10 Movie Openings You're Not Supposed To Understand

You shouldn't feel stupid for failing to grasp these WTF opening scenes.

Amy Adams Nocturnal Animals
Focus Features

A movie's opening scene is generally charged with establishing the mood, setting, and principal players, but not all movies are quite so concerned with spoon-feeding the audience all the crucial information from the outset.

Some filmmakers have opted to get a little more daring and basically attempt to confuse the audience from their movie's opening minutes.

By bamboozling viewers with mysterious imagery and context-free dialogue, these films managed to be both deeply confusing and transfixing all at once.

In the age of streaming where people can nope out of your movie in a single click and move onto something else within seconds, willfully befuddling potential audience members seems especially bold, if not outright revolutionary.

But from decades-old classics to more recent releases, these films all had faith that audiences would stick with what was being offered, which for better or worse offered up no immediate explanation.

No matter how these movies as a whole turned out, they had the bravery - or some might say, the stupidity - to dial up the head-scratching WTF factor from minute one, and in some cases they never let up...

10. Tenet

Amy Adams Nocturnal Animals
Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan's most recent film Tenet is ambitious, visually stunning, well acted, and far more confusing than you'd expect even one of Nolan's heady sci-fi action flicks to be.

The reason for this? Nolan's "impressionistic" sound design employed throughout, whereby dialogue - often even important, expository verbiage - is regularly drowned out by environmental sound effects, as left many viewers frustrated upon release.

Nolan's obfuscatory approach is made evident from an otherwise thrilling opening sequence in which The Protagonist (John David Washington) takes part in an extraction operation at the Kyiv Opera House.

We're thrown headlong into the action, for one, but even when the Protagonist and other characters do speak, the sound mixing gives such little priority to the dialogue that it's regularly difficult to hear what's being said.

It certainly doesn't help that the Protagonist is wearing a speech-muffling gas mask for the most of the scene, such that many audience members failed to hear the Protagonist tells his mark a crucial bit of contextual information: "You've been made. This siege is a blind for them to vanish you."

As a result, many were left exhilarated yet somewhat frustrated by Nolan's insistent desire to preface experiential sound over sound that actually keeps the audience abreast of what's going on.

And so, as much as Nolan bangs the drum for the sanctity of the theatrical experience, some felt they had an easier time following the whole movie when watching with subtitles at home.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.