Film Fridays - Great Opening Scenes (Cont'd)

So, three more movies with great opening scenes!  I won't introduce the piece with a huge wall of text - if you want that, just go read the original post.  I am going to cut down on the photos, though - I think I went a bit overboard last time.  You wanna see pictures, click on the friggin' youtube links.

4.  Super Troopers (2001), directed by Jay Chandrasekhar

What?  You've never seen super troopers?  Are you friggin' serious?  You don't know the glory that is the opening scene of this movie? 

Well, too bad I can't give you a link, because youtube doesn't seem to have it.  Stupid privacy laws!  All it offers are crappy montage links.  I guess that means you have to rent this movie and watch it.  Probably about ten times, because it is one of the funniest movies of the decade.  It really is pure genius.  And when the Shlesbian gently told me that I was an idiot for forgetting to include this movie on my list of great openers, I slapped myself on the forehead loudly.  And dramatically.

I left a mark, even.

Why is it a great intro?  Because it perfectly introduces the main characters of the film by focusing on characters that we will not see again (for the most part).  It introduces the humour of the film, with a completely self-contained vignette that instantly draws the viewer in.  And, really, it's just bizarrely funny, without being so over-the-top or obvious.  It has drug humour, without being "OMG, that guy just took a lot of drugs, lol!" or anything stupid like that.

We have a few stoner kids on the road, and a cop car starts chasing them.  They freak out, and get the kid in the back to eat all of their weed so the cops won't get it.  Then, the kid eats all the mushrooms.  He is saying weird stuff ("the schnozberries taste like schnozberries" - said after licking the window of their car).  The cops shout "pull over", and the car pulls over.  The cops shout "Pull over" again, and the terrified driver, nearly crying, shouts back "I can't pull over any more!  I've pulled over as far as I can!"

The cop saunters over to the window, while the nervous kids try to play it cool.  "Do you know how fast you were going?"

"Um, sixty five?"

"Sixty three."

And it carries on from there.  I can't really do the scene justice, but suffice it to say that it really strikes a chord for most people.  Even my dad, the most unfunny navy person in the world, had to admit that this scene was kind of funny. 

5.  Pulp Fiction (1994), directed by Quentin Tarantino

Pulp Fiction's opener is great because not only is it the scene to start the movie, but it is also the final scene of the movie (if you didn't know this, well then, too bad - you've had fifteen friggin' years to watch this movie, so suck it).  It is also in the same tone as the rest of the movie - beautifully-written dialogue, well-acted, and with drawn-out, insightful scenes with a healthy dose of humour.

My favourite parts of the opening scene, by the way, happen to be the part where the (british) bank robber complains about there being too many "fucking foreigners" in the U.S.A., and of course the last lines of the scene ("...I'm going to execute every motherfucking last one of you!") before the quick transition into Dick Dale and his Del-Tones' version of "Miserlou". 

Much like the rest of the movie, this scene doesn't take its time.  It just lets the characters talk, and much is revealed as the scene progresses.  The humour isn't thrown in your face, being presented in a very subtle manner.  The characters have a sense of gray to them - the robbers do not come across as necessarily bad people, but there is definitely a sense of craziness and a mean streak to them.  And, the whole thing is filmed in a very simple manner - a few stationary cameras, without much done in the way of lighting - that really helps capture the scene. 

But, as with every Tarantino scene ever filmed, it is all about the dialogue.  Seriously, about the only CSI episode I like is the one that Tarantino directed. 

6.  Gladiator (2000), directed by Ridley Scott

Yeah, I'm a Ridley Scott fanboy.  I'm aware of this, and I've found myself fighting back the urge to just start listing his movies here.  I mean, Alien has a great opener.  So does Black Hawk Down.  And, yeah, I'm partial to the opening sequence of Bladerunner, but that's probably to be expected, right? 

But the opening scene for Gladiator has to be mentioned as Ridley's best.  The movie opens with a shot of Russell Crowe's hand, moving through a field of grain.  And this shot is repeated throughout the movie, a repeated metaphor for death - which the audience will quickly learn, as about ten seconds into the movie we are treated to Crowe's general Maximus ordering Roman troops in an attack against Germanic hordes, in a blasted and burned forest.

Note how the movie doesn't just drop you into the fight.  Instead, it builds the scene up - we know a fight's coming, and we can see the hesitation in the men's eyes.  We see a dead roman scout sent back to the army on a white horse (Ridley loves that white horse - see Legend or Bladerunner).  We get to hear Hans Zimmer's excellent scoring, a wonderful arrangement called "the Battle" that, for some reason, still gets played at hockey games.  A song that slowly builds, and builds, and builds...

...and then all hell breaks loose.  We get explosions  that aren't just stupid action movie explosions.  We get sword fights.  We get crazed germanic barbarians.  And roman prowesse.  And, and, and...

So, I saw this movie in the theatre with my dad.  And about halfway through this scene, we just looked at each other and grinned.

I don't think that grin came off my face until the movie had been over for a few hours.  Just pure brilliance. 

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