Can someone explain to me what the deal with fire escapes is? Ok, how many of us out there have used one, or even know someone who has used one? My guess is not many of you. So why is it that half of the movie characters that we see end up using one? Look, I’m not a genius in math, but I think that the ratio of movie characters to real people using fire escapes is a bit off.
Let’s explore why this phenomenon occurs. One, movie characters have a disproportionate ratio when it comes to the number of times they have to flee an apartment or risk death versus the average person. Because of this factor, they tend to have to use the fire escape so they do not perish.
Secondly, most movie characters who end up being chased are not rich, thus meaning that they will end up living in an apartment, and running down the fire escape in a frantic manner so they can escape whatever danger is behind them.
Thirdly, and probably most importantly, it simply just looks cooler if someone is being chased down a fire escape. Sure, we could watch Joe Blow running through a field with someone chasing behind them; but where is the suspense there? We would rather watch him run down stairs, turn, then run down more stairs, while the enemy (or killer) chasing them, is doing the exact same thing.
Now keep in mind, if a good guy is chasing a bad guy down the fire escape, most of the time, they will have anticipated the escape, and have their partner waiting at the bottom. By contrast, it seems as if bad guys don’t seem to anticipate the same; if they don’t catch their prey by the bottom of the fire escape, our hero is free to run off unscathed.
So what have we learned here? That fire escapes are unnecessary? Maybe. That if you are in danger, all you have to do is stay two flights below of your pursuer, hit the ground first and you will be safe? Possibly. Or maybe, just maybe that the reason that we enjoy the movies so much is because they do not remind us of reality, because, let’s face it, we get far too much “reality” in our day to day lives.
There was a fire in NY in a clothing factory in the late 1800s. 115 women died because the elevator couldn’t make it back up to the floor they were on and the fire department’s longest ladder was still short by 35 feet. After that fire, it was mandated that any building over a certain story had to have them.
Movies use them because we hardly do. Must be easier to get film permits on areas that are hardly in use. 🙂