The mystique of underground car parks


Tom Sutcliffe had an entertaining riff in the Independent last Friday on the film trope of the underground car park, apparently as a result of watching State of Play. For those of us of a certain age and interest, the underground car park is forever associated, in movies, with All the President’s Men, as well as the dozens of gangster movies which have used it. Tom writes:

Underground car parks feature in a lot of thrillers because they are functionally helpful locations for a director. They feature a multitude of hiding places and a shortage of safe escape routes. They allow for the sudden and serendipitous arrival of third-parties but can also be plausibly deserted. And the repetitive architecture and murky shadows create a kind of concrete hall-of-mirrors which automatically increases our uncertainty and anxiety.

There’s another reason as well. They’re also ‘functionally helpful’ for the producer and production manager. It’s a luxury to have a location which can be closed off from the outside world for the duration of filming. And the fact that there are so many underground car parks which look all but identical means that the location fee should be negotiable.

And see also my later post on All The President’s Men.


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