In class we watched a documentary about film openings which talked about the points of view of some directors, journalist and title sequence makers regarding what makes a good opening.
Thomas Sutcliffe believes that there is a need to 'seduce' the audience 'into a long term commitment' which menas that a film opening worked best when it hit you in under five minutes. Like with the film 'Casino', Robert De Niro get in the car and it blows up.
However,director Jean Jacques Beineix didn't belive in 'instant arousal' and thought that if the beginning was so strong it meant that the standard had been set high and would not live up to the public's expectations.
It was said that "a good beginning must make the audience feel that it doesn't know nearly enough yet, and at the same time make sure that it doesn't know too little", which basically means that as a paying audience they have to feel that they get their moneys worth before starting the film. An example of a good opening was Kyle Cooper's title sequence for the 1995 thriller, 'Seven'. It was so successful because it tuned the viewer to the right pitch and it set the public up for the movie ahead so that they knew what kind of film it would be.
The great Orson Welles has been a source of inspiration for most if not all film directors because he would break with tradition and he tried to do that with 'Touch of Evil'. he wanted to plunge the viewer straight into a film with no credits, which was not normal for that time. However Universal Studios wouldn't have any of it. They won the battle and managed to keep the credits in the opening.
We also saw what is called 'the trick of film noir' which is when a film begins with what seems like an ending.
Another opening which we have studied many time before is 'The Shining'. It is very long and the camera is fixed on a small white car from a birds eye view which gives the feeling that the car is being watched over. The car seems to be driving in to the mountains, so basically into the middle of nowhere. All of these elements, along with the disturbing one note music creates suspense.