Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cinematic First Impressions

Good first impressions are essential to so many parts of life: getting a job, procreation, and making friends.  Movies are no different.  Some people will walk out of a film if it fails to impress within the first few minutes.  The best movies, like the best pick up lines, need to be so unique and engrossing that you will automatically fall in love.

The characters in films are equally as important when it comes to introductions.  Have you ever thought about your favorite movie characters and how you came to meet them in their stories?  The more memorable characters have done amazing things to impress you.
 First, there’s Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters.  Audiences meet Dr. Venkman as he conducts a test for psychic abilities with two students.  Venkman flirts with a lovely coed and awards her for the abilities she does not have; the other, a nebbish young man who actually shows some ability receives repeated shocks.

This scene frames up Venkman in one quick scene.  We learn that he’s both con man and Casanova.  And the scene clearly shows that the film will unapologetically deal with the paranormal.

I don’t know if it’s coincidence, but Bill Murray has played so many characters with memorable introductions.

The best introduction has to belong to Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow.  While the Pirates of the Caribbean films may not be the best cinematic outings, when they do something well, they do it brilliantly.

As moviegoers meet Sparrow, he is sailing into Port Royal on a vessel that is rapidly taking on water.  As the boat sinks, Captain Jack steps from the mast right onto the dock.  He never gets so much as a drop of water on him.  He keeps in perfect motion, never stumbling or awkwardly mounting the pier.

That scene perfectly reflects the character for the entire run of movies.  Captain Jack goes from problem to problem unscathed as he was dry when he went from the sinking boat right on to the dock.

Of course there are plenty more.  If you would like to share some of your favorite character introductions, please do so in the comment section below.  If you are a writer, think about how your characters are greeting their audiences for the first time.  Does the scene reflect the characters overall behavior/attitude?  If not, get to some rewrites.  First impressions make a bigger impact than you may have realized.

Keep rising from the graves of ignorance, my Zombies…


  1. V-July 20th couldn't come any soonerJune 16, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    The Jack Sparrow intro is incredible. Are we allowed to include Christopher Nolan? If so my favorite has to be The Dark Knight. How you meet the Joker is incredible. It's a giant bank robbery scene where all the criminals kill each other off. Right when what seems to be the leader, catches on he trys to take out the final man who ofcourse has to kill the bus driver. Only we haven't been introduced to a bus driver yet? Best intro to any movie. Ever.

    1. 7/20/12: Adult Christmas. That's the day we adults get anxious for. We'll snoop around the net for glimpses in the way kids snoop through parents' closets for peeks of unwrapped toys. An d when the lights go down and the projector starts, we adults will have exhilaration the way we felt when we were kids and we opened that present.
      And then we will have something to play with for months as we debate the brilliance of the film. Nolan is Santa. We are all receiving the best gifts ever.
      And we should not take Nolan for granted...