Have you ever watched movies and wondered why these opening movie scenes make absolutely no sense? Well, it turns out that some filmmakers like to start their movies at the end, giving audiences a glimpse of what’s to come before rewinding back to the beginning. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at 17 movies that use this technique to great effect.
Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic, Pulp Fiction, famously opens with hitmen Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega driving to their next job. However, it’s not until the very end of the movie that we see how this scene ties into the larger story. This technique not only sets the tone for the film’s non-linear storytelling but also creates a sense of anticipation for the audience.
Christopher Nolan’s Memento tells the story of a man with short-term memory loss who is trying to solve the mystery of his wife’s murder. The film’s opening scene shows the end of the story, leaving the audience in the dark about how the main character got there. By the end of the movie, Nolan masterfully fills in the gaps for a satisfying conclusion.
The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects opens with a shot of a ship on fire, followed by the discovery of a single survivor. The rest of the movie follows the survivor’s retelling of the events leading up to the ship’s destruction. The opening scene, however, sets up the film’s twist ending, leaving audiences stunned when they realize the truth behind the survivor’s story.
The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan’s final entry in his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, opens with a scene of a CIA plane being hijacked mid-air. It’s not until later in the movie that we learn the significance of this event and how it sets up the main conflict. The opening scene creates an immediate sense of danger and tension, drawing the audience in from the very beginning.
La La Land
La La Land, the award-winning musical, opens with a large dance number on a busy Los Angeles freeway. It’s not until the end of the movie that we see how this scene ties into the larger story. The opening scene sets the tone for the film, showcasing the vibrant and colorful world of Los Angeles and the characters’ dreams of making it big in Hollywood.
Arrival, a science-fiction film, begins with a montage of the main character’s daughter growing up, getting sick, and eventually dying. This scene sets up the emotional stakes for the rest of the movie, as the main character is tasked with communicating with alien life forms in order to prevent a catastrophic event. The opening scene establishes the theme of time and memory, which are central to the film’s plot.
The Social Network
The Social Network, a biographical drama about the founding of Facebook, opens with a scene of Mark Zuckerberg on a date with his girlfriend. The scene sets up Zuckerberg’s character as socially awkward and driven by his desire for success. The opening scene also establishes the film’s themes of technology, innovation, and betrayal.
Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan opens with a scene of an elderly man visiting the graves of fallen soldiers at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. The rest of the movie follows a group of soldiers as they search for Private James Ryan, who is the only surviving brother of four soldiers. The opening scene sets the tone for the film’s themes of sacrifice, loss, and the horrors of war.
The Place Beyond the Pines
The Place Beyond the Pines, a crime drama, opens with a long tracking shot of Ryan Gosling’s character, a motorcycle stuntman, as he enters a crowded fairground tent. The scene sets up the character’s reckless and dangerous behavior, which leads to a series of events that affect multiple characters over the course of the movie. The opening scene also establishes the film’s themes of fatherhood, legacy, and the consequences of our actions.
The Lion King
The Lion King, a classic Disney animated film, opens with the iconic “Circle of Life” sequence, showing animals from all over the African savanna gathering to witness the birth of Simba, the future king. The scene sets up the film’s themes of leadership, responsibility, and the cyclical nature of life. The opening scene also showcases the film’s stunning visuals and memorable music.
Christopher Nolan’s Inception opens with a scene of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Cobb, washing up on a beach. The scene sets up the dreamlike nature of the film’s plot, as Cobb is revealed to be in a dream state. The opening scene also establishes the film’s themes of reality, memory, and the power of the mind.
Gravity, a sci-fi thriller, opens with a stunning 13-minute long take shot of a space shuttle mission gone awry. The scene immediately immerses the audience in the intense, chaotic and dangerous world of space, setting up the film’s themes of survival, isolation, and the fragility of human life.
David Fincher’s cult classic, Fight Club, opens with an image of the film’s protagonist, played by Edward Norton, pointing a gun into his own mouth. The scene sets up the dark and subversive tone of the film, which explores themes such as masculinity, consumerism, and mental illness, among others.
The Godfather, one of the most iconic films of all time, opens with a scene of a man petitioning Don Corleone, the head of a powerful crime family, for help in seeking revenge. The scene sets up the film’s themes of power, loyalty, and family, and establishes the character of Don Corleone as a complex and morally ambiguous figure.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind opens with its protagonist, played by Jim Carrey, erasing all memories of his relationship with his former girlfriend, played by Kate Winslet. The scene sets up the film’s themes of love, memory, and loss, and establishes the unique and surreal tone of the movie.
Up, a beloved Pixar animated film, opens with a touching montage of the life story of its protagonist, Carl Fredricksen, and his wife Ellie. The scene sets up the emotional journey of the film, as Carl embarks on a grand adventure to fulfill his and his wife’s lifelong dream. The opening scene establishes the film’s themes of love, loss, and the power of human connection.
Blade Runner, a dystopian sci-fi film, opens with a shot of a futuristic cityscape, accompanied by a haunting and atmospheric score. The scene sets up the film’s themes of identity, humanity, and morality, as we follow the story of a detective who is tasked with hunting down rogue androids. The opening scene also showcases the film’s stunning visuals and world-building.