Openings can also be used to set up a story’s theme. Take the film A Few Good Men, starring Tom Cruise, written by Aaron Sorkin. The opening scene is a credit sequence depicting a Marine Corps. drill team in action. Their synchronized moves not only emphasize their disciplined training, but also show them working together as a unified force. This machine of precision operates with one objective in mind: to bring honor, the film’s central theme, to the Marine Corps.
Sorkin’s new film, The Trial of the Chicago 7, is now streaming on Netflix.
Another salient example is the film Lord of War, which opens on Nicholas Cage’s character standing in a sea of spent bullet cartridges in a war-torn third-world country. Wearing a strangely out-of-place business suit, he turns to address the audience, saying: “There is one firearm for every twelve people on the planet.” We’re then launched into a first-person sequence that follows a single bullet’s journey from a Russian factory to an African war zone, and ultimately into the forehead of a child soldier. It’s a shocking commentary on the horrors of war, and sets up a strong case against guns and gun trafficking, one of the core themes of the film.