We’re safely assuming that as children, we all at some point did that thing where you read the first and last sentences, pages, or chapters of a book in an attempt to glean some sort of information about the overall story. Can the same be done with movies? In an extremely interesting video by Jacob T. Swinney, we’re given a side by side look of the first and final moments of over fifty films. Glean what you may.
It’s sometimes easy to forget the effort put forth into films and often gloss over the subtle nuances involved in what a single shot can convey. At times we may entirely love an iconic scene or game changing plot point while not always giving credit to how it’s shot. Seeing the first and last scenes puts an interesting perspective on what the filmmakers could have been going for.
For example, albeit a strange one considering the circumstances of a movie shot so beautifully as Birdman, the first shot of a fireball burning through the clouds and the last of Emma Stone grinning as she looks up toward the sky makes the entire film feel almost cyclical. Depending on how you interpreted the ending of this year’s winner for best picture, seeing the opening shot next to the last lends even more ambiguity to Stone’s bittersweet smile.
Other shots are similar such as Gone Girl, Frank, and Lord of War, they each denote a distinct change over the course of the film and revisiting them allows us to bookend the journey we’ve just watched. Rosamund Pike’s Amy Dunne resting her head on her husband’s chest seems drastically more menacing the second time around despite being almost identical.
While in Frank, we’re subtly shown character growth with a similar shots of Domhnall Gleeson’s “Jon” from behind. Stationary in the first where we’re introduced to the creatively stuck young musician and in the last we watch him willingly and confidently walk away from a performance of the band he so desperately wanted to be a part of. Lord of War ends up with similar mirrored shots of the ground littered with bullets which, when placed side by side, seem almost tidal suggesting that things will never really change that much.
In others, it’s easy to see the progression of loners finding their special someone in the world as is the case with Silver Linings Playbook or Fight Club.
Some shots even give a quick snapshot of the journey of the film like those of Shutter Island and Inception. In Shutter Island, Leo’s “Teddy” literally comes out of a fog in and the end there’s a peaceful and clear shot of a sunset that could be interpreted as him realizing his psychosis and resigning himself to his inevitable lobotomy. Not to further harp on DiCaprio movies, but Inception’s first and last of rough seas to calm home could be seen as Cobb’s mind itself. The first shot of the turbulent and tormenting seas of limbo may represent his guilt and the last shot of his home where he’s finally able to let go and walk away from his wife’s totem.
Movie over-analysis aside, this video is at its core just a whole lot of fun. The juxtaposition of each makes us re-think the entire film and in some cases have us itching for a good binge re-watch of almost all of these movies. Except for Cloud Atlas – that movie was weird. And that’s the true-true.
What are some good first and last scenes people should know about? Do you think I read a bit too far into some of these? Over analyze things with me on Twitter or Let us know in the comments!