->''In A.D. 2101\\
[[TropeNamer War Was Beginning]].''
-->-- ''VideoGame/ZeroWing''

In any film beginning in wartime InMediasRes, it is almost taken for granted that a narration intoning [[OpeningScroll opening text]] will describe the start of the war and provide a little history lesson... even if it's a fictional war.

* Opening narration / text crawl, often over a map, with drums or other [[OminousLatinChanting fanfare]]. (This trope is big on drums.)
** Story begins InMediasRes...
** Usually, with an [[BondOpeningSequence Action Prologue]].

Opting for an ActionPrologue ''with narration on top'', over [[{{Newsreel}} stock footage of combat]] or StuffBlowingUp may produce {{Narm}}: People don't generally like to mix their opening crawl with their Opening Action Sequence.

However, one may immediately cut to combat scenes InMediasRes as soon as the narration ends; indeed, it's almost expected, to the point where you can throw people off ([[UndeadHorseTrope but not really]]) with quiet scenes set in a better time/place, if you're seeking a slow build:

* Cut to a quiet scene in {{Arcadia}}; the hero will learn of the impending war about to [[DoomedHometown wreck his world]] by way of a {{Herald}}, such as a wounded relative; see BearerOfBadNews, HarbingerOfImpendingDoom.
* Or the hero may turn out to be tragically related to the prosecution of the war somehow, such as: a family member started it, or got killed in the initial attack.

This opening narration requirement can be removed if, as often the case, the writer decides on one of the alternatives, such as:

# Show how the future protagonists react to the start of the war, in a "where were you when"... way.\\
This is a useful way to introduce the future protagonists to the audience one after the other -- a DebutQueue.
# Depict the events leading up to the start of the war, even if it happened years before the main story.\\
This will be done in an Opening Action Sequence involving StuffBlowingUp, possibly [[EarthShatteringKaboom Earth]].
# If it's a war everyone's heard of, the [[AudienceSurrogate audience viewpoint]] character is simply informed that a war is on, averting this trope. Not as common as the others, due to SmallReferencePools: World War II movies filmed ''during the war'' rarely opened with a War Was Beginning recap.
# Use a [[SpinningNewspaper newspaper headline]]. While it obviates the characters from invoking AsYouKnow when it's a war "everyone's heard of",[[note]]not so much when it's a fictional war, allegory or not,[[/note]] the headlines ''themselves'' are usually anachronistic from an in-universe perspective. e.g. "UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo Begins," or worse, "UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne Begins," [[CriticalResearchFailure as if people back then knew it would be the first of two]].

Not to be [[UnstuckInTime confused]] with DuringTheWar.

See also OpeningScroll.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/HowlsMovingCastle'' may be an example. There is no narration explicitly telling us that war is coming, but soon after the opening of the film we see a big parade of troops, tanks, and flying machines moving through the city to cheering crowds, and we overhear conversations on the street about rising tensions with a neighbouring kingdom over a missing prince.
* ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'' opens with a description of the events of the One Year War before the series begins.
* The very first thing ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' shows us (after the great intro) is: "In the year 2015 AD". Cue peaceful landscapes full of military hardware. Cue giant monster...
* ''Franchise/CodeGeass'' establishes the general rise to power of the Britannian Empire (more specifically their invasion of Japan) in the first episode.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'': Issue seven of the second volume starts with Starhawk narrating about the original Guardians fighting the Badoon invasion of Earth, giving a summary of their powers. And then they suddenly start dying one by one, because time is falling apart at the seams, explaining why Starhawk has been travelling back to the 21st century.


