“I can now tell from the envelope whether or not it is a good script”. – Peter O’Toole
A great opening line to a movie can often set the quality bar high, so you know, or hope at least, you’re about to watch a film that will stick with you for a long time.
It’s an opportunity for the director to set the scene, establish the main protagonists and engage the mood with the audience, a chance to plunge viewers head first into the story or tantalise them with the endless possibilities the next ninety minutes will have in store.
Being bona fide movie lovers ourselves, we’ve put together what might be the very best opening lines in movie history.
“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.”
Apocalypse Now (1979)
“Saigon. S**t! I’m still only in Saigon. Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in the jungle.”
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
“Random thoughts for Valentine’s Day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.”
“There’s a hundred-thousand streets in this city. You don’t need to know the route. You give me a time and a place, I give you a five minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours. No matter what. Anything happens a minute either side of that and you’re on your own. Do you understand?”
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”
Sin City (2005)
“She shivers in the wind like the last leaf on a dying tree. I let her hear my footsteps. She only goes stiff for a moment.”
Forest Gump (1994)
“Hello. My name’s Forrest. Forrest Gump. Do you want a chocolate? I could eat about a million and a half of these. My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Cape Fear (1991)
“My reminiscence. I always thought that for such a lovely river, the name is mystifying: Cape Fear. When the only thing to fear on those enchanted summer nights was that the magic would end and real life would come crashing in.”
“One time, my cousin Walter got this cat stuck in his ass.”
“Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head. Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn’t be falling out. Life is short.”
L.A. Confidential (1997)
“Come to Los Angeles! The sun shines bright, the beaches are wide and inviting, and the orange groves stretch as far as the eye can see. There are jobs aplenty, and land is cheap. Every working man can have his own house, and inside every house, a happy, all-American family. You can have all this, and who knows, you could even be discovered, become a movie star, or at least see one. Life is good in Los Angeles. It’s paradise on Earth.”
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
“My name is Max. My world is fire and blood. Once, I was a cop. A road warrior searching for a righteous cause. As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who was more crazy… me… or everyone else.”
What are your favourite opening lines from a movie? Let us know in the comments below.
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