Best. Opening. Sequence. Ever.

This week at Southern Vision, all the posts I’ve written have been to do with movie titles. That trend was completely coincidental, but it looks set to continue with this brief post I’m just writing on the spot as I don’t have much time today.

Today I’d like to highlight what I believe to be the best opening to a movie ever. And luckily for the mainstream movie-lovers reading, it is not from an indie or foreign film. Last night I had a chance to rewatch the opening of one of my all-time favourite films, this time on Blu Ray on my friend Stephen’s beautiful 60″ screen (rendering me all kinds of jealous). The film was Apocalypse Now.

I’d seen it many, many times before, but never like this. He’d set the place up so it looked and felt a lot like a real theatre, and then, to prove how amazingly he’d set the place up, he popped in a Blu Ray of Apocalypse Now: Redux and we watched the first few minutes with the volume kicked up to full and the screen just engulfing us.

I sat looking at the screen, dumbfounded like a young child, as a scene I’d always loved was brought to life so incredibly viscerally by his cutting edge sound system. He’d been working on it all for years, and to have it finally done was a huge accomplishment for him, so I congratulate him.

Anyway, that scene blew my mind in a way it never had before, and it has prompted me to write this, as well as ask you a special question. Before I ask the question, I’ve supplied a YouTube clip of the opening below. It’s nowhere near as amazing to watch as it was on the big screen, but it should give you a tiny feel of how amazing it must be to see it in the cinema.

Amazing, isn’t it? The music, combined with the explosions… so surreal, and beautiful. The best opening sequence I’ve ever seen and a great way to close out a winning streak of 70s masterpieces for Francis Ford Coppola.

Enough of that… now I bring the question to you:

What is your favourite opening sequence of a movie?

Think about it for a while; don’t rush and type your answer. I don’t want several answers from one person, I’d like you all to provide just one concrete answer each, with no honourable mentions, or second or third places for other scenes. Just one sequence. Your favourite sequence. Now think!

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Posted on October 5, 2011, in Movies, Random Question and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.

  1. Ok, I’ll cheat by providing my least favorite opening sequences. Basically any of the James Bond movies that had Roger Moore. I’m not certain if it’s because I really did not like him in that role or if Broccoli lost his producer’s touch. Anyway, they were / are just too ridiculous…

  2. A Clockwork Orange. The incredible synth anthem. The disorienting alternating solid colors. The intense stare down. Then the creepy monologue delivered as the camera slowly tracks back to reveal the surreal scene. Cinematic perfection.

  3. I do love this one, it is probably a film that will always be in my top 3 EVER!! So good choice Mr T

  4. Touch of Evil. I expect not to be the last person to post this answer.

    As a side note I also just recently rewatched Apocalypse Now (not Redux) on blu-ray. It was amazing! A day later I was also able to cross off Hearts of Darkness off my watchlist.

  5. I have yet to see the Redux version. Been meaning to, but just haven’t had the chance. I saw this in the theater with my dad when it was released. Such an excellent film! If you get the chance, track down Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. It is a brilliant documentary about the making of this film. I believe it was directed by Coppola’s wife.

    Cheers!
    G-LO

    • I have seen the documentary by Coppola’s wife and loved it.

      I would have killed to see this in a theatre back in ’79.

      • I was 12 at the time, so it was VERY intense. I’ll NEVER forget the tiger scene. I may have literally jumped out of my seat.

        • So many of those scenes must’ve been enthralling in the cinema. That tiger scene made me jump and I was watching it on a stupid 40″ TV the first time, so what it’s like in the theatre must be a thousand times better!

      • Well… I’m still talking about it 32 years after the fact. What does that say about the effect it had on me?

        All I can say is, “Never get out of the boat!”. 🙂

  6. Another vote for Touch of Evil here.
    I also nominate Silent Light, which is a pretty blah film but the opening sequence is something incredible.

  7. Hi, Tyler and company:

    I’m with micca and James R. ‘Touch Of Evil’ rules. Though Honorable Mention should be considered for the elongated opening credits of ‘One Upon A Time In The West’ and ‘Lord Of War’.

  8. So many good choices here. The one that jumps in my head is Heat’s opening heist. It perfectly introduces us to all the main characters and doesn’t waste any time doing it.

  9. I don’t know if it’s the best ever, but the opening scene in Inglourious Basterds is quite memorable. It’s definitely edge-of-your-seat stuff.

  10. Vote for Godfather 1. It’s very subtle, but totally memorable. I enjoyed the Apocalypse Now one too. Funny that both films are from Coppola.

  11. My favorite film opening is Goodfellas. Makes it clear from the beginning that this flick ain’t fuckin’ around.

  12. Christian Hallbeck

    This first scene from Roy Anderssons “Songs from the Second Floor” is about a troubled managing director (standing), who on the orders from the chairman (in the solarium) has fired 700 employees from a company, and expresses his uneasiness with the task; but where the chairman tells him that he must continue the firing untill he has reached 1000 people. “We live in a new time!”, he explains. “One must understand that!” And he continues: “Everything has it’s own time. /…/ The Steam Locomotives had it’s own time!” The managing director says that it will be a disaster for many people. Whereupon the chairman answers that they should not blame themselves for this:

    – In that case we should not be here!
    – What do you mean?
    – Why should one be in a place where there’s only misery!?
    – No, that’s not good.
    – On that day I shall be far away from here! And you shall too!
    – Hm…

    When viewing this scene I still freeze to my bones when the music begins (after “On that day I shall be far away from here!”). The film has a very beautiful score all the way through!

  13. Pretty much any Tarantino film has an amazing opening (I love the way he uses typography in his credits). Recently though, the best opening I’ve seen was for Gaspar Noe’s ENTER THE VOID (view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL0lNGXoP8E) Shame the rest of the movie was so awful!

  14. Ah yes so I see. I also agree that the closing credits to Dogville are great (although von Trier really is a twisted fellow). Speaking of, ANTICHRIST has a terrific opening.

    I haven’t seen I STAND ALONE unfortunately, but I did…enjoy is probably the wrong word…I did think IRREVERSIBLE was very strong.

    • I love Von Trier. He’s one of my favourite filmmakers. I also love the ANTICHRIST opening, which has been mentioned here a few times as well.

      • Von Trier is hugely hit and miss for me. Loved Dogville, hated Melancholia. Loved Antichrist the first time I saw it, and found it a total bore the second time. Need to catch up with his earlier stuff

        • I definitely recommend some of his other films. Try BREAKING THE WAVES or the documentary THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS, or maybe his Dogme experiment THE IDIOTS. Would be interested to know what you think of some of them.

  15. Gonna be Captain Obvious here and say ‘Pulp Fiction’; that is just one opening sequence I can watch over and over and over again.

    Also, though it’s a documentary rather than a movie, ‘Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures’.

    • I’ve seen both those and I do like both openings but I don’t love either. I mean PULP FICTION is a fantastic film and I like the opening, but nowhere near as much as I like others.

  16. This would be up there for me too. Love AN and The Doors!

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