August 11, 2015

'Art of the Opening Shot' Gives Us a Few of the Most Iconic First Scenes in Movie History

The first frames of a movie can stay with us a lifetime.

While not every film starts off with something immediately memorable, some of the greatest films of all time have opening shots that are seared into our memory, and no matter where we are and when, if we see these shots, we're going to know exactly where they come from. If you don't believe me, check out this cut of opening shots from Danish film site Filmnørdens Hjørne, which consists of intros from some of the most iconic movies of all time:

Here is the list of films, in order:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979), Zoetrope Studios
  • The Untouchables (1987), Paramount Pictures
  • TRON: Legacy (2010), Walt Disney Pictures
  • Léon: The Professional (1994), Gaumont
  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Horizon Pictures
  • Touch of Evil (1958), Universal International Pictures
  • Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Lucasfilm
  • Rain Man (1988), United Artists
  • Taxi Driver (1976), Columbia Pictures Corporation
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009), Warner Bros.
  • Rear Window (1954), Paramount Pictures
  • Seven Samurai (1954), Toho Company
  • Heat (1995), Warner Bros.
  • Lost in Translation (2003), Focus Features
  • Casino Royale (2006), Columbia Pictures
  • Black Rain (1989), Paramount Pictures
  • Patriot Games (1992), Mace Neufeld Productions
  • The Dark Knight (2008), Warner Bros.
  • Deliverance (1972), Warner Bros.
  • The Hunt for Red October (1990), Paramount Pictures
  • There Will Be Blood (2007), Paramount Vantage
  • The Birth of a Nation (1915), David W. Griffith Corp.
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998), DreamWorks SKG
  • Blade Runner (1982), The Ladd Company
  • The Matrix (1999), Warner Bros.
  • Superman (1978), Dovemead Films
  • Stoker (2013), Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • No Country for Old Men (2007), Paramount Vantage
  • Thelma & Louise (1991), Pathé Entertainment
  • The Shining (1980), Warner Bros.
  • Take Shelter (2011), Hydraulx
  • The Searchers (1956), Warner Bros.
  • Gladiator (2000), DreamWorks SKG
  • Road to Perdition (2002), DreamWorks SKG

The music is a bit dramatic, of course, but what I really wish we had with these clips was the sound that goes along with these shots. I would argue that not only is it the visuals that grab you, but that opening piece of music or sound design from these films can tug at you in an even stronger way than the visuals. At some point you've experienced a time when you know a movie so well you can hear it in another room and know exactly what it is, and that's a testament to the filmmakers and their abilities. 

That's not their only video though, they also put together a cut of some of the best car chases in cinema history, not to be confused with a different video on the subject we posted recently:

Your Comment


Dont down play the always reliable Gregorian choral music. Powerful stuff. Actually what was the name of the song played in that first video?

August 11, 2015 at 12:29PM


August 11, 2015 at 1:13PM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

Since when is a car chase not exciting enough? Why add music?

August 11, 2015 at 8:37PM

Charlie K

Jeff Nichols is too astounding for words.

August 11, 2015 at 9:00PM, Edited August 11, 9:00PM

Henry Barnill
Director of Photography

The openingshot of 'Lost in translation' is pure John Kacere worship.
(Great shot, btw)

The opening of Leon is interesting if you consider his relationship with his plant. Never thought about it like that.

August 12, 2015 at 7:55AM, Edited August 12, 7:55AM

Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer

very nice site. well on the point. keep it up

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December 25, 2018 at 4:50AM


Why the dissolves?!?!

January 4, 2019 at 12:21PM

Nick Davis