Opening Scene Analysis (2022)

Explosive Beginnings:
The Hurt Locker Opening Scene Analysis
By Caroline Phillips

The Hurt Locker(Kathryn Bigelow, 2008) is an award-winning film that captured the attention of many filmmakers and audiences. It’s a film about an Army bomb squad in Iraq during the war that must find and disarm bombs in order to protect people. It’s a dangerous job that the main character Sgt. William James takes on.The Hurt Lockerfocuses on their struggles and victories in Iraq and portrays the life of the Army pretty well. The film not only tells a good story, but also uses many techniques of film to make a wonderful and brilliant movie. The very first sequence in the film portrays these elements of film technique and adds to the meaning of the film as a whole.

Opening Scene:

The Hurt Locker
has a very untraditional beginning; there are no credits and begins in medias res. It jumps right into the characters in action. The story is told in linear form with some flashbacks. Sgt. Sanborn, Sgt. Eldridge, and Sgt. Thompson are attempting to disassemble a bomb. St. Thompson is wearing the protective bomb suit and advancing toward the bomb, while Sgt. Sanborn and Eldridge are staying back and keeping a look out. The sequenced I analyzed begins when Eldridge sees suspicious action coming from a butcher shop nearby. Eldridge franticly yells and tries to get an aim on the butcher man, while Sanborn is yelling and protecting the rest of the area and Thompson is running, unaware of what’s going on. The scene ends with the butcher man dialing the cell phone to set off the bomb, which kills Thompson.

As a set-up for the rest of the film, this sequence plays an important role in constructing meaning of the film as a whole. There are many techniques that apply to the deeper meaning of the film. First of all, this film follows a narrative form. As a part of the narrative, this sequence foreshadows the type of jobs that Will has to do when he replaces Thompson. The explosion’s impact represents the reality of the job that they have to do. This sequence serves as an obstacle that Will must overcome later on in the film; he needs to make sure that nothing like this happens again. Also, underlying this sequence is the fact that it was one of the first deaths that Eldridge really experienced and he took it hard. It really narrows down to about how these bombs are deathly and no one is safe. It takes real skill and patience, which we see Will practice later.

Opening Scene Analysis (2)

(Video) How to Open a Movie: City of God (Opening Scene Analysis)

The sound in this sequence plays a role in representing the intensity of the situation. The non-diegetic sound in the sequence is the music. The music is instrumental, with an emphasis on long, low, eerie sounds to intensify the situation. It also guides our attention toward Eldridge, Thompson, and Sanborn and the actions that they are performing and foreshadows events that are about to happen. Diegetic sounds in the sequence were the dialogue and the sounds of the environment. There was a lot of dialogue in this sequence between Eldridge and Sanborn, but it soon turned into yelling, which was repeated several times. Eldridge and Sanborn’s desperate demands to each other and the butcher man emphasized the chaos. The sounds were overlapping in this sequence to emphasize the commotion and confusion. They need to be quick on their feet, while many things are happening around them. The sound blends well with the action. There are also diegetic sounds of rocks and the explosion. We can hear Thompson’s heavy breathing during the shots of him running. As a result, we hear his breathing and assume he is struggling and desperately trying to get away. These are very natural sound effects in order to capture the real life of war.

This sequence, and the rest of the film, is shot like a documentary. The camera is acting like it’s reporting a story on the characters rather than filming a scene. To portray the documentary-like movements, the camera moves up and down and is jerky at moments. There is also fast film stock to show grainy picture. For example, when Eldridge is looking through his gun, the picture is grainy to reflect the feeling like the audience is in Eldridge’s position. The speed of motion of the sequence is normal, but there are many moments of slow motion. There are moments of fast-paced shots to lead up to explosions and as the bomb explodes, the speed slows down. The technique of slow motion in this sequence emphasizes the extreme impact of the explosion on Thompson. We see many angles and shots of Thompson falling down from the impact of the bomb in slow motion to capture the force of the explosion and Thompson’s fate. Also, this quick scene of the bomb exploding is spread out in order to see how different things are impacted and to emphasize the size of the bomb. For example, during the slow motion, there are stunning shots of the rocks on the ground rising and the dirt on cars shaking because of the huge impact of the explosion. There are quick reaction shots and shot counter shots to once again emphasize the quick thoughts and intensity.