* ''Film/LordOfTheRings'' starts with Galadriel giving us a history lesson about Sauron.
* ''Film/{{Casablanca}}'': "With the coming of the UsefulNotes/SecondWorldWar..."
* ''Film/ToBeOrNotToBe'': "Lubinski... Kubinski... Lominski... Rozanski and Poznanski... we're in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. It's August, 1939. Europe is still at peace..."
* ''Film/ThreeHundred'' -- combination of an {{Arcadia}} opening and HowWeGotHere, with a [[DarkIsEvil dark]] Persian {{Herald}} descending on the golden plains of Sparta. Somewhat subverted in that the ''entire movie'' is narrated with ominous [[LargeHam "and so it begins"]] intonation by David Wenham.
* ''Film/MadMax2TheRoadWarrior'': "For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all."
* ''{{Film/Serenity}}'' plays with this: there are multiple nested opening sequences, and the first is a narrated description of the interplanetary civil war that Mal [[TheRemnant has still not quite stopped fighting even though his side lost,]] [[WrittenByTheWinners from the perspective of the Alliance.]]
* The first ''Power Rangers'' movie has a text crawl, which a solemn voice then reads to us, about the villain's backstory.
* ''Film/PacificRim'' opens with narration about the appearance of the {{Kaiju}}, the destruction they wrought, and the development of the [[HumongousMecha Jaegars]].

* Every ''Film/StarWars'' movie.
** ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'' is the most direct about it, as it begins its OpeningCrawl with the phrase: "[[ThisMeansWar War!]]"
** ''Film/ANewHope'':
--->''It is a period of civil war. Rebel starships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against [[ObviouslyEvil the evil]] [[TheEmpire Galactic Empire...]]''
* The opening of ''Film/{{Troy}}'' (a particularly wordy example), and...
* ''Film/LastOfTheMohicans''. Both with drums. Always with the drums!
-->America 1757
-->It is the third year of war between France and England for [[TheEmpire possession of the continent]].
-->Three men, the [[LastOfHisKind last of a vanishing people]], are on the frontier west of the Hudson river...
* ''Film/TheAdventuresOfRobinHood'':
--> "In the year of Our Lord 1191, when Richard the Lion-Heart set forth to drive the infidels from the Holy Land..."
** ''Film/RobinHood2010'' does it similarly.
* ''Film/FireOverEngland'' begins with a remarkably pompous and tendentious one:
-->"In 1587 Spain Powerful in the Old World Master in the New Its King Philip Rules By Force and Fear But Spanish Tyranny is Challenged by the Free People of a Little Island England..."
* ''Film/MasterAndCommander'':
--> "April 1805. [[UsefulNotes/NapoleonBonaparte Napoleon]] [[UsefulNotes/TheNapoleonicWars is master of Europe]]. Only the British fleet stands before him. [[WoodenShipsAndIronMen Oceans are now battlefields.]]"
--> "HMS ''Surprise''. 28 guns, 197 souls, north coast of Brazil. Admiralty orders to cpt. J. Aubrey: 'Intercept French privateer ''Acheron'', en route to Pacific, intent on carrying the war into those waters. Sink, burn or take her a Prize...'"

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Parodied in the ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' "Ypres 1914" sketch. This was used as a ColdOpen in several Monty Python sketches.
-->In 1914, the balance of power lay in ruins. Europe was plunged into bloody conflict. Nation fought nation. But no nation fought nation morely than the English hip hip hooray! Nice, nice yah boo. Phillips is a German and he have my pen...
* The first ''HoratioHornblower'' TV film took place at the Royal Navy anchorage in Spithead, with the midshipmen discussing the ongoing revolution in France. In particular, the fact that King Louis XVI had just been captured.
-->''What do you think they'll do with him? [[DramaticIrony You can't kill a king!]]''
** [[FridgeLogic Rather an ignorant thing for an Englishman to say, given that England had executed its king less than one hundred and fifty years before the French Revolution.]] [[note]][[UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar And eventually ended up giving his heir the throne back]], so maybe the middie wasn't speaking literally.[[/note]]
* ''Series/FallingSkies'' just pulled off this trope with a little kid in the role of narrator, recounting what he knows of the alien invasion to date while his crayon drawings are displayed.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' began with an OpeningScroll briefly detailing the Maquis guerrilla war against the Federation and Cardassians, then cut to Chakotay's ship, involved in a running lightfight with a Cardassian destroyer. The whole sequence looks like a ShoutOut to ''Film/ANewHope'', except Chakotay's ship ''escapes''.

