So there I was...waiting for the schoolbus to arrive when I start playing around with the remote and what do I see? One of my favorite movies, Rope, is on at 5 pm Eastern Time. TCM Turner Classic Movies. Talk about the intense joy I feel. I LOOOOVE this movie
Ah the joys of favorite movies! If I try to figure out what I like about the movie, I guess I could talk about Aristotle and the three unities but dang, that's not it. Sure all the action is scrunched up in one little night in one little place but that's not really it. The entire film feels scrunched. The actors seem squeezed together to fit into the scene, the actors are flustered as they rush to fit all their words into Hitchcock's articial "one take" and there is all that panning and all that sooming into and stopping the camera onto the back of a suit to change the reel.
But what really gets me about this film -- and yes, I have a major Farley Granger crush and have had it all my life it seems-- is how jumpy and stressed the film makes the viewer. I've seen modern flicks try to tighten the screws on characters and make a film which leaves the viewer on the edge of his/her chair unable to breathe. DOA, Torque.
But somehow they don't quite work as this one does. Because what makes it really work, i think, is the relentlessness of it all. There is a deep desire in the viewer to let the bad guys get away with their crime. The minute they do it, we know their personalities will be the downfall of them. Guilt is gonna get one of them, arrogance the other. Even then, although they are utterly unheroic characters, we want them to ...get away unpunished. Because they are human.
But our desire is thwarted, and it's like watching one's friends do something stupid ....and one simply cannot stop them in time...or save them. This, i think, is one of the things that makes this story essentially Christian. Watching one guy make a really bad arrogant decision and watching his stressed-out wimpy friend be dragged along for the ride. ...and thinking...oh my god, oh my god, there is no way out for them now..... unless a miracle occurs. And all the time wanting the bad guys to succeed, not because they are such nice people, but because they are so like us sometimes...on a train with no turning back... and the only thing we can do is to beg and pray and hope that they get away with evil. Perverse joy, i know...but joy nevertheless.