In class we watched a documentary about opening title sequences called 'Watching', and it is about how significant opening titles are to the rest of the movie. Is it crucial to have an amazing opening to draw the reader in early on? Or is it better to have a fairly bland opening, so that the movie seems lifted and more interesting to watch? We will find out...
In the documentary, Thomas Sutcliff, the voiceover and presenter of the show, said this interesting statement, '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 '. I think by this statement he meant that the audience need to be dragged in from the moments the credits start rolling, in order to capture their interest so that it will be continual throughout the film. However, Jean Jacques Beineix, a Director, says that there is a high risk for 'instant arousal'. This could possibly be due to his feeling that films should 'nurture the desire' and make you 'wait for the excitment'. I do agree with his point that you shouldnt give too much away to avoid the audiences disappointment towards the film, if it doesn't live up to the opening that is. On the other hand, if the opening is bland, then the audience is most likely to switch off before even getting a chance to be engaged. So in theory you can't really win. In my opinion though, I do prefer instant arousal, as personally I like to be dragged in from the start, sometimes a little too much suspense is daunting.
'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.' This quote, said by the presenter of the film, means that knowledge actually keeps the audiences interest. If the audience knows barely anything by the first 2 mins of the opening, they are likely to switch off. Why do you think in the famous play, Romeo and Juliet, we were told the whole plot before the play? This is because the audiences curiousity makes them want to find out how and why it happened.
Some filmmakers and critics believe that openings should follow a certain structure to draw their audience in. Critic, Stanley Kauffman, describes the classic opening as one that should start with a good establishing shot, for example an overview of NYC, then a a zoom in of a particular building, probably an apartment, then a high angle shot tilt of the building, followed by a zoom in of the window, then the bedroom, and then the scene. He described it as 'everythings in place'. This could be considered the classic opening because it sets the scene and prepares the audience for the film. Personally, I do like this opening as it does set the scene, but then again a little variety would be appreciated. A director who likes to break the rules and change peoples perceptions of the perfect opening would be liked.