the suspense, and the spectator is feeling every step of hers back and forth.
Otherthing that really struck me, was the scene when James Stewart's Character, the teacher is suspicious of what happen, and starts to explain really what they have done. the camera moves are the vehicule in which Hitchcock demonstrates the whole scene with no actors in it. As I was presented with that scene, the lack of characters, made me imagine what really happened there witht the only the help of the set, a perfect example of Hitchcock's opinions.

" Actors are cattle"

Finally this film is not outdated, as some people may think, although it doesnt have the fast-paced editing, that audience needs nowadays, it has other qualities, from amazing performances by the actors to the amazing suspense built with all the time waiting for the actors wandering throughout the set. Also a true film, where nothing is explicit, but rather in the spectator's mind picture everything, just like its end.

Also, Phil mentioned how Psychoville series, used Rope's way of filming and applied to one of their episodes.

I found a really interesting video explaining in a few words how they did it. A lot of work but a perfect homage to Hitchcock.

P.S- I just have to watch the episode now.


tutorphil said...

Thanks for posting this, Rubes... and don't worry, come Unit 5, it's movies all the way!

Ruben Alexandre said...

cool, cant wait, for now still some concept design and storyboarding :)