Quite possibly one of the first things learned about editing, whether in a class or on the job, is that “good” editing is invisible. Alfred Hitchcock known for thrilling stories that demanded a big screen cinematic backdrop to play out on, and his adaption of Patrick Hamilton’s play “Rope” seemed odd. The whole movie was set in a single room, where there was no mystery exactly but rather the tension in the murderers mind of getting caught, so perhaps the challenge lay in the contained nature of the story. Hitchcock marveled it, decided that it would be his first Technicolor production (he chose the single set movie for his first Technicolor movie) and then attempted to create the illusion of a single take movie with no obvious cuts between scenes.
While these days single takes are almost commonplace, it was certainly a bold move in that era of late 40’s and even if through contemporary eyes the experiment didn’t quite work, it’s still a lot of fun to watch. Vashi Nedomansky has put together a pretty nice 3-minute compilation collecting the ten edits Hitchcock tried to hide in thriller “Rope” (constraints of film production at the time meant he could only shoot ten minutes continuously at any one stretch). They are pretty fascinating to watch, and really very clever too. Ultimately, it’s just one more reminder of Hitchcock’s confidence both as a storyteller and technician.
If you haven’t seen the film yet, definitely carve out an hour and a half of your busy day to check it out and try and spot the edits yourself. Or you could check out this video uploaded by Vashi that pinpoints all 10 in Hitchcock’s film.( Note: There are serious spoilers for those new to the film.)