10 Worst Opening Scenes In Otherwise Perfect Movies

Never judge a film by its first moments.

The Hateful Eight
Miramax Pictures

It's been said that most people make up their minds about a film within the first 10 minutes of sitting down to it; that everything you need to know in order to decipher whether you'll enjoy a motion picture is right there in its opening scene.

When we think of great movies, we often think of how they begin - what events spur the stories into motion, or how we're introduced to the characters for the first time. Many of the best and most iconic films of all-time are renowned for their brilliant opening scenes, after all; think of the "Rosebud" scene in Citizen Kane, or the temple escape that kicks off Raiders of the Lost Ark.  

But a great film isn't always defined by its opening scene. There are lots of fantastic movies out there which begin with problematic or ill-judged openings, only to move past their difficult introductions, spread their wings and ultimately flap their way to glory. Films such as...

10. The Dust Bowl - Interstellar

The Hateful Eight
Warner Bros.

Despite the mixed reviews that met its initial release, I absolutely love Interstellar and think it's one of the most underrated movies of the past decade. I'll defend this movie - loudly, if needs be - despite not even being a huge Christopher Nolan fan.

That established, it must be said that there's one part of this otherwise brilliant film that really bugs me: the opening scene, where a bunch of old folks - including actress Ellen Burstyn, playing an older version of Jessica Chastain's character Murphy - can be seen talking to the camera and recounting their experiences in the wake of the film's then-unnamed natural disaster ("My dad was a farmer back then, like everybody else. Of course, he didn’t start out that way...").

But opting for this "documentary" approach jars quite awkwardly with the established style of the rest of the movie - especially since the talking heads are taken from Ken Burns' 2012 documentary The Dust Bowl (a film which, being a huge Ken Burns fan, I'd seen previously and was confused to find used her in such a capacity).

Interstellar isn't a documentary, after all; the use of talking heads in such a cinematic film feels like both a strange stylistic and narrative choice. It doesn't go on for too long, of course, but it's an odd way to start to an otherwise great film (despite Nolan's noble intentions).


Sam Hill is an ardent cinephile and has been writing about film professionally since 2008. He harbours a particular fondness for western and sci-fi movies.