Books and Movies Reviews

Opening Scenes in Three Films: Easy Rider, The French Lieutenant’s Woman and The Pelican Brief

The opening scene of a film establishes what sort of film is to follow and the tone that will be taken.If the opening scene does not do this, it may lose the audience before long.The audience wants to know what it is watching and decides how to watch the film based on the opening scene.If the scene is comic, the audience will expect a comedy.If the scene is serious, shifting to comedy may be confusing.The opening scenes to three films shows how the tone can be set.
Easy Rider (Hopper, 1969) would be classified as a road movie.The film became a model for a generation, suggesting the importance of personal freedom as well as opposition to conformity and to the Establishment in the late 1960s.in a way, the film suggests that the idealism of the sixties is giving way to disappointment and disenchantment, specifically to the realization that the ideal will not be met.The film covers a large portion of the American landscape, touring through deserts, cities, rural areas, mountainous regions, and different kinds of community of the time.
The tone for what follows is set in the opening scene.Interestingly, the film begins not in the United States, where the rest will be set, but in Mexico, introducing the two main characters as they complete a drug deal.The scene is set by the opening shot of the La Contenta Bar, an image of a foreign bar somewhat outside the local town, and frequented by a group of locals.The shot holds for a few seconds as the viewer is accustomed to the sight of the bar and the setting, and then two young Americans on motorcycles enter from the lower left of the frame and curve in front of the bar before stopping.The scene cuts to a closeup of one of the locals observing, then to a shot of three more locals watching the proceedings.The two new arrivals are then greeted in the next shot by men from inside the bar.The camera pans with the young men as they follow the Mexicans to the side of t…

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