Homework #2: Opening Scenes-The Matrix, an example of Bordwell and Thompson’s ‘hard’ opening?

Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) in opening scene of The Wachowski Brothers, The Matrix (1999)
Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) in opening scene of The Wachowski Brothers, The Matrix (1999)

Bordwell and Thompson begin chapter 2 in Film Art with a discussion of the importance of opening scenes in movies by contrasting the differences between two Steven Spielberg movies, Jurassic Park (1993) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Bordwell and Thompson describe the start of Jurassic Park as a “hard” opening filled with action that helps build suspense toward an encounter with a T-rex. The beginning of The Matrix is similar to the what Bordwell and Thompson describe as a ‘hard’ opening. According to movie legend the opening sequence of The Matrix was filmed first and cost $10M. Studio executives were so impressed with the opening that they funded the entire project, which in the end cost over $60M.

Share with the class a favorite opening scene by including a link in your post (video.google.com and youtube are good sources for video clips) and discuss why you find the opening so compelling. If you can’t find a clip and want to discuss a film anyway, include a link or an image to the movie.

To complete this homework assignment, note whether you Post or Comment. For Homework #2, Diamonds and Spades will submit a Post and Clubs and Hearts will Comment (choose any of your classmates’ posts to comment on).

To students submitting a Post, please check off the category Student Post and please tag your posts (i.e., add the name of the movie as your tag)! In order to post, you have to be a member of the class, simply click “Join” on the Class Profile to become a member. If you’re unsure how to submit a post, follow the instructions under Blogging Guidelines and/or contact me!

To students submitting a Comment, choose any of your classmates’ posts to comment on. Watch the clip in their post and tell the class what you think are its strengths/weaknesses.

Homework #2 is DUE BEFORE CLASS September 17th.
Diamonds and Spades Post, Clubs and Hearts Comment, note your blog group! Email me if you forget.

5 thoughts on “Homework #2: Opening Scenes-The Matrix, an example of Bordwell and Thompson’s ‘hard’ opening?”

  1. Hi guys. I wanted to share one of my favorite movies and to what I think has a genius intro for it’s time and reference to the whole movie. A Clockwork Orange directed by Stanley Kubrick ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI-mDTdeKR8 ). To start off quick Stanley can be seen as a weird or mysterious director but many of his movies have hidden messages or references to the world in general. In this movie the main character (Alex) as you can see in the intro with an eyelash under his right eye is an example of violence or as critiques may call him a “social problem”. In the movie he can be seen as a whole society with problems waiting to be fixed. As he says in the opening; “This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence” as we later begin to see what his life is all about. Although I would love to spoil it for everyone and say what this movie is all about I will only say that this movie has a little bit of the nature of violence, mystery, sadness, aggressive and intense plots all around.
    I think this movie has one of the best openings due to the fact that is about a futuristic country solving problems through medicine. As the movie starts the camera gets a close-up to the main character staring right at the audience and talking directly to them, slowly we begin to see his surroundings and who he calls his “droogs” sort of his disciples. As we know later Alex is a social problem and so we begin to foreshadow his psychotherapy, identifying his moods, actions and surroundings. To top it off I think this movie intro makes the movie effective in engaging the audience to understand the problems we face in the real world but we can’t simply find the methods to fix them.

    1. Hello everyone,
      I love the intro. It draws you in wanting to see what next. The four gentlemen had all different face expression on there faces. Evil, bordem, suspicious and clever.It was a very strong intro. They were in a milk bar with different surroundings. Mostly everyone wore white or was painted in white! The backround music sound like they was getting ready to fight. I thought someone was going to jump out and start fighting! So i had to look for more clips of the movie. The movie clips are great. That will be my next movie to look at this weekend!

    2. Osvaldo,
      Firstly, I’d like to say that A Clockwork Orange is one of my favorite movies of all time. Last Halloween, I dressed up as a droog (although irrelevant, I had to mention it). “Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary” is the music chosen for the opening scene. It’s difficult to describe the eerie feeling this music created without watching it for yourself. I especially loved that Alex, the main character stares directly into the camera while the other members of his “gang” are lost in thought. The look on his face is mischievous, evil and slightly confusing. The movie incorporated a lot of violence, sex and gang activity. However, the message, right from the beginning was much more than that. The furniture that the droogs are resting their feet on are naked women with crazy hair colors in awkward positions. “There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.” This is the opening line, as told my Alex. The director created the feeling of discomfort we as viewers experience within the first 2 minutes of the movie through the costumes, music and scenery. The end of the movie, in my opinion, is even more twisted and captivating than the opening scene. I highly recommend this classic movie to anyone who has not seen it.

    3. Osvaldo,
      The intro to A Clockwork Orange was very interesting. You can tell just by examining the intro, this is a very unique film. A film like this isn’t really much of a film I would normally look to watch, but it did catch my curiosity. It had a bit of a weird feel, but was very drawing. Not in a way that was flattering and appealing, but in a way of needing to watch more to understand and depict what was going on.

  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3avtJj942I

    An opening scene I pick was from the movie “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox”. The movie is based on one of my favorite super heroes, Flash. The opening scene shows so much about the flash life in a small amount of time. I watched the movie multiple times. Part of the opening scene is shown in multiple works of media of a tv show “The Flash” and the comic books.
    The movie opens with someone running. That person was Barry. The first couple minutes is really interesting. It shows the mother and Barry being very close and Barry loving his mom so much. She talks to him, and it seems like she giving him life lesson. In the scene it show that Barry is running home to celebrate his mom birthday, when he gets home he see his mom murder. A reason why I love the movie and the opening scene so much is because it has feel good moments in the beginning with love shown. But that changes in a bit where you see someone dead. A kid’s life changes in a flash. He has someone that loves him and then that person isn’t there anymore. Barry Allen is the Flash. Even when he is an adult he still comes see his mom’s grave. This opening scene shows much, Barry is the flash because of his mom. He a hero and uses the words his mom told him when he was a kid to be a hero. He is a good hero because of her.
    The movie is really good if you like super hero movies and the flash.
    Also in the opening scene it show the justice league calling with is awesome. Also the opening scene is good due to it foreshadowing the rest of the movie.

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