[[quoteright:302:[[Film/{{Underworld}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Stairwell.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:302:[[TheElevatorFromIpanema Elevators]] are for amateurs.]]

A Cinematography trope. A PursuedProtagonist is being chased up (less often, down) a stairwell. As they run up the camera "floats" upwards and we see the hero and his adversaries as they spiral upwards, or may well descend to show all the pursuers. The hero and the pursuers will look up and down at each other at least once before setting off running.

This works as a means to establish claustrophobia and vertigo, as the hero is fleeing in close quarters and essentially going in circles. This can be accomplished by having the camera on the opposite bank and move up/down, or using a harness and crane to move the camera and operator

See also CameraChase. As the hero is likely to "tree" himself at the top of the stairs, see also ClimbingClimax.



* A reversal occurs in ''Film/TheBourneIdentity'', when Bourne is on the top floor and the bad guy is running up to meet him. Bourne cuts out the chase and jumps down about fifteen stories, shooting the bad guy on the way down. It's made even more awesome by the fact that he rides another mook's body while falling and uses said body to break his fall. Of course, it does almost nothing to help him avoid injury, but it's still awesome.
* In ''Film/TheMatrix'', the dejavu sequence features this shot at least twice.
* ''Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail'' has the camera angle, but it's not a chase, and is in fact completely separate from the plot. The man walks down the stairs, so it takes him a little while.
* In the ''Film/SinCity'' segment with Marv, the police beeline up the stairs to get to Marv. He barrels past them and jumps down the stairwell.
* ''Film/ShootEmUp'' has a stairwell chase... culminating in a spiral of death as the protagonist bungees down.
* ''Film/TheInternational'' has a scene that's part stairwell chase ''[[MonumentalBattle in New York's Guggenheim Museum]].'' Though thanks to the museum's layout it's more of a staircase running gun battle.
** For non-New Yorkers wondering what's so amazing about that: The Museum's defining architectural characteristic is that all the public areas are designed ''entirely without stairs'', so the actors are racing down the spiral walkway at the heart of the Museum.
** An earlier chase through the Guggenheim was seen in ''Film/MenInBlack''.
* A version with cars driving up the multi-level parking was seen in ''Film/{{Transporter 2}}''.
* As seen in the page image, the movie ''Film/{{Underworld}}'' made good use of this trope.
* Used in the film adaptation of ''Film/TheFugitive'' with the titular character desperately running down to escape the armed US Martial.
** Used in the sequel, ''Film/USMarshals'', only this time the fugitive is running UP the stairs.
* A classic: The Belltower scene in Creator/AlfredHitchcock's "''Film/{{Vertigo}}''", pioneering the iconic [[VertigoEffect "zoom in / dolly back"]] effect to show the lead character's intense terror.
** Which was parodied in Creator/MelBrooks' "''Film/HighAnxiety''".
* A form appears in the 2007 ''Film/{{Transformers}}'' movie: Sam runs up a stairwell to the roof as Megatron smashes his way up after him.
* ''Film/{{Batman}}'' chases the Joker up a bell tower in its finale.
* A variation appears at the climax of ''Film/RaisingCain'', where the cops, a desperate mother, her boyfriend, and [[spoiler: her MPD husband's female personality]] close in on the child-stealing villain, all from different directions, via a motel's outdoor stairwells and balconies. The camera pans from the villain and mother facing off on an elevated walkway, then down a stairwell past the approaching cops, then to the ground-level boyfriend running to [[spoiler: catch the little girl when the villain drops her over the railing]].
* Bond chases the villainous Elektra up the stairs of her hideout during the climax of ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough''.
* Near the end of ''Film/ItsAMadMadMadMadWorld'', the citizens are chasing Captain Culpeper up the stairs, and this shot is used.
* In ''Film/WeekendAtBernies'', one of the couples is going up to the top of a lighthouse and this shot is used.
* A variation occurs in ''Film/AmericanPsycho'', but rather than pursuing his victim down the stairs, he simply watches from the top of the stairs and drops a chainsaw on her head from there.
* Arthur in ''Film/{{Inception}}'' runs downstairs, with a projection of Fischer's militarized subconscious right after him. Thanks to the fact that they're Penrose Stairs, which impossibly take you right back where you started on the stairs, Arthur can sweep in behind his pursuer, and then drop the man off the high ledge the landing's suddenly become. As Arthur says, "Paradox."
* Played for laughs in ''Film/{{Ghostbusters 1984}}'', where it becomes more of a Stairway Trudge. This example is also a bit of a cheat: the flights above our heroes are a matte painting.
* ''Film/{{REC}}'' is big on this. The chasing gets more intense as the Infected increase in number.
* ''Film/{{Lolita}}'' (1997). Dolores accuses Humbert of [[DeathOfTheHypotenuse murdering her mother]] and shouts at him to kill her as well. She then flees down the stairs of their apartment building with Humbert in pursuit, with the camera spinning to follow them instead of staying in place, showing how their lives are spinning out of control.
* ''Film/WelcomeToThePunch'' (2013). After seeing his ArchNemesis Jacob Sternwood fleeing a hotel room shootout, CowboyCop Max Lewinsky chases him down the fire stairs only for his knee to give out from [[KneeCapping the injury Sternwood gave him]] three years ago.
* ''MaxManus''. LaResistance carry out a raid that takes longer than expected. When the police inevitably show up, there's an OhCrap reaction followed by a shot of Max and his colleagues fleeing down a spiral staircase.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Appears in ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' episodes "Wild Rebels" and "Warrior Of The Lost World". (In the latter, there was no actual chase, and the staircase was a "square" spiral, but it was done in the same spirit)
* Used in the ''{{Series/Dollhouse}}'' episode "Spy in the House of Love", with NSA agents chasing Sierra up a staircase towards the roof.

* In ''[[Pinball/LightsCameraAction Lights... Camera... Action!]],'' a {{Pinball}} game about filming an action movie, one of the Scenes the player must finish is a foot chase up a flight of stairs.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Used as part of a level in ''VideoGame/{{Xenosaga}}: Episode II''. The player must run up a very long staircase while mechanical threats chase from below.

* Appears in the ''WesternAnimation/FilmationsGhostbusters'' episodes "Statue of Liberty" and "The Way You Are."
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheBeatles'' episode "Hold Me Tight," George and Ringo chase a man who they think is going to blow up the Statue of Liberty up the statue's stairwell.