Nobody ever really feels safe in the dark…
August the 13th see's in Alfred Hitchcock's 117th Birthday. A posthumous celebration (so Rope seemed a fitting viewing for the day!) of course as he passed away in 1980 at the age of 80. He was working on a movie right up until he was taken ill and died from kidney failure.
I wonder how many more films he may have contributed to hollywood had he gone on a little longer? He clearly wasn't retiring although was slowing down, especially with Alma falling ill too, although she outlasted him a further two years before passing away herself. Retirement is overrated, at least, the idea of completely stopping is. I don't suppose anybody really stops. There is gardening to be done and families to inspire. Perhaps a lot of people don't really start living again until they retire!
I don't really plan on retiring in the traditional sense. The life of a creative doesn't seem to allow for it. Perhaps that will change as I get older, but until then I am with Henry Moore… Art is living.
"There's no retirement for an artist. It is your way of living so there is no end to it"
This is a story about two men who want to be caught. They may have different reasons for that but ultimately they are both looking for a release from what they've done. The film begins with David being strangled to death, easy peasy, nice and simple! No spoilers there really… What proceeds is a sort of twisted house party where Brendon's continuous dropping of hints and Philips spontaneous outbursts of fear set them on course for the inevitable reveal.
Brendon wants to be caught because he's the mastermind. What's the point in killing someone, hiding their body in near plain-sight during the house party and then never actualy revealing that the body was there the whole time?! If you go to those kind of efforts then you really want credit for it!
Philip wants to be caught because he's genuinely ashamed of what the pair have done and in many ways has been forced upon him by Brendon and by getting caught it will offer him release from this game of entrapment that he's been drawn in to.
The thrill of watching this comes from Philip though as he's the wild card, any wrong word in any conversation might instantly set him off and it's down to Brendon to control that. Although Brendon wants to be caught, he wants the party to go down well first! There's canapés to be had and a twisted bit of match-making to be done with Janet and Keneth, fiancée and best-friend of the newly deceased.
It's a very conversation driven, which you'd expect as it's derived from a play, but the real charm of the film is that it cleverly holds you, unrelentingly, by way of being a seemingly continuous shot movie… the first of it's kind I might add! I say 'seemingly' though because, unlike modern day equivelents (such as the stunning 'Russian Ark' from 2002 or more recently 'Victoria', shot overnight on the streets of Berlin) which can actually be filmed in one shot with modern technology, Rope was filmed at a time when the average length of a reel of film was only 10-15 minutes. Hitchcock managed to work around this by panning to inanimate objects in the room every so often - flowers, buffet boards, paintings and so on - which then allowed for new film to be loaded and the shot to continue like no time had passed!
Just another of the many reasons why he should and is considered one of the most important film makers of all time… It's not all about the shower scene you know!