Thursday, June 5, 2008

Top Films: Rope

60 years ago, Hitchcock made a movie that was so technically experimental, that the story and theme were overshadowed and somewhat forgotten. Rope was an attempt to tell a story in long takes, even an attempt to make it seem almost like one long take. Unfortunately, the experiment failed as it robbed the movie of a lot of the dramatic effect that editing allows.

The story told in Rope, however, was important and is relevant today. It was based on the true story of two young men who decided to put Nietzsche’s philosophy into effect and kill someone—simply to do it. This very real result of an idea has grown until today you have teens planning to kill as many fellow students as they can simply to set a record. Films have also grown and expanded on the idea. A short list of movies that owe something to Rope could include: The Frighteners, Funny Games (both versions), Scream, Murder by Numbers, and The Strangers.

In Hitchcock’s day, the actual murder was not the story. The idea was to follow the pair as they reveled in their “superiority” until things unraveled and they were discovered, to the shock and horror of their former teacher. It turns out that he had always played with dangerous ideas, and now they had come back to scare him when they were put into action.

Our society has been playing with dangerous ideas ever since and today these sorts of stories focus on the murders, because it is no longer shocking but all too possible and the scary thing is to think, “this could really happen to me.” We have come to a point in society where, for far too many people, life has no value.

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