Saturday, 29 January 2011


During the lesson we watched a documentary about the importance, types and guidelines to a good film opening.

"...films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment. While there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible." - Thomas Sutcliffe

 The author, Thomas Sutcliffe compared movies to relationship and movie openings to types of seduction. He states that the opening sequences have to be exciting and seductive enough for the audience to be drawn in and continue the relationship but at the same time not show off too much so that there are things left in the actual movie to attract our attention. "...instant arousal..." as Mr. Sutcliffe said, can cause the rest of the movie look boring and unattractive. This completely defeats the purpose of an opening sequence. It should make the audience watch and wonder what will happen next and not wait for the end.

However there are exceptions to that for example showing a flash forward (something that happened later in the movie) as an opening. It can be packed with action but it has to be clear that it is the future so that we won't leave the audience confused and asking all the wrong questions. A if done successfully it will make the audience curious and leave them wondering what happened to lead to this and why. An example of a successful movie opening:

Explosions are often used in opening sequences because they instantly add more action to the movie, however they have to be used wisely. A director of "Touch of Evil" wanted to create a magnificent opening sequence which shows a typical day in persons life but with an explosion at the end. The opening was created in a single shot which makes it even more impressive. What made it so suspenseful is the fact that the audience knew from the beginning that something is going to happen but the characters didn't. This is exactly the definition of the word suspense which Alfred Hitchcock explained few posts back. Whats interesting is that this movie was made before the legendary movie "Psycho" by Mr Hitchcock. There was only one thing with that opening sequence, surprisingly it were the titles. They distracted the audience from the movie making it less effective. The director sued Universal Studios and wanted the titles removed but he lost.

"Touch of Evil" poster

Here is the opening sequence of "Touch of Evil" without the titles:

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