With our attention spans decreasing every day and the option of watching movies from the comfort of our homes without having to spend anything, it is highly important that we are drawn into a film in its first few minutes itself.
But believe it or not, long before we got here, filmmakers have been gift wrapping these scenes for us. So, we decided to make a list of all those films whose opening scenes were so good that we never even thought of changing the channel!
1. Inglorious Basterds
Whoever said no good story ever started with a glass of milk needs to watch this Tarantino classic for which Christoph Waltz bagged an Oscar. In this particular scene, Waltz’s Nazi officer Hans ‘The Jew Hunter’ Landa interrogates a dairy farmer in the French countryside.
As he downs the farmer’s delicious milk, Landa calmly lures the farmer, and even us into a false sense of security to find the unaccounted Jewish family. There is an unerring sense of calmness to the scene, much like the tales of the entire jungle getting too quiet as a predator circles its prey.
2. The Dark Knight
It’s a bright sunny day in Gotham. Just think about that sentence for a while. Something just seems odd about it, doesn’t it? The very next thing you see is clown-masked cronies use a zip line to break into a bank. As they talk amongst each other about the mysterious man who planned the robbery, each one of them takes off their mask and shoots another member of the team.
3. Apocalypse Now
4. American Sniper
One might and should criticise the politics of the film but that takes nothing away from this scene. Bradley Cooper’s Chris Kyle, a SEAL sniper sits on top of a building having a pregnant woman and a child in the crosshairs of his gun as he struggles to decide if the object they are holding is an explosive device.
This scene disturbingly sets the rest of the movie for you as we get to witness the dilemma of which lives are worth saving and more importantly, which are not.
5. Special 26
Now this will definitely not be on the level as some of the other films on this list. But the fact of the matter is that as a Bollywood movie, its first scene set the bar for opening scenes. It starts off like an Income Tax raid of the lore, people in a sarkari office attire rush into a politician’s house and tear its walls down literally to find black money.
They seal it all up and get the cops in charge of the situation. Then it takes a couple of very quiet and nervous minutes to realise that this was a just a gang of people pretending to be I-T officers conducting a raid. This was the real money heist!
The scene cuts to Renton again, who is now lying flat on his back after a quick fix of heroin. He then justifies his decisions by insisting everyone who has ever been against drugs simply hasn’t used them!
7. Avengers: Infinity War
For 10 years, we had been teased about this movie and the villain that came with it. And while rumours of his savage nature had been going around, we had never seen him go past a post-credit scene.
This is the first time we see Thanos in the flesh as he destroys the Asgardian ship, has Thor beaten up and on to snap Hulk in half after a little fistfight. Before he leaves the carnage, he also chokes Loki to death. And all of this was just in the first 5 minutes of the film.
8. Django Unchained
Tarantino’s films are known for their opening scenes. This one starts off like any other film about slavery. But just as you’re about to get the feeling of redundancy, one of the slavers gets shot to death and the other gets hounded to death by his own slaves.
Then the mysterious white guy who set them free and the titular character of Django escape on a mission of bounty hunting and killing other slavers! That itself makes you want to sit back and watch as righteous violence erupts periodically on the screen for the next 2 hours!
Imagine spending the first 10 minutes of the film thinking this is some kind of Ocean’s Eleven movie, only to realise that none of it was real and all of it was in your head, or somebody else’s. You don’t know. You are confused but Christopher Nolan’s immersive storytelling makes you want to know more.
After watching Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt trying to pull this off in a dream, you do spend a second thinking ‘wow, they are geniuses’ only to realise a moment later that someone else was playing them!
10. A Clockwork Orange
Even before he speaks a word in the film, the scene already establishes that there are evil notions making a home in his head and he’s preparing for a hunt. Moving away from the room, we hear Alex narrating that they are being served drugged milk to sharpen their minds for criminal activities.
As Alex ponders what to do next, we know whatever the plans happen to be, they will not bode well for whoever is on the receiving end.
11. The Godfather
Now you come and say “Don Corleone, give me justice.” But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even think to call me “Godfather.” You come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder – for money.
This is how we are introduced to one of the greatest characters ever played in cinematic history. This is also the first scene of The Godfather.
Brando’s calm and composed monotonous voice is as scary as madmen shouting at the top of their lungs. He’s a wealthy man but he only asks for loyalty – something that makes the audience respect him despite his status as a criminal. It’s the subtlety of this scene that makes it so great and sets up not only the movie but the rest of the series.
12. Jurassic Park
In 2020, it’s probably not a big deal but if you are honestly telling me that the dinosaur dragging the worker into the cage and devouring him in front of everyone didn’t scare you the first time you watched this film, you would be lying.
Mind you, this film is 26 years old. Back then, this was the pinnacle of technology. It was not only scary but also fascinating to see a creature like that on screen.
13. Saving Private Ryan
There are no words we can use to describe the carnage on Omaha beach on D-Day that hasn’t already been said yet. Many veterans have agreed that it was the most realistic depiction of World War II they had seen on screen.
It starts with the surprising quietness of men who knew they were going to walk into certain death but nothing prepares you for when the shelling begins and bodies are splattered across the beach as American soldiers try to get out of water.
14. X-Men: First Class
We had seen this scene before in the year 2000 when X-Men released. But since most of us were kids back then, we had no idea about the Nazis and the separation of Jewish families and their extermination, even though the movies had always drawn a parallel between anti-semitism and mankind’s hatred of mutants.
But by the time First Class released, most of us knew about it, some of us understood it but we all knew we wanted to see what fuelled the deep hate Erik Lensherr had for Homo Sapiens. We see that here and what follows even makes us take his side during the course of the film.
15. Luck By Chance
If you are a keen lover of Hindi cinema, you will love this scene just because it shows the massive after-effect Bollywood has had over our everyday lives!
16. Monty Python & The Holy Grail
Few movies are as absurd as the Monthy Python series. And it all gets set up in the very first scene you see. This big-budget sketch or this low-budget movie, whatever you choose to call it, starts with King Arthur on an imaginary horse.
That is correct. Neither King Arthur nor his squire have horses. The noise of the horses’ hooves is made personally by the squire Patsy. The sound of the gallop is actually created by Patsy banging coconuts. Which is weird in itself.
What’s weirder is that they meet a guard who asks them why they were banging coconuts and where did they find a tropical fruit like that in England. In case, you are wondering, they broke the fourth wall way before Deadpool!
17. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi epic begins with the most asked question of the time- ‘How did we come to be?’ In his version of events, it did not just come by evolution or by unexplained intervention. We witness a monolith, a representation of one person’s belief of how our minds developed, as a random gift to the apes with the ability to learn.
With this gift, however, the first thing the apes do is create their first tool, a weapon to murder from the bones of a decaying animal carcass. One of the apes keeps smashing the ground with the tool before fighting and killing one of his brothers. And thus began the evolution of man.
18. The Matrix
A police squad kicks a door down at an abandoned hotel where Trinity is staying. She’s still, staring at her computer after mentioning ‘The One’ to Morpheus. She raises her hands in surrender, her familiarity with the situation tells you she’s already been here before. The cops are not worried about her, but a man dressed in a corporate suit seems to know better.
As they proceed to take her into custody, what follows is a beatdown of the cops. The Wachowskis gave us action sequences like the freezing of time and dodging bullets at super speed, scenes we had ever seen before. She leaps from the roof of one building to another as the most intense chase anyone had to see till 1999 ensues. Until she reaches a phone, picks it up and disappears. Welcome to The Matrix!
So, this is our list. Anything else that you might want us to add, let us know!