In continuing the series of calling out a few scenes I’ve seen in my lifetime that truly stand out, here are 3 more. These are not simply scenes I remember — they truly had a profound impact on me and on how I view the art of filmmaking.
Some great advice I've heard about filmmaking is open strong and close strong. Everything else in between can be forgiven. And to some extent, this is true. I have a lot of favorite films that I dig simply because of their amazing opening or closing sequences.
Today I'm going to talk about openings.
TOUCH OF EVIL (dir. Orson Wells) – I saw this in the only formal film class I took in college, which was actually an English elective (Film as Literature). When the professor talked about a long, tracking shot...I really didn't know what he meant until we watched this film. From that moment on, I was obsessed with them. This may not be one of my favorite films, but it definitely was the one that got my mindset into the actual craft of filmmaking.
THE PLAYER (dir. Robert Altman) – Because of the 'Film as Literature' class (mentioned above), I was now on the lookout for tracking shots. So when when I read the reviews/critical acclaim THE PLAYER received, every article also kept mentioning the amazing opening "one long take" scene. I was just salivating to see it. I heard that THE PLAYER was going to screen at my monthly college film series (yup they screened films off 35mm projectors at Kane Hall - Room 130, it was glorious) so I bought my ticket and eagerly awaited the screening.
It was my first Altman film. And since I was fascinated with movies (this was before I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker), I geeked out over all its film references that were included.
ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING (dir. Chris Columbus) – Ok, I'm sure that opening a film with someone just dancing and singing along to a music track had been done before this one, but never as endearing as Elisabeth Shue doing it. And now, this style has been copied so much it may actually dilute how truly wonderful this one is. And it is wonderful.