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There are a variety of angles in this sequence to let the viewer experience different perspectives of the scene. Straight-on angles, low angles, and high angles, are used to demonstrate the views on the action. P.O.V shots are frequent. These types of shots are used when Eldridge is looking through his gun to the butcher shop. We are able to step into his shoes and see the action from his perspective. Also, we get P.O.V –like shots from spectators around the scene of trouble. At certain points in the sequence, we see Iraqi men observing the Army men and then when the bomb explodes we have angles from their position. As a result, we see the action from different perspectives.

The film is set in Iraq but some of it was actually shot in Jordan and Kuwait. The setting of the film was realistic and the lighting, space, and acting were reflective. The space of the film and the sequence were at times documentary “snapshot” quality. The documentary style of the film was used to “portray” real life experience and events in a life of a solider. Space was used as a frame, but the camera moved like a documentary camera and allowed the actor and action to not be center and enter in and out of frame. As part of the mise-en-scene and in addition to the setting, the actors and costumes were realistic and professional.

Lighting in this sequence and in the rest of the film was very realistic. It used frontal lighting to make the area seem as natural as possible. There are neutral colors, which was important because they were filming a real situation and they weren’t trying to make a new world. The neutral colors are also reflective of the environment in Iraq. There’s a lot of dust and dirt and the use of colors and the setting reflects this. It contrasts with the land of America.

This sequence has a lot of cuts reflecting the editing. The type of editing in this sequence isn’t very continuous, and it is very quick. It doesn’t follow the typical Hollywood continuity editing style, but it is fast-paced and random. Even though it doesn’t follow this continuity editing style, the sequence’s editing is reflective of the chaos that is happening.

Even though this sequence is at the beginning of the film and doesn’t contain the main character Will, it is an essential part of the film. The emphasis of film techniques and the emotional death at the end serve as a foreshadow and reminder of the seriousness of the war. This film is not just another war story; it is an intense and different perspective of the war. Will is torn between two homes; Iraq and America with his son and girlfriend. This sequence portrays the possible fate that Will could face. He could die from disarming bombs, like Thompson did, and leave his family. As an essential part of the film, the beginning sequence has the elements and style that elevates the meaning of the rest of theHurt Locker.

(Video) Opening Scene Analysis


How do you start a scene analysis? ›

To analyze a scene in a film, begin by watching the scene several times while taking notes on the director's choices, from camera angles to character casting. Next, form a hypothesis about the scene based on your notes, like how the director's choice of camera angles affects the point of view.

What makes an effective opening scene? ›

Effective scenes are clear about what they set out to accomplish and how they contribute to the overall plot. They might include plot points or reveal important information needed to move a story forward. Establish your scene's intention from the very first word and keep the rest of the scene on point.

How long should an opening scene be? ›

A good opening scene is one that draws the audience in and makes them want to continue watching. There are many different ways to do this, depending on the type of film or movie you are making. The starting scene of a movie can range from being a single shot lasting only a few seconds to several minutes long.

Why is the opening scene of a movie so important? ›

Your opening shot sets the tone of the rest of your film. It introduces your audience to you. It gives you a chance to touch upon important themes and elements, and apply certain techniques, such as foreshadowing and juxtaposition.

How do you write a good scene analysis? ›

Take notes on the scene. Study the way the characters interact and what that says about each character. Dissect the choice of camera angles and the scene's setting and overall purpose. Formulate a hypothesis based on a fact you want to prove about the scene you chose.

How do you start a film analysis essay? ›

1. Introduction. The introductory part of a film analysis essay contains some fundamental information about the movie, like the film title, release date, and director's name. In other words, the reader should get familiar with some background information about the film.

What is a powerful opening? ›

The first and last sentences are the most important sentences in your speech. The first sentence grabs your audience's attention and sets the tone for the entire event.

What are three characteristics that are important for a good opening to a novel? ›

Here are 12 tips for how to write a good hook!
  • Startle readers with the first line. ...
  • Begin at a life-changing moment. ...
  • Create intrigue about the characters. ...
  • Use a setting as the inciting incident. ...
  • Up the stakes within the first few pages. ...
  • Introduce something ominous right away. ...
  • Set the mood.
Jun 13, 2018

What is an opening scene called? ›

A title sequence (also called an opening sequence or intro) is the method by which films or television programmes present their title and key production and cast members, utilizing conceptual visuals and sound (often a opening theme song with visuals, akin to a brief music video).

How many pages is an opening scene in a script? ›

Most scenes in most films will last one to three minutes, or approximate three pages of your script.

How long is an opening sequence? ›

Title sequences are brief (and typically less than two minutes long) but can still incorporate a lot of different visual elements. This includes typography, production design, lighting, color scheme, shot footage, still images, motion graphics, and more.

