The 10 Most Iconic Opening Scenes in Cinema History

Movies  |  Lists
Our favorite opening scenes come in many forms. Some plunge readers into an action scene. Others crackle with dialogue. And one is driven by a thrilling cascade of, um, scrolling text. For one reason or another, these scenes have become iconic entities unto themselves, even apart from the movies they introduce.

10. Alfonso Cuarón, Children of Men (2006)

In the space of about three minutes, Cuarón establishes a fully-realized world where humanity is infertile, and an Orwellian U.K. is the last surviving government. Then a bomb rockets shrapnel out of a coffee shop, and a woman stumbles through the smoke, clutching her severed arm. Your world is now upside-down.

9. Robert Altman, The Player (1992)

Note the nod to Touch of Evil.

8. Todd Solondz, Happiness (1998) 

“Iconic” is probably a stretch for this opening scene. But it has stayed with us for years as an indelible cinematic breakup, a film within a film, a nervy high-wire act of dialogue and tone. 

7. David Lynch, Blue Velvet (1986)

Oh, you know, it’s just your average sunshiney day here in the suburbs. Except for that guy dropping dead, and the horrible ominous clattering insects underground. And whoops! Look what I just found in a field.  

6. Ridley Scott, Blade Runner (1982)

A sweeping shot of the Los Angeles cityscape at nighttime, as ominous towers shoot fire into the sky. A flying car comes into view, and coasts toward a massive pyramidal building as Vangelis' synth howl makes this already epic sci-fi tableau even more sprawling. 4 replicants out of 4.

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