From romantic encounters to action packed stand-offs, elevators have set the scene for some of the most iconic movie moments. Whether it is providing nail biting tension in a confined space, a cute chance encounter or a shock filled plot twist, it could be argued that these films just wouldn’t be the same without the humble elevator.
Read on to test yourself on your movie trivia as we unload our favourites. Warning: spoilers ahead.
1. The Shining (1980)
The stuff of pure nightmares comes to life with the iconic bloody elevator scene from The Shining. Who could forget the wave of blood pouring out of the elevators and rushing towards Wendy (Shelley Duvall)? A truly iconic movie moment, this elevator scene has been replicated countless times in movies and TV shows like Ready Player One (2018) and The Simpsons 2006 ‘Treehouse of Horror’ episode in homage to the classic film. Director: Stanley Kubrick
2. The Ugly Truth (2009)
In quintessential rom-com fashion, the elevator scene in The Ugly Truth is where the two main characters Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl) and Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler) realise that they have romantic feelings for one another. The elevator doors closing attempts to cut the moment short however Mike pushes them back open, extending the moment. Here the elevator in this scene serves as a plot device to bring the two characters together, while the intensity of their feelings is shown by the significance of the closing doors being pushed open.
Director: Robert Luketic
3. Star Wars
The sci-fi franchise is no stranger to elevator scenes with a plethora to choose from throughout the saga. In Star Wars Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith, Anakin and Obi-Wan run into conflict when locked in an elevator with a small droid army, however, the droids are no match for the Jedi Master and Padawan who swiftly take them out in an almost comical scene.
Director: Revenge of the Sith: George Lucas | The Last Jedi: Rian Johnson
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a tense elevator scene in The Last Jedi. Rey and Kylo-Ren are on their way to meet the film’s main threat, Snoke. With Rey currently captured and handcuffed, the two discuss their visions of the future, both trying to persuade the other to turn sides. The scene ends with some big truths revealed as the doors open to reveal Snoke awaiting their arrival. In this scene the elevator provides a momentary respite from the action allowing the two characters to further their connection.
Director: Rian Johnson
4. The Godfather (1982)
In Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, an elevator plays an important setting in the film’s baptism murder sequence. It is the setting where Victor Stracci (Don Costello) is shot dead by his bodyguard, Peter Clemenza (Richard Castellano). Stracci exits the elevator to be greeted by Clemenza and… well, you know the rest. Here the elevator is used as a tool to transport Stracci from a safe environment into a lethal one with the opening of the elevator doors.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
5. Lost in Translation (2003)
Taking a leaf out of her father’s book, Sofia Coppola uses an elevator shot to highlight a major theme in her critically acclaimed 2003 drama-romance, Lost in Translation. The scene is one in which Bob Harris (Bill Murray) rides an elevator in Japan with a handful of businessmen. The shot encompasses the film’s themes of loneliness and isolation, showing Bob feeling out of place both emotionally and physically and his isolation amongst strangers in a foreign country.
Director: Sofia Coppola
6. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
The elevator scene in (500) Days of Summer is the ultimate meet-cute moment. The film’s two leads Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschenel), silently ride an elevator together when Summer remarks that she loves The Smiths song playing from Tom’s headphones. This is the two characters first meeting and it is from this moment that Tom decides Summer must be the girl of his dreams. Here the elevator setting is what forces the two characters together and sets up Tom’s main motive for the film.
Director: Marc Webb
You don’t need an action packed war zone or fantastical otherworld to create a blockbuster moment, these six scenes show how a setting as simple as your everyday lift can be used to create nail-biting tension, shocking plot twists or a romantic meet-cute.
Other honourable mentions that didn’t quite make our list include Drive (2011), The Departed (2006), Speed (1994), The Apartment (1960) and Inception (2010).
So have you seen these movie elevator scenes? Write to us on our socials to let us know your favourite.