TIFF Cinematheque presents a Summer in France: ‘Elevator to the Gallows’ a complex, labyrinth noir
Elevator to the Gallows
Directed by Louis Malle
Written by Louis Malle and Roger Nimier
As English poet John Lyly once wrote, “The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war”. When it comes to the most primal of human instincts, love and survival, people tend to take an ‘any means possible’ approach to their wish fulfillment, even to a nefarious extent.
Rather than condemning this approach, we tend to embrace it, as an exception to a rule that we would otherwise accept in any other circumstance. We rationalize our moral indiscretions as simply a means to an end – an end that seduces our innermost desires for love and survival.
This expression has become a mainstay in human culture for time immemorial, but leave it to the French to disagree with an Englishman.
The legendary Jean Renoir once masterfully portrayed our habitual hypocrisy in regards to love in The Rules of the Game as well as examining the futility of military action in The Grand Illusion.
He was one of the first to put humanity over the human and society over social convention, another being fellow French filmmaker, Louis Malle.
In his 1958 crime thriller, Elevator to the Gallows, Malle critiques the idea that love conquers all and of war being humankind’s most noble pursuits. But more than that, he tells this in a complex, labyrinth noir.