We watched a documentary called 'Watching,' about thriller openings and how they are made effective.
In the documentary the presenter Thomas Sutcliffe said, "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." By this he meant films need to get their audiences attention immediately and suck them into the movie. For example, the movie 'Casino':
Through this the audience are forced into immediate interest/attraction.
However according to director Jean Jacques Beineix, instant arousal poses risk’s that can be harmful to the movie. The risk is that, now that you have the audience so highly engaged into the movie by starting off with something big, you have to follow this up by maintaining and holding the audiences interest for the rest of the film. He believes “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.” Beineix believes this way is effective because in this way, as Alfred Hitchcock said, the audience gain enough information to remain highly tuned in knowing that something will later happen, and therefore gain and maintain the audiences interest.
On the other hand critic Stanley Kauffmann brings forward a classic opening, believing this style to be most effective. A classic opening is for example where the film begins with a opening/establishing shot for a city/town, then a shot of a building, then a window etc, we are zooming in to the most important element e.g. the person. This works because the audience, as Stanley Kauffmann says, are through this way, told the organisation of the world.
The opening title sequence of ‘Seven’ by Kyle Cooper was very effective. The reason why it was so effective is because it was able to tune in their audience and give them a mood/emotion to follow with. This was hugely achieved through their use of non-diegetic music and the font titles, which are small and stand out against the black background. Another way this opening title sequence was effective was through the added effective of flashes of light, distortion of the images and titles, and the shaky effect with the titles. This was able to introduce the audience to the genre of the film- psychological- and introduce them to the narrative.
Orson Welles also wanted to achieve a very effective opening title sequence with ‘A Touch of Evil.’ To try and achieve this Welles wanted go straight into the film with no opening titles because he believed the opening would be more powerful if there were no titles thus giving more attention to the narrative. However Universal Studios went against this idea believing it was too risky to go against the conventions like this, and added the titles to the opening of the film. Welles and many other people were very disappointed by this and thought it ruined the initial effect of the opening.
With opening title sequences, there is a very famous trick called ‘A favourite trick of noir’ which is when the beginning of the film is also the ending of the film. An example of this trick being used is with the opening of ‘Casino.’ I trick is effective because it is able to as Thomas Sutcliffe says, give the audience instant arousal but avoid Jean Beineix risk of loosing the audiences interest, by keeping the audience inquisitive trying the puzzle the story together to figure out the reason for that ending.