Rope – A Study of the “One-Shot”

Joe Randeen/ Films, News & Thoughts, Storytelling

This week the Intro and Intermediate film class are analyzing one of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces – Rope. The two main topics are the “One-Shot” and the character development.

Rope is about two young men in New York City who, as an intellectual exercise, commit the perfect murder. Brandon Shaw (played by John Dall) and Philip Morgan (played by Farley Granger) strangle their former Harvard classmate David Kentley (played by Dick Hogan). After committing the murder, the duo stuff the body in a wooden chest — the centerpiece of a party at their apartment. Invited to the party: David’s father, aunt, fianceé, and close friend. The idea for the murder, partly, came from conversations with their prep school housemaster Rupert Cadell (played by James Stewart). Conversations at the party range from philosophy to the strange disappearance of David. Brandon, calmly, interacts with guests. Philip, however, becomes nervous and wracked with guilt.

The film takes place in one setting — the duo’s apartment. Each shot runs for around 10 minutes, or the length of a film camera magazine. Having only one setting creates a familiarity with the story and the characters. The audience knows the duo’s point-of-view, creating a more in-depth relationship than with the other characters. Though we may not agree with their actions, audiences are given a fuller explanation of their motives because of the time spent with them. [cont. reading]

The film has a look of being film in “one-shot,” in real-time.  The same can be seen in the recent film 1917.  It’s an amazing technique that brings the viewer into the movie, as if we were there, with them.

If you have never seen this movie – please do.  It’s well worth the time.

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