The Door in the Wall (1956)
Article 5526 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Glenn H. Alvey Jr.
Featuring Stephen Murray, Ian Hunter, Leonard Sachs
What it is: Fantasy short
A successful politician finds himself on the verge of a great advancement in his career, but is ambivalent of taking the new position because he finds himself haunted by the memory of a magical garden behind a green door he visited when he was a child… and which has appeared at various turning points in his life.
Since this short begins by trumpeting it’s central gimmick (a process it calls “Dynamic Frame”), let’s discuss that first. Basically, the framing of the picture is fluid rather than static; it changes throughout the movie to suit the visual of the moment. I’ve seen this sort of thing before used in transitional effects; for example, think of the credit sequences of the James Bond movies that show us the view of the action through the barrel of a gun. I’m not sure whether it’s merely a gimmick or not; I found it rather distracting during the first quarter of the short, but much of that has to do with the fact that the story hasn’t really started moving yet. Once the childhood flashback sequence starts, though, it didn’t seem as bad, because we’re really concentrating on the story and the effect seems less intrusive. I suspect the process could really be put to interesting artistic use, but would have to be used carefully and thoughtfully.
The short itself is based on an H.G. Wells story, and it’s one I can’t recall having read, which is a good thing in that I didn’t know what was going to happen, so I was caught up in the mystery surrounding the garden. The story is a bit like a cross between THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE and BRAZIL, though it’s certainly not as flashy as the latter movie. It could be seen as an allegory for the loss of innocence, which seems to me to be supported by the fact that the main character is a politician, though it doesn’t deal directly with anything resembling corruption. I also liked the twist ending, and found the whole thing quite haunting. All in all, I really liked this one.