Rope 1948 Film

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Essay on the Film Rope (1948)


In brief, Rope (1948) is an amazing movie revolving around a murder committed by two young men, Phillip and Brandon. The two commit what, to them, is the perfect murder by strangling a friend of theirs to death. They then call a party attended by, amongst others, the victim’s dad. The entire evening is a contrast of sorts with Brandon largely remaining composed throughout the night and Philip being confused, surly, and glum. The party proceeds without incident, despite several uncomfortable engagements between the invitees and the two. In the end it is Rupert, a former teacher of theirs, who unravels the ‘perfect murder’ after he makes way back to the house and engages Brandon in a ‘cat-and-mouse’ conversation regarding the disappearance of David (the murder victim).

From the movie, it appears that the conversations Phillip and Brandon had with Rupert were largely the driving force behind this particular murder. It is clear from the movie that Rupert is not only an intelligent, but also a convincing man. His references to De Quincey’s and Nietzsche’s works ingrained into the two young minds a haunting concept. As Darrow observed, in his speech at the sentence hearing of Leopold and Loeb, the actions of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb could indeed be a philosophy that the two picked from university. Leopold and Loeb, like Brandon and Philip in the movie, are responsible for the murder of Robert who is 14 at the time of his murder.
In this case, Darrow theorizes that the crime committed by Leopold and Loeb is not a crime of their own design but an influence from an outside force. The outside force in this case includes not only their teacher(s) at the university, but the society at large which, according to Darrow has promoted death at home as well as in the playgrounds and streets. It is the same society in which Leopold and Loeb grew up in. In the same breath, it could be said that the crime committed by Brandon and Philip is not of their own design but is a result of their ‘culturing’ from early on. For instance, in De Quincey’s work, which the two were incidentally exposed to in prep-school, murder is regarded a fine art, just as is painting and singing. The macabre nature of murder is normalized and the sanctity of life is discarded. In the same way, Darrow talks of a society where human life is cheap, and blood is equally cheap. A society where even the government, which ought to ensure that order, justice, and fairness prevail in the society, actively participates in the taking away of life. Why should those who are brought up and cultured in such a society not take life as well?

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