Hitchcock’s ‘Rope’ reminded me of Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’. Just like Raskolnikov, Brandon and Phillip commit murder to get rid of worthless people of the world.But that is where the analogy ends.
While Raskolnikov was filled with remorse, Brandon and Phillip are proud of this crime and present a macabre setting of a dinner party, to which the victim’s parents and fiance are invited, while the body lies inside a chest on which the dinner is laid.
Much has been written about the fascinating way in which the film is shot, supposedly in a single long take with only eight cuts. But then I’m ignorant about the techniques of film-making and can only recognize the film for what it is worth – the dialogue!
Included in their guest list is their old professor, Rupert Cadell, who although was a sound believer in Nietzche, did not approve of murder. You literally hang to the edge of your seat while Brandon and Phillip play cat-and-mouse with their professor before he can unravel the truth.
The modern viewer today would have seen multiple flicks which present a slick chase scene , car chases or plain old chase by running (‘Casino Royale’ anyone?) but this movie presents a chase scene in 1948 like never before, chase by conversation, a thriller with words.
Brandon:The good Americans usually die young on the battlefield, don't they? Well, the Davids of this world merely occupy space, which is why he was the perfect victim for the perfect murder. Course he, uh, he was a Harvard undergraduate. That might make it justifiable homicide.
Rupert Cadell:By what right do you dare to say that there's a superior few to which you belong?
As the professor suspects his ex-students and grills them about murders, you wonder why would Brandon and Phillip invite him to the dinner. The answer to that lies in what Agatha Christie has often written about ‘The pride of the murderer showing off his skills’.
I hear that the movie is loosely based on a real life incident on the case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the sons of two very wealthy Chicago families; in 1924 Leopold and Loeb, in part under the sway of Leopold’s rather reductive and simplisitc reading of Nietzsche, decided to prove themselves Nietzschian supermen by committing a perfect murder, an act for which Nathan Leopold, in his autobiography, Life Plus 99 Years (1957), expresses remorse.
Like every Agatha Christie addict, I thrive on unearthing the murkier nature of the human side, where the murder itself is not half as fascinating as the reason behind it.Watch this amazing thriller if you are a fan of murder mysteries, after all it is the month of Halloween.