Film critic Jim Emerson is collecting great  AUG 28 2006

Film critic Jim Emerson is collecting great opening shots from movies, including Star Wars, Primer, and Annie Hall. Do you have any favorites that Emerson hasn't covered yet?

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There are 25 reader comments

sleepingKelly53 28 2006 6:53PM

The opening shot of the graduate is one of my favorites!

Hosenpants56 28 2006 6:56PM

West Side Story - beautiful opening shots / titles - all Google Map / Powers of Ten'ed out. A pan across NYC, looking down, getting closer and closer to the neighborhood where the drama takes place. It has been a while, but I wanna say there is some bold color tinting as well.

Mark04 28 2006 7:04PM

I was always impressed by the opening of Lost In Translation for more than one reason. It was beautiful.

Ryan07 28 2006 7:07PM

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, when Joel wakes up and kicks his extra blankets off. One of the best opening shots that I have seen is Memento, where the Poloroid is shaken backward and the bullet flies back into the gun.

Chris39 28 2006 7:39PM

The opening sequence of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, where those bounty hunters ride into a little town trying to capture Tuco.

Chris50 28 2006 8:50PM

Jean-Pierre Melville's "L'Armée des ombres," with the stunning shot of German troops marching down the Champs-Élysées.

Ernst Lubitsch's "Trouble in Paradise" comes to mind as well.

Reuben20 28 2006 9:20PM

I am surprised that there isn't a distinction between opening sequences and title credits. Often a separate company will put together the opening credit sequence under the direction of a number of different people. Of the sequences in the source website, 'Fight Club' seems to be the most blaring example of the difference.

That being said, one that I always think of is the opening ballet sequence from 'White Nights.' It could be argued that this falls under the credit sequence rather than opening scenes.

Nick14 28 200610:14PM

My personal favorite opening sequence: Back to the Future.

Joe28 28 200610:28PM

Woody Allen's Manhattan.

Kelly28 28 200611:28PM

Joe Versus the Volcano

Adam30 29 200612:30AM

I really liked the title screen for Me You and Everyone We Know

fangs38 29 2006 2:38AM

The opening tracking shot from Touch of Evil. Suprised it's not there already!

Reuben59 29 2006 2:59AM

Once Upon A Time in the West, without a doubt.

Lester46 29 2006 3:46AM

My favorite opening scene is the one from Happiness.

"You think I don't appreciate art? You think I don't understand fashion? You think I'm not hip? You think I'm pathetic? A nerd? A lard-ass fat-so? You think I'm shit? Well, you're wrong, 'cause i'm champagne, and you're shit. And 'til the day you die, you, not me, will always be shit. "

mathew13 29 200610:13AM

i can second joe versus the volcano.

i also enjoyed the opening shots of 'the swimming pool' - those few seconds spoke volumns about the main character.

mathew13 29 200610:13AM

oh! man. forgot my absolute favorite: magnolia

Matt43 29 200610:43AM

I'm biased because this also happens to be my favorite film (and I'm a neeeeerd), but I think the opening sequence in Contact is stunning. Zooming out from the Earth to the edge of the known universe, and then out from the iris of that little is wonderful.

mattbucher38 29 200611:38AM

The long, three-minute tracking shot that opens "Boogie Nights."
Also, "Touch of Evil."

emily18 29 2006 1:18PM

Dang, mattbucher beat me to 'Boogie Nights' -- establishes so much about the characters in one long, snaking take (wink wink).

I'll throw in a classic with "The Sound of Music" -- silent helicopter over the alpine hills, then swelling violins, zooming in on Julie Andrews who begins to sing sweetly...perfect! Robert Wise really knew what he was doing; he directed "West Side Story" also.

Hasan27 29 2006 1:27PM

Blade Runner, Touch of Evil, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!

Hasan50 29 2006 1:50PM

Woops, didn't see that mattbucher had already mentioned Touch of Evil, so I'll withdraw that one end enter Taxi Driver instead.

ja52 29 2006 1:52PM

Lord of War, which follows the lifetime of a bullet - from manufacturing to shipping to loading to killing.

james severin24 29 2006 2:24PM

Great find, Jason. I'm surprised -- shocked, really -- that no one has mentioned the opening of Robert Altman's The Player. Indeed, it's so breathtakingly virtuoustic as to be almost too much; but it's not.

Scott14 29 2006 6:14PM

The underseen masterpiece Once Upon a Time In America, if only for the courage to have your four-hour movie begin with a phone ringing like 40 times.

Eric55 29 2006 9:55PM

Ja scores a good one with Lord of War. My personal favorite is Favreau's MADE, which opens with Favs boxing Vince Vaughn. It's immediately tense and funny -- which is disorienting. The combination repeatedly remerges. And the scene tells a lot about the two characters.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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