Film Review - Rope (1948)

Rope is an American crime thriller film that was directed in 1948 by Alfred Hitchcock. The story was based on a play by Patrick Hamilton in 1929. Rope was Hitchcock's first Technicolour film and the film was also filmed to look as if it was one long and continuous shot. The plot of the film follows two aesthetes named Phillip Morgan and Brandon Shaw, who murder their old classmate; David Kentley. They put his body in a wooden chest and host a dinner party, inviting David's father, aunt, fiancee and her former partner who was once David's friend.
Figure 1. Rope (1948)
This film features Hitchcock's famous technique of creating tension through revealing information tot he audience but then keeping the characters in the dark. "Hitchcock always wanted to make his audience suffer, and with Rope, guilt, the guilt that Brandon should be feeling, is what makes us miserable. The murderers need an audience to applaud their crimes, and with their dinner guests in the dark, our privileged knowledge of what's in the trunk makes us uneasily complicit in what they've done." (Hutchinson,2012) The tension featured in this film means that it is often credited as difficult to watch as from the beginning of the film the tension begins with showing the murder occurring. 

The film is known for having underlying homosexual tension between Philip and Brandon as they were gay lovers in the play. "When first seen, the duo is strangling their chosen victim, whose body goes limp as life seeps out of him; Brandon and Phillip recompose themselves as if awkwardly cleaning up post-coitus, complete with a was-it-good-for-you cigarette to soothe jangled nerves. Their crime clearly stands for another illicit act, and its braiding of outlaw (homo) sex" (Croce,2006) The film could be making a link between hiding the murdered body and hiding sexuality at the time in which the film is set.

Figure 2. Rope (1948)
The film uses lighting to build up tension and an atmosphere of unease. The red colour suggests death and so when it is projected on the rope which was used to murder David it helps to give impact behind the object used to murder. This can be seen in figure 2 above."Red and its opposite, green, are the two colors that stand out most in this film. In Hitchcock's world, these colors consistently symbolize the opposing forces of life/power and death/inertia. Many of the twinkling lights in "Rope's" panoramic view of New York are either red or green, suggesting a world in which life and death swirl eternally." (Gunz,2005) The green lighting creates an atmosphere that feels uneasy, yet it could be seen to represent life. This could connote how both Philip and Brandon are going to loose their freedom due to their crimes and so their free lives will be over. This can be seen during the end scene where they are discovered and it is shown in figure 3.

Figure 3. Rope (1948)


Hutchinson,P. (2012) 'My favourite Hitchcock: Rope' At: (Accessed 10/02/2017)

Croce,F (2006) 'Rope Review' At: (Accessed 10/02/2017)

Gunz,J. (2005) "Rope': The Movie Director Who Came To Dinner' At: (Accessed 10/02/2017)


Figure 1. Rope [Film Still] At: (Accessed 10/02/2017)

Figure 2. Rope [Film Still] At: (Accessed 10/02/2017)