Created By: Kingofwackyland on January 4, 2013 Last Edited By: Kingofwackyland on April 24, 2013

Symbolic Opening

The first shot of a film symbolically conveys the tone/central theme.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
They say first impressions are everything. In film, shots must be arranged in a certain order. Thus, it is the responsibility of the opening shot to get the ball rolling in the right direction, so to speak. In order to accomplish this, filmmakers will often choose imagery for the opening shot that they think will put viewers in the proper state of mind in which to experience the work. For example, a film about a character who yearns for freedom might open with a shot of birds flying majestically into the sky.


Examples

  • The Searchers begins with a shot inside a house, looking out the front door. As someone's silhouette steps out the door, the camera dollies forward, until the sweeping desert vista outside fills the entire screen. The conflict between civilization and the wilderness of the American West (and whether someone at home in that wilderness has a place in civilization) is a major theme of the film.
  • Citizen Kane opens on the image of a metal gate with a sign reading "No Trespassing" on it. This symbolizes the title character's emotional isolation and difficulty relating with others.
  • The feather blowing in the wind at the beginning of Forrest Gump. It is often thought to represent the randomness and unpredictability of life, as well as the main character's "go with the flow" attitude that becomes one of his keys to success.

Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • January 5, 2013
    Arivne
    Sometimes uses a Dramatic Landfall Shot.
  • January 5, 2013
    Koveras
    Kinda like the feather bookmark flying through the air in Forrest Gump?
  • January 5, 2013
    Kingofwackyland
    The feather from Forrest Gump was one of the examples I had in mind, yes.
  • January 5, 2013
    MetaFour
    • The Searchers begins with a shot inside a house, looking out the front door. As someone's silhouette steps out the door, the camera dollies forward, until the sweeping desert vista outside fills the entire screen. The conflict between civilization and the wilderness of the American West (and whether someone at home in that wilderness has a place in civilization) is a major theme of the film.
  • January 5, 2013
    LikeSnowyNights
    Wouldn't the Title "Opening Shot" work better? Not all of these are static images.
  • January 5, 2013
    Kingofwackyland
    This trope is referred to as "Opening Image" in Syd Field's paradigm, an influential screenwriting theory.
  • January 7, 2013
    MokonaZero
    I think Open Shot sounds better since at the start of the trope the order of shots in a film are discussed.
  • January 7, 2013
    Kingofwackyland
    The title has been changed.
  • January 10, 2013
    Fighteer
    This is an Omnipresent Trope in almost all media. It doesn't gather examples because 99.9% of works have one. You should not launch it as a normal trope; it would be a Super Trope of all the other variations of Opening Shot, like Cold Open, etc.
  • January 10, 2013
    MetaFour
    The name Opening Shot is way too broad. This trope is more specific than that.
  • January 10, 2013
    Tallens
    This could easily be split into dozens of categories based on the kind of mood that is being established, how it's presented, etc.
  • January 10, 2013
    Oreochan
    Name suggestions: Symbolic Opening Shot? Meaningful Opening Shot?

    I also agree that this is an Omnipresent Trope and probably shouldn't have examples.
  • January 10, 2013
    Kingofwackyland
    re:Fighteer: I get that the idea of a significant opening shot is pretty much universal, but is the symbolism element of this trope too common? I mean, some works have more symbolism than others. I don't know if making this a Super Trope would allow it to focus on the symbolism.

    re:Meta Four: How about Symbolic Opening?
  • January 11, 2013
    Fighteer
    We have Rule Of Symbolism. Look there for stuff that might apply. I'm not sure that the use of symbolism all by itself is enough to make a trope; it seems like you're combining two unrelated concepts. But if you think it might be, then go for Symbolic Opening and see if anything sticks.
  • April 24, 2013
    Tallens
    This has been sitting here a while and since there seems to be something already covering it, I move we toss it.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=0mu29sb3k9egkhjl848e54z1