"Films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment. While there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible"
Regarding film openings, Thomas Sutcliffe presents his idea that films must obviously grab the audiences interest into a long term span of attention paying and or desire to continue to watch and discover the conclusion and ending of the film.
He then continues to say that it is always tempting and seemingly unavoidable to create this interest and attention immediately referring to using a effective opening to achieve this goal.
Personally I completely agree with Thomas, if I am not within the first say five miniutes of a film inclined and motivated to watch the rest as well as feeling entertained, I wont watch the film, meaning that taking me as a audience the opening to a film is of paramount importance.
Another interesting point is made by Director Jean Jacques Beineix - he contradicts mine and Thomas Sutcliffes opinion detailed above by saying that if this 'instant arousal' is present in a film then after the opening portion of the film the level of interest of the audience will be at full peak meaning the rest of the film will be less satisfactory and wont be able to compete with the opening.
He says that instead, a film should be gradual and keep the audience willing to watch without any extremely dramatic scenes or key moments and gradually draw the audience until later in the film - presumably the end - finally bring in the key scenes and important parts of the film leaving the audience completely satisfied and fulfilled.
I partially agree with Jean Jacques, depending on the severity and degree of this method / technique it can either be highly successful or bring the film to a boring and un-desirable watch. if the level of interest is maintained to a relative and decent level or the end 'discovery' or revelation is worth watching then waiting throughout the whole film will keep the audience glued to the screen and dying to reach the conclusion. if the level of interest is not maintained, audiences will be dis-engaged and not interested in the on screen action.
Something else to consider about films and their openings is the idea that a good beginning / opening of a film must have a balance between giving away information but withholding enough information to use to give the rest of the film purpose, a good way to put it or to reach the perfect level would be giving away information in a way that is revealing to satisfy the viewer but leaving them with desire to know and see more.
Stanley Kauffmann describes the stereotype / classic opening: we see a overview of a city so we can identify where we are and the scene is set, such as a establishment shot or a helicopter birds eye view shot, we then see a shot of a building, followed by the window of that building, we will then enter the building and meet the main character of the film. This sort of opening is very effective because firstly it explains and introduces a lot of elements to the viewer and secondly because it establishes normality in contrast to what might be later in the film.
One very effective opening mentioned in the Documentry as mentioned earlier in this blog is Se7en bye Kyle Cooper. aside from very well crafted camera shots, excellent titles and clever editing the opening introduces the main character as very physchotic and through what i just mentioned this is shown in a highley effective way, it also foreshadows the rest of the film and entices the audience with desire to watch the film.
A interesting trick mentioned in 'Watching' is 'Film Noir' which is the idea of putting the last scene or the ending of a film at the very beginning - then using the rest of the film to build up to and explain this moment. in my opinion it is only effective when the ending still has some elements of mystery about it and there is desire for revelation.
Finally the documentary mentions 'The Shining' a classic thriller. The opening creates suspense perfectly through use of the birds eye view shot that constantly follows the car from a big distance, there is continuously building suspenseful music, as the scene progresses it becomes darker and darker and the car starts driving into a very isolated area - all of these elements give the simple idea - this car is travelling in the wrong direction.