What is the best opening scene to a movie? ›

The Best Opening Scenes Of All Time, Ranked
  • 8 The Dark Knight.
  • 7 The Matrix.
  • 6 There Will Be Blood.
  • 5 Inglourious Basterds.
  • 4 The Social Network.
  • 3 The Godfather.
  • 2 Jaws.
  • 1 Saving Private Ryan.
Jul 22, 2022

What is the most challenging part of film analysis? ›

Which of the following is the most challenging aspect of film analysis? reach more definite conclusions about the film's meaning and value.

How do you analyze a drama scene? ›

Re-read the scene/passage you're analyzing and answer the following questions:
  1. Who are the characters on the stage?
  2. What is the central issue the characters are discussing?
  3. What are the views of the characters in the scene? ...
  4. Does the author seem to try to get you to side with one particular side?
May 24, 2014

What is the first step of analyzing a film? ›

The first step is understand how the film is put together as a whole. Examine narrative films in terms of plot, story, causality, time, and space. Analyze the pattern of development. Look for variations in restricted and unrestricted knowledge.

How do you write an introduction? ›

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order: An opening hook to catch the reader's attention. Relevant background information that the reader needs to know. A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

What is a film analysis outline? ›

It includes looking into the film's themes, plot, and motives. The analysis aims to identify three main elements: setup, confrontation, and resolution. You should find out whether the film follows this structure and what effect it creates.

Whats a good opening sentence? ›

Start with the chase. A good hook might also be a question or a claim—anything that will elicit an emotional response from a reader. Think about it this way: a good opening sentence is the thing you don't think you can say, but you still want to say. Like, “This book will change your life.”

What are some good opening sentences? ›

First sentence examples
  • The only way to ___.
  • Would you rather have ___ or ___?
  • There are two types of people, ___, and ___.
  • The more you ___, the easier ___ gets.
  • Do you think you understand how to ___? Here is why you're wrong.
  • I always told myself that ___. ...
  • Five years ago, I ___.
  • ___ is the perfect way to ___.
Jan 19, 2021

What is a good opening speech? ›

A good introduction needs to get the audience's attention, state the topic, make the topic relatable, establish credibility, and preview the main points. Introductions should be the last part of the speech written, as they set expectations and need to match the content.

What makes a good opening chapter? ›

Your opening scene should pique your reader's curiosity, establish your narrative voice, and serve a thematic introduction to the rest of the story. That's a lot of pressure to place on your first scene, which is why many people wait until they've written their whole book before returning to their opening lines.

How do you write a good opening paragraph for a story? ›

6 Tips for Writing a Memorable Opening Line
  1. Start in the middle of a story. The first lines don't have to begin with long descriptions of a room's appearance or a character's personality. ...
  2. Open with a mystery. ...
  3. Flash back to the past. ...
  4. Describe the current state of affairs. ...
  5. Set the tone. ...
  6. Start with a voice.
Nov 8, 2021

What is important for a good opening to a novel? ›

Something must grab the reader's attention immediately. This can be an unusual use of language, a unique voice, a startling action, a bit of dialogue, an active description of setting (be careful on this one to keep it active!), or a mood that is set up. Get attention fast.

What is the first step of analyzing a film? ›

The first step is understand how the film is put together as a whole. Examine narrative films in terms of plot, story, causality, time, and space. Analyze the pattern of development. Look for variations in restricted and unrestricted knowledge.

How do you analyze a scene in acting? ›

Script analysis is the key to understanding the scene. The first thing actors must do is read the scene over and over and over.
Get Cast Today
  1. What is the character literally doing?
  2. What does the character want the other characters in the scene to do?
  3. What is my action?
  4. What is that action like to me? It's "as if…"
Jan 7, 2021

How do you analyze a drama scene? ›

Re-read the scene/passage you're analyzing and answer the following questions:
  1. Who are the characters on the stage?
  2. What is the central issue the characters are discussing?
  3. What are the views of the characters in the scene? ...
  4. Does the author seem to try to get you to side with one particular side?
May 24, 2014

How do you write a film analysis? ›

Writing the film analysis essay
  1. Give the clip your undivided attention at least once. Pay close attention to details and make observations that might start leading to bigger questions.
  2. Watch the clip a second time. ...
  3. Take notes while you watch for the second time.


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5. The Queen Film Techniques | Opening Scene Analysis
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6. Analysis of Negotiation Scenes From Movie “The Godfather (1972)” Bonasera, by Devina Hermawan.

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