The selected film Rope was shot almost a century ago and is A. Hitchcock’s first color film. The plot consists of two guys, representatives of the golden American youth inspired by the idea of a superman and killing their friend. They hide his body in a chest and call a party, where they invite their teacher, the parents of the murdered man, and the bride of the murdered man with friends. The protagonist Brandon demonstrates pompous calmness and self-confidence throughout the film. His friend Philip, on the contrary, is frightened and ashamed of what he has done. At the end of the evening, he gets drunk, and Mr. Kedell, their teacher, solves the crime.
Brandon exhibits the traits of a pathological narcissist who is confident in his righteousness. Perhaps he was born into a wealthy family, and in this environment, his personality type developed in this way (Miller, Kors, & Macfie, 2017, pp. 17-20). He is not subject to depression, doubt, and avoidance; however, maybe he wants to adapt to the people of high society around him by copying the views and behavior of his teacher Kedell. Copying as a way of adaptation is also characteristic for Philip in the first minutes of the party. It seems to him that he can copy Brandon’s behavior and avoid suspicion. However, later, Philip chooses a different way of adaptation without receiving success in copying. Philip feels stressed, anxious and uncomfortable, so he adapts by avoiding the social environment and communication. He asks Brandon to leave or stop the party, but he refuses, so Philip psychologically leaves the party, deciding to get drunk.
Unlike Philip, who is forced to adapt from the first minutes of the party, the situation escalates for Brandon only at the end, during a conversation with a teacher, whose views he respects very much. In this situation, Brandon begins to look for ways to adapt and finds them in denial. In the personality of the teacher, he seeks support. Throughout the party, Philip is ashamed and afraid; he can only avoid questions in his direction on an interpersonal level. For Philip, Brandon is an authority figure, and with his help, Philip wants to adapt to the situation, gaining emotional peace and stability. On the other hand, Brandon is trying to distract people’s attention from the absence of an already murdered friend, who was also cynically invited to the party. He gossips, jokes, and enjoys the attention to his person.
Sometimes aspects of human adjustment depend on the culture and community in which they are at the moment. A person can feel “exposure, individual, as well as family and community” (Chen, & Bonanno, 2020, p. 53). The culture of that time and that stratum of the population, which Hitchcock demonstrated, perhaps does not put pressure on high standards but still makes the characters keep their faces.
The social group, which was at the center of the plot, is built on a hierarchy by age, position, and educational level. Young people like Brandon and Philip are responsible for demonstrating respect and ethics to their elders, no matter how much they like their personalities. For Brandon, who, as mentioned above, has a high level of adaptation skill, this is not difficult. Moreover, he shows respect for the teacher in his narcissistic manner. Páramo Fernández et al. (2017) explored this adjustment mechanism using the example of young Spanish students: “Pre-university achievement was a significant predictor of institutional attachment, academic and social adjustment to university” (p. 70). It can be equated with the main characters since Brandon and Philip are also very young. Brandon is confident in his previous merits, unlike Philip, who loses control over his speech and behavior with every minute of the film. Brandon loves being part of the golden youth group, and he plays this role with obvious psychological pleasure. The symbolism of social functions until the end of the plot is significant for Brandon since it is in social parts, the approval of the teacher, and his figure that he finds ways to psychological adaptation. A specific circle of people is obliged, in his opinion, to admit Brandon and show respect for him. For Philip, who cannot cope with stress, this is no longer so important.
In the film reviewed, people can see how some of them avoid environments to which they cannot adapt, experiencing fear, shame, and stress. In an attempt to adjust, other people look down on others and demonstratively joke, joining communication. Such people often try to copy someone’s behavioral and speech patterns because they adapt precisely by creating a similar image in society. Internal feelings and struggle are shown in different ways in behavior, depending on self-confidence and already developed adjustment skills. When a crime is solved, the characters justify themselves, seeking protection and support from a teacher, an experienced and intelligent person, and authority.
Chen, S., & Bonanno, G. A. (2020). Psychological adjustment during the global outbreak of COVID-19: A resilience perspective. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(1), 51-54.
Hitchcock, A. (Director). (1948). Rope [Film]. Warner Bros, Transatlantic Pictures.
Miller, B. G., Kors, S., & Macfie, J. (2017). No differences? Meta-analytic comparisons of psychological adjustment in children of gay fathers and heterosexual parents. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 4(1), 14-22.
Páramo Fernández, M. F., Araújo, A. M., Tinajero-Vacas, C., Almeida, L. S., & Rodríguez-González, M. S. (2017). Predictors of students’ adjustment during the transition to university in Spain. Psicothema, 29(1), 67-72.