Rope (1948) – The Party Begins
Murder is the most heinous of crimes, according to just, at least. Every culture does consider murder as a first grade crime. Often murder is done on purpose, planned and executed for some ones personal welfare, and in some cases merely an emotional blunder committed by the murderer. Will someone conceive and stage a murder just for the sack of committing it? Even if so, will someone derive a bizarre thrill by going to an extent of throwing a party in the same home, just after staging a murder?
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope”, a thriller adapted from a stage play, is a hard hitting film that manages to make the viewer feel the violence without actually showing it. The film opens with a top view angle showing an ordinary street, with its usual busyness. The camera pulls back and focuses on a curtained window. Cut. The camera opens within the house, a man being just strangled to death by a duo, the man giving up his life with a shriek.
If the viewer is shocked to see the murder without warning, reserve some more, for the murderers enjoy their act. They call the cold blooded murder of theirs a work of art. The dead man is David Kentley. And the murderers are his buddies Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Philip Morgan (Farley Granger). Through Brandon, in an elated tone, we learn that the duo committed the crime- well they don’t consider it to be- just perhaps as an intellectual exercise to prove their superiority of committing a murder and get away with it, unfound.
They plan their crime, and arrange for a party in their home, just after the murder. The invitees include the victim’s father, Mrs. Atwater David’s aunt, Janet Walker Brandon’s ex and David’s fiancé, Kenneth Lawrence her broke up boyfriend, and more important of all Mr. Rupert (James Stewart) their prep-school master who had spoken at length about the act of Murdering, back in school days.
From the start Brandon is dominating, dangerously bold, and convinced about his deed- in fact ecstatic about it. On the contrary, Philip- who actually strangles David while Brandon only holds him – is emotionally turbulent, yielding, and rather confused over the morality of his crime. His face always flashes his wavering mindset and fear is stuck all over it, besides his at most efforts to get his face not to mirror his mental turbulence. Brandon is not saturated with his thrill even after staging his act of crime, but eyes for more. He goes on to an extent of setting up the buffet for the guests over the very same wooden chest within which the corpse is hidden. The party begins.