I think that these are the ten greatest opening shots and scenes ever. Other films come close but in some way each one of these openings is special, significant, memorable, and artistically interesting. They all happen to be American films, I didn't do that intentionally but I think American Cinema tries harder to grab the audience from the first frame because we seem to be a culture of Attention deficits and if that makes our film openings better well then more power to ADD.
1. Citizen Kane (scene begins with the successive shots of Xanadu holding the window in the same location during each shot slowly closing in to Kane's bedroom, scene ends after the famous Rosebud line whereupon the snow globe is dropped and breaks upon the floor)
2. Rear Window (the scene begins with blinds opening whereupon we are visually introduced to everything we need to know about the setting and ends with the phone conversation)
3. The Graduate (the scene begins with Benjamin's face in the airplane as we here The Sounds of Silence begin to play and ends with the song ending right before the fish tank)
4. Patton (the scene begins with a giant U.S. flag and ends when Patton's speech concludes)
5. The Godfather (the scene begins with the title and classic Godfather theme and ends with the line "Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day consider this justice a gift on my daughter's wedding day.")
6. Star Wars (the scene begins with the opening crawl and ends with the storm troopers breaking through the hull and the subtle smoky transition away from the carnage)
7. Apocalypse Now (the scene begins with the jungle and the first few chords of The End by the Doors ends with The End fading out and Captian Willard begins to narrate)
8. Blade Runner (the scene begins with the firey future LA cityscape and ends when the interrogation scene begins)
9. Beauty and the Beast (the scene begins with the forest giving way to the Castle as the Narrator introduces us to the classic fairy tale and ends with the title fading into the little town)
10. Memento (the scene begins with the photograph developing backwards and ends with the first black and white scene)
Touch of Evil
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The first two Lord of the Rings films.
The Passion of the Christ
The Dark Knight
and there are many others...
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