Most movies… do not have the best beginnings. They’re usually slow, taking their time going through the opening credits (TELL ME WHO THE CASTING DIRECTOR IS I MUST KNOOOOW) or laying down some setting or some such.
And then there are movies that floor it the second they start, aiming to bowl over the audience. They craft opening sequences that have you instantly engaged and on board with everything to come afterward. Today, I wanted to share with you six of my favorite openings to movies:
Adventures in Babysitting
This is the opening that launched a thousand crushes on Elizabeth Shue, I’m sure. I love it because without saying a word — without even leaving her bedroom — we get to know quite a bit about this vivacious teenager as she gets ready for her date. I mean, the very first look anyone gets of Chris is her jumping into the mirror frame doing a wicked head bop to a song she’s got blasting in her room. It’s funny, it’s high-energy, and the choice of song is spot-on.
This one is a little longer, but it’s a complete movie in and of itself — and worth including by how much heavy lifting it has to do to introduce all of the villains and the Goonies. At the one-minute mark, Dave Grusin’s infectious score kicks off, and we as the audience know that it’s going to be a breathless adventure from that point forward. There’s like ten good laughs in this part alone, too.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Only using text and music, this brilliant comedy troupe had us rolling on the floor during the opening credits. What seems bombastic and serious at the start gradually dissolves into unmitigated silliness, Swedish subtitles, a letter from Richard Nixon, and, eventually, a Mexican party. It’s a work of art.
How do you deliver a history lesson and help the audience grasp Middle Eastern geopolitics? By creating an timeline-style opening with a score by Danny Elfman that’ll have you on the edge of your seat, that’s how. Forget the rest of the movie (I mean, it’s not bad) — but you’ve got to see this.
I can see how we got oversaturated with The Matrix and kind of forgot about how weird and engrossing its opening was. You don’t know what’s going on, not really, but the directors jam-packed a lot of setup and beats here that led you down a trail of mystery. And having a great action sequence never hurts at the start of your film.
While we all knew that Pixar could pull hard on those emotional strings for the climaxes of its movies, nobody — BUT NOBODY — expected to be sucker-punched by the saddest intro to their latest animated film. Playing out as a silent film, we are treated to the life and relationship of Carl and Ellie which culminates in death, a broken heart, and a broken dream. You’re sobbing, and the movie is only getting started. I’m still in awe of this.