Tieing up loose ends: The Rope


Every time when you hear “Hitchcock”, you start thinking in birds and bathtubs and wheelchairs. But probably never remember the Rope.  I somehow managed to skip this one earlier, but tonight, after like 20 minutes into the movie, it had dawned to me that this is one of the most under appreciated of his films, period. I don’t really like the idea of writing about something that well-known as Hitchcock here, but fuck it, since the movie is terrific, and it is really worth mentioning.

It was first A.H.’s movie in Technicolor and I guess, the first one with such long shots – basically the idea was to make it seem like it was made with using only one take for the whole hour. And the narrative is so well paced, that you do not even notice the lack of action, because you are just carried away by the dialogue.

Here we have two young fine gentlemen – Mr. Shaw and Mr. Morgan, who like Nietzsche a lot. They adore him just about enough that they start to believe they actually are Übermensch: “The few are those men of such intellectual and cultural superiority, that they are above the traditional moral  concepts. Good and evil, right and wrong were invented for the ordinary average man, the inferior man, because he needs them”. The movie was released only three years after the War (1948), and the theme was obviously still an open wound, even in a form of a discussion inside the movie, where Shaw refers to 18 as paranoid savage, whose “supermen” were a brainless murderers, which he’d hang first – for being stupid. Moreover, Shaw adds: “I’d hang all incompetents and fools anyway – there are too many of them in the world”.

And he does – the movie started with a strangling of Shaw’s and Morgan’s friend, David, because they wanted to do a perfect crime. And from that point, Shaw tries to make “the perfect plan” into a quest of proving his superiority by hosting a gathering for victim’s relatives and friends, when the victim is inside of a buffet table, still in the flat. Of course, the main theme of a small talk is also the Supermen and their right to kill others.

Shaw is a spoiled trickster-ish mastermind, which likes mischief in any form. Morgan is totally different, weaker and bitchy, yet still dedicated to the idea. It is implied that they may be lovers – which in times, when word “gay” still meant “happy/jolly” (“I just couldn’t be the gay girl”) and there were no rights for homosexuals yet, because there was no such “problem”, could actually make a perfect motif. A person cannot express their sexual identity, because that kind of love is not appropriate (and legal?) in the times.  Yet still, he has an idea, that he is better than everyone else, and the rage/frustration leads to thinking about ways to prove it to himself – in this case, showing superiority by playing god and killing a person and fooling others.

“The Rope” is loosely based on a real story of two teen murderers, who also had a perfect plan – just couldn’t make it happen. And even though at some point for me there was a bit too much of Agatha Christie vibes around and too obvious theatrical pathos, this movie is a vivid example, that the real horror is not supernatural – it is hidden in the eye of the one, (be)holding the rope.

Online (cut in small pieces):


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