Neuman’s Movie Monday-Best Opening Scene
This week we look at what movies start out the very best.
10. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The opening to Holy Grail kicks off the comedy with the perfect call-back set up. When King Arthur is in a heated debate about European swallows, coconuts, air speed velocity, weight ratios, tusks, and African swallows, you know the witty English banter is going to be off the charts in this movie. There are at least 3 call-backs that I can think of off the top of my head that relates to the swallows.
9. A Clockwork Orange
We start with that close up of Alex and then as we track out, we see this odd modern bar that Alex and his friends are sitting at with weird manikins as the tables. The 4 men are bored and drinking something that gets them ready for "the ole... ultra-violence." We know Kubrick's taking us on a ride after this opening scene.
8. Apocalypse Now
I remember how wide my eyes were when I saw the opening to this flick. We just see the jungle with a couple of army helicopters go by. You can hear the opening to "The End" by The Doors behind the choppers. As soon as the lyrics kick in, "This is the end.." the jungle just gets engulfed in flames. Then you hear one helicopter and it's the ceiling fan. Martin Sheen goes on a drunken violent tirade being sick of war. The whole destruction was real as Sheen was dealing with his alcoholism. It's amazing.
The movie starts in a car with Ray Liotta driving, Robert De Niro asleep next to him and Joe Pesci in the back seat as we start to hear a bump. They think they hit something or have a flat so they pull over to see what's the matter. It's because the man in the trunk is still alive. After they take care of that problem, we get the zoom in and the line, "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster." So good. It's brutal and wraps you in for the rest of the film.
6. The Lion King
As the sun stars to rise and that first note of "The Circle of Life" hits, it's all ready goose bump and chills time. It's visually stunning and done so well. From the birds flying over the river, to the moment Rafiki lifts Simba in the air, this is one of the best openings of all time. The animals all acknowledge who the king of the jungle is and bow as the circle of life starts over again. From the old school animation, this is the top notch.
Speaking of Pixar, "Up" makes this list, not because of it's animation, for it's writing. The opening scene in "Up" is both loving and gut-wrenching. It is a whole story within the movie. There are only a few times that we love a character immediately (like John Coffey from "The Green Mile") and this is one of them. From the girl who makes the boy cross his heart, to getting married, prepping the baby room, losing the baby, growing older, and finally as we see Carl sitting in the empty church holding a balloon, if you didn't tear up, you are not human. I couldn't believe this was an opening to a kids movie. It's beautifully sad.
4. The Dark Knight
One of the best bank robberies happens in "The Dark Knight". One of the reasons we like The Joker so much is because of his ruthlessness. He sets up a whole team into breaking in to the bank vault and has them pick each other off until he's left with all the cash. The kicker? It's the mob's money. Then he uses their own money to black-male them into getting what he wants. The Joker doesn't care about anyone. He doesn't even care about himself. He just wants to prove that anarchy will always be human's most humanistic quality.
3. The Godfather
This is a great opening scene because this is where the Godfather just gets asked by a guy to commit a murder. The Godfather then reminds the man that he has never even tried to be his friend. Like why should I do this for you, when you don't even care about me? THEN, he says all right... I'll do this for you... but you owe me. One day I'm going to knock on your door, and you better answer. That feeling of having to owe and that debt is going to be paid at any time and at any place, is terrifying.
2. Inglorious Basterds
Col. Hans Landa is one of my favorite villains of all time. The main reason is because he's so nice. He shows up on a farm with his fellow Nazi soldiers and enters a house to question the homeowner of local French Jews who are in hiding. The homeowner offers him a drink and due to the fact that they are on a dairy farm, Landa prefers milk instead. He complements on the good job they are doing, politely asks if they can switch from French to English, they talk over smoking their respective pipes (Landa clearly alpha-males the homeowner by the size and extravagance of his pipe) and the whole time the home owner knows he's in deep trouble. He's great as he does his best to protect his family as well as the family in hiding. We find out that the missing Jewish family is currently under the floor boards and Landa knows it. After their execution, one girl is running away and Landa lets her go knowing that her surviving will be much more painful to her than if she had died. Again, Landa is one of the best villains and the opening scene is one of my favorite of all time.
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
From all the booby traps to the back-stabbing assistant, the opening to Raiders is the best. He sees all the possible traps, then guesses the weight of the medallion wrong. The poisonous darts go flying, his assistant leaves him to jump the gap (we see very clearly what happens to him) it's the first time Indy reaches back for his hat, the huge boulder rolls at him, it's just so good. After all the work he puts in, he makes it outside and is looking at our villain, Indy's competition, right in the face with a bunch of arrows and blow guns pointed right at him. The Nazi archaeologist keeps the idol to take credit for finding it and Indy has to escape. As Jack's plane flies away over the Indiana Jones theme song, it's the perfect opening. Indiana Jones is taking on the whole Third Reich and becomes one of the greatest heroes of all time.