Monday, December 26, 2011

Out-Rommeling Hitch

I am a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney and recently bought a couple of DVDs inlcuding The Birds, Marnie, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rope & Norht by Norhtwest, special editons with making of´s. It is amazing how much you can learn from this documentaries. Hitchcock who was a master in every sence of filmmaking turned several times to the Disney Studio to help him with sfx and one of Walt Disney´s closest artists, Ub Iwerks, did supervise some very specifal sfx in The Birds.

Rope is a very special movie, Hitchcock wanted to make it look as if shot in one single take, but as film could only run for ten minutes in the camera and then had to be replaced. The solution Hitchcock used is already mentioned in Francois Truffaufts excellent book on Mr. Hitchcock, they stopped shooting on the back of an actor, replaced the film and started shooting on the back of the actor. One of Hitchcock´s crew members who is interviewed in the making of said, actually this was not very convincing, and I agree, that Hitchock could have done this far better.

While still watching the docu I thought how the problem could have been resolved in another way. I remembered when I had my interview for a job at Walt Disney Company, they asked us if we had been in the army, as this would help a lot getting along.
I alsways admitered Rommel who was also a Genralstab teacher who taught young officers how to make right and good decisions. Rommel told them something he experienced in WW 1: He should conquer a small farm on a hill held by enemy soldiers and he asked the young officers, how to do this. They suggested all some way of attacks involving the possibilitiy of being killed while attacking. Finally Rommel told them how he actually did it: He got some fireworks amuntion, shot it at the farm, the farm was set on fire, the enemy soldiers retreated, Rommel and his soliers walked over. Mission accomplished. No soldier of Rommel killed, no enemy soldier killed. I always was fascinated how Hitchcock and Rommel solved problems and I started thinking this way around and here is my suggestion for shooting Rope in one singl take:

When the two guys kill their victim, the victiom is hurt and blood is dripping. They put the dead body in the box, and then Hitchcock could have always stopped shootin after ten minutes rolling the camera towards the box, stopping, and showing each time one more drip of blood dripping out of the box, increasing the suspense if Jimmy Stewart or someone else will notice this sooner or later.
Anyway I think this would have created much more suspense than stopping on the back of an actor which was far too obvious and artificial and would have hidden much better the fact that the film had to be changed.