The Sound of Music (1965)
Things are usually iconic for a reason, and in the case of The Sound of Music it is because it is simply a sublime film. I don’t think I have ever met a human being who has never seen this film, and it is almost impossible not to sing along with Maria after she has stopped twirling.
My thing with this opening is that it is just so beautifully shot that I refuse to believe it was done on location – it is just perfect. I am certain that this film was ahead of its time and what we are seeing at the beginning is an early form of computer generated special effects … right?
Anyway, this intro sets the tone for the rest of the film. I think the song is beautifully sang and, compared to the rest of the soundtrack, it’s very subtle.
In the interest of transparency, I have to admit that I feel in love with Julie Andrews many moons ago thanks to this scene, so I could be biased.
The Dark Knight (2008)
I remember the first time I watched The Dark Knight – I knew that what I was about to watch would be something very special based off its first scene alone. It was jaw droppingly brilliant and it blows away the idea that Nolan can’t direct action sequences.
I feel the comparisons to Michael Mann’s Heat are lazy – yes it is a bank robbing scene where the perpetrators double cross each other – but this scene is a lot simpler and purer than anything in Mann’s classic. It is very easy to follow, the jokes are simple without being clichéd but if I could point to one thing it would be the thread of devilish evilness that runs through this scene.
I think it all comes down to my love of villains and bad guys in general; I love this scene because I believe Heath Ledger’s Joker could have devised such a plot. I love this scene because it made me believe that such a nasty and chaotic character could exist in the world that I inhabit. I love this scene because it made the world of Batman real to me, more than any comic I have ever read, any cartoon I have ever watched and more than any film that proceeded it. And isn’t making you believe the absurd the whole point of cinema anyway?
And the first words uttered by The Joker are just the icing on the cake for me: “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stranger.” It is just delicious.
(To be continued…)