* One of the more famous examples is the prologue to [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespeare's]] ''Main/RomeoAndJuliet'':
-->''Two households, both alike in dignity,''\\
''In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,''\\
''From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,''\\
''Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean...''\\

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The TropeNamer is a quote from ''VideoGame/ZeroWing''; that is an example as well.
** More {{Narm}}-fully, it features a cold open over StuffBlowingUp, ''then'' the narration starts.
* Also, ''VideoGame/DuneII: The Building of a Dynasty''. "Vast armies have arrived. Now, three Houses fight for control of Dune. (sic) Only one House will prevail. Your battle for Dune begins... now-ow-ow-ow-ow..."
* ''VideoGame/YggdraUnion'' and ''VideoGame/YggdraUnison'' both start with the classic text scroll as Gulcasa's attack on Karona is related to the player.
* The first part from the real time tactical ''VideoGame/{{Myth}}'' game series also begins like this: "In a time long past, the armies of the Dark came again into the lands of men."
* ''VideoGame/SuperMetroid'' plays out a double-subversion. It ''claims'' "The galaxy is at peace" but you are quickly shown the LivingMacguffin both sides are going to fight over and the damage from the opening salvos.
* Every game in the ''VideoGame/EscapeVelocity'' series starts by explaining the current war. The original and ''Override'' had {{opening scroll}}s (detailing the Alien War and the start of the Rebellion in the first case, and the United Earth/Voinian War in the second). ''EV Nova'' changed it to four splashscreens.
* ''VideoGame/{{X}}3: Terran Conflict'' explains the roots of the titular SpaceColdWar in its opening cinematic. ''X3: Albion Prelude'' shows us how that cold war turned into a hot war.
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTheSacredStones'' starts with this, then segues into TheEmpire sacking the protagonists' castle.
* ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'' does this for it's opening level.. It is awesome.
-->'''"The foul, impure beasts that roam the land ~ the Gohma.\\
In order to save civilization from their neverending threat, the demigods who governed the world created an ultimate weapon that would wipe the Gohma of the face of the planet once and for all.\\
Their legions were led by eight elite demigods ~ the Eight Guardian Generals. One of them, General Asura, was in the thick of battle."'''
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' opens with a text crawl that recaps the events of the first two games and ''Arrival'':
-->'''In 2157, humanity discovered that it was not alone in the universe.\\
Thirty years later, they found a peaceful place among dozens of galactic species.\\
But this idyllic future is overshadowed by a dark past: Reapers, a sentient race of machines responsible for cleansing the galaxy of all organic life every 50,000 years, are about to return.\\
The leaders of the galaxy are paralyzed by indecision, unable to accept the legend of the Reapers as fact.\\
But one soldier has seen the legend come to life.\\
And now the fate of the galaxy depends on him / her.'''
** ...then enters a fairly quiet scene involving the PlayerCharacter on trial for the events of the previous game -- which is interrupted by a full-blown AlienInvasion.
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3''
-->After the end of World War II,\\
the world was split into two -- East and West.\\
This marked the beginning of the era called the Cold War.\\

* ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChroniclesIII'' combines this with AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent. The intro movie (which is actually in the style of a war documentary) tells of the story of Gallian War ''and'' [[VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles the decorated hero that saved the nation]], before turning away from them and into the [[TheGreatestStoryNeverTold unrecorded chronicles]] of [[ArmyOfThievesAndWhores The Nameless]].
* Most of the ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' games start with Creator/RonPerlman narrating about the war. Even though the war is technically over, its lasting impact colors the setting throughout.
* ''VideoGame/WarhammerMarkOfChaos'' begins with the rolling map illuminated by small explosions and fires, with the narrator describing the state of affairs in the Empire defending from the Chaos invasion. In a bit of a twist the main war is already over, and the game is about a local war with a splinter force.
* ''Robo Aleste'' begins by describing an AlternateHistory version of the UsefulNotes/SengokuJidai, whose course changed with the introduction of HumongousMecha and airships.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'''s TitleSequence has a Katara voiceover briefly describing the Fire Nation's war and the Avatar's failure to stop it. The first episode goes into greater detail on her people in particular. The first few episodes involve giving [[TheChosenOne Aang]] a history lesson on the world war he [[HumanPopsicle slept through]].