The Key to Filmmaking

Beyond symbolization, doors are literally the gateway to discovering emotions, contradictions, expression and also to hide them all! As much as an open door highlights new opportunities at the wake, a shut door can dig deep into the darker corners of the genres! All a window can do is to provide a taste of how the world on the other side looks like. The way to that world is a door.

Let’s open the door and get exploring!

Enchantment is the first pit-stop for this feature! Featured in the spotlight immediately is the Chronicles of Narnia-The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe! 4 siblings while playing hide & seek, discover a secret Wardrobe door in the spare room upstairs, which leads them to the Fantasy Realm of Narnia! Here, the door in question displays an arena of what gets featured in the dreams of little children. That excitement upon seeing magical creatures, whilst we still believed them to be true, is all a child ever wants! To their dismay, however, they discover that the door is open only to specific people at specific times, and the rest of the time, is just a closet. This concept fascinates me in the very aspect that the door is considered to be the object that is so invaluable, and yet is disregarded the most. The book manages to entrance the readers, while the movie adaptation delivers that to the ones that do not like books!

Moving on to the second element, Hope! This can be illustrated with two scenarios, Number one- The scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone, where Harry and hid friends for the first time enter into the Great Hall of Hogwarts! Professor Mc Gonagall opens the door to the hall and behind her follow the students, meek and awed with some of their jaws hitting the floors. For Harry, waiting in this school are dreams and hope of escape from his horrid relatives, and more importantly, that spark in his eye to find purpose in his life. The opening of this hall’s door is a representation of Harry being let into his future by a guide through a door that was blocking his way!

Another take on Hope can be described with this scene from The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring. When the fellowship finds it impossible to pass the misty mountains, they rely upon the hope of a shortcut to get through-The Mines of Moria. That hope is clearly visible in Frodo’s eyes when he suggests this route. However dangerous it was, it held an enticing reward-Hope forward! Entering into that door cost them a lot, and the mines too were a decision that cost them dearly-as argued by Gandalf earlier in the movie. But the door acted as the element which heightened hope and hid the doom of the unknown!

That acts as a perfect Segway into the next element, Mystery! What lies behind that door is the million dollar question that entices even a normal sane human being! For this, let’s come to one of the biggest horror films of Tamil Nadu! No, scratch that! One of the biggest horror films of India! It is obviously Chandramukhi, or Manichitrathazhu  or Bhool Bhulaiya, whichever version you prefer. Being a crazy Chandramukhi addict, I am going to quote how Ganga became my perfect muse for this part. Listening to stories and characterization was her inherent practice. After listening to the story of the palace and of the “Forbidden floor and door”, she became more intrigued as to what was behind it!

Said door might’ve had nothing but only dust, pests and insects. Or it might’ve held inside it what was claimed to be a spirit hostage for thousands of years. That element of mystery of not knowing what is inside is actually what led Ganga into the door. Her path was not very easy and she could’ve given up trying to open the huge ass locks on those doors. But there was something that grabbed fascination behind that door, how could she not open it?

The final element that needs some pondering- Communication! A lot can be said through a door in a single shot. Do you have two people locking the door and conversing on the other side while no one has any clue about it, and all one gets to look at is that door - a great shot to bring the audience to the edge of their seats. Many movies have incorporated this technique, such as Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now. This happened by accident when the cinematographer kept rolling, but it built the tension of the audience and kept them anticipating and bracing themselves for any probable jump-scares! 

Or, when two people speak at the entrance of a house, how the character holds the door while speaking to the other person can convey a million unspoken emotions- fear, anxiety, shyness or even hesitation. This can be understood from a scene from Disney’s Frozen. Elsa completely shuts the door and isolates herself from Anna, in order to not accidentally hurt her with her new found powers. Her room door represents the barrier between the two sisters who want to be with each other, but cannot due to responsibilities and circumstances. Anna desperately seeks out for Elsa by calling her every single day, yet bound by her control issue, she cannot go out and build a snowman! Instead, all she conveys is she does not want to build a snowman.

Doors of dreams, opportunities, destiny and success; doom, death, sorrow and lament, are all the same. They’re just doors at the end of the day. Aren’t they? Or are they?

Written by

-Amritha Varshini

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