Of course, there are many cinema figures, each with their own characteristics and their importance in giving atmosphere to a film. This is particularly the case for the closed-door. As Marc Dingreville, a fervent cinema-lover and director of the Domont cinema, explains to us, the huis clos draws its principles from the theatre, which is conducive to the exercise of style due to its configuration. Let’s take a look back at films that have become cult films, in particular thanks to the use of closed doors.
A little reminder of the huis clos, a catalyst of emotions
Closed-door is a sub-genre that is widely used in cinema, leading (sometimes) to great films. The use of this figure is based on suppressing the multiplication of places and other large spaces. The film thus takes place in a single place (or almost), it can be in a house, a public place, a room?
The spectator is thus plunged into total immersion, with the feeling of being part of the scenes, even living them. According to Marc Dingreville, the closed-door experience thus exacerbates emotions, as it allows the viewer to focus completely on the story, and more particularly on the characters. The result? A deep intensity, more powerful feelings, a special atmosphere.
And all the genres now apply the principle of the closed door! There are as many thrillers as there are horror films, including science fiction, among others.
Memorable films behind closed doors
We cannot talk about closed doors without mentioning the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. He used the closed door on several occasions, including in Lifeboat in 1944, which recounts the journey of survivors in a lifeboat, with a camera on board the boat, a first at the time. He then repeated the experiment with the sublime La Corde (1950), filmed entirely in an apartment, and then with Fenêtre sur cour (1954), one of his masterpieces with James Stewart, who plays a reporter nailed in a chair because of a broken leg, spying on his neighbours.
More recently, 127 Hours of Danny Boyle (2010) captivated audiences by staging a true story, that of a mountaineer, Aron Ralston. Ralston lived through hell in the Utah Gorge, where he found his arm stuck under a rock and had to amputate himself. The result? A film with six Oscar nominations.
That same year, Rodrigo Cortes’ Buried, an anxiety-provoking film, was released. Ryan Reynolds finds himself locked in a coffin, obviously six feet underground. He has only an hour and a half of oxygen, a phone without a full charge and a lighter. We’re holding our breath just as much as he is.
Apart from the anxiety and stress, the closed door also brings other feelings, as in Andrés Baiz’s Inside (2011). Did you say cynical? And yes, it’s ironic that the fiancée who wants to trap her lover, convinced that he is cheating on her, will find herself locked up in a secret room.
We can also talk about Gravity, which takes us to another universe, another genre. The film takes place in space, and although the setting is not confined as one might expect, the viewer is kept in suspense throughout. It is indeed here the immensity that finally echoes our primary fears, emptiness, fear, death.
And the list is far from being exhaustive! There are many films shot behind closed doors, to embark us into stories that often put our nerves to the test. This is the magic of the closed door in cinema.