So in keeping with my annual tradition of providing a treat on the blog's birthday (here are my first and second birthday treats), this time it'll be: My 10 Favorite Movie Openings. These films may not necessarily be masterpieces, and some of them may actually be pitiful movies, but all 10 were openings that blew me away, making me ask: "What the hell is this? Where did this come from?", and created a rare crave to watch the rest of the film, in search for another high.
Here's the list, in chronological order, with a youtube clip showing why they're so incredible. Feel free to post comments and your own favorite movie openings. The curious common point amongst almost all of mine, is their great soundtrack. At the core, it's really the music that makes them so good:
1. Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1969)
Ten minutes, almost entirely without dialogue. The soundtrack is the ticking of a telegraph, the buzz of a fly, the squeal of a locomotive entering the station, where three mercenaries await the arrival of an old foe. And when the characters do speak, in a background of Ennio Moriccone's captivating music, the result is just hypnotic:
- "You bring a horse for me?"
- "Hehe. Looks like ... looks like we're shy of one horse."
- "You brought two too many."
2. The Cassandra Crossing (George P. Cosmatos, 1976)
The movie itself may not be much, but that's one hell of an opening. And for the pre-Spielberg 70s, watching three German terrorists enter the WHO headquarters in Geneva, only to be a infected by deadly bacteria, must have been quite charming for its own time. Again, the soundtrack prevails, this time by Jerry Goldsmith:
3. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
The genius that started it all. The moment that defined my love for movies. An Imperial Star Destroyer, invading my life as strong as it enters the story, descending from the heavens above:
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
O, John Williams. How do you make grabbing the golden idol out of that cave in Peru still "sound" so good after all these years?
Nope, couldn't find the clip on youtube.
5. Cliffhanger (Renny Harlin, 1993)
Look at the girl's eyes, going down. Harlin may not be much of a director, but he sure knows how to make action scenes.
6. Se7en (David Fincher, 1995)
It's actually the opening credits sequence here that's different from any other. The filth that exudes from these two minutes is so disturbing, it sets the mood for the entire film so perfectly, you feel like washing your hands when it's done. On this one, the credit goes to the cinematographer, Dariush Khonji.
7. Scream (Wes Craven, 1996)
I don't care how the rest of the movie went, and I don't care how idiotic the sequels were and are to this day. That opening (with its popping popcorn on the stove) was explosive. Wes Craven knows his craft.
- "You never told me your name."
- "Why do you want to know?"
- "Because I want to know who I'm looking at."
8. The Matrix (Andy and Lana Wachowski, 1999)
Everything green. Everything in pixels. Characters connecting to virtual worlds through phone lines, as the internet age was born. The camera circling 360 degrees around Carrie Ann Moss, as she jumped up in the air. With that opening, something strange had been introduced into cinema. Someone once said this was the sci-fi revolution The Phantom Menace of the same year was supposed to be.
9. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, 2010)
A captain dies, another one takes his places, an entire ship is evacuated and blown apart, and in the meantime, Captain Kirk is born - all in a matter of minutes. It's hard to beat that. Watch this again, and see how brilliant Abrams' mind works.
10. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)
The dream collapses, and suddenly a whole new world of artistic concepts pour in - because it takes a whole two and half hours (and maybe repeat viewings) to explain what those first five minutes meant. And there is a chance that Hans Zimmer is the new John Williams.