Iconic Opening Lines from Movies and TV Turned into Art

Iconic Opening Lines from Movies and TV Turned into Art

We’re often told not to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes first impressions really do count – especially, we think, when it comes to film and TV. The opening moments of a movie or show’s pilot episode including its credits, first scene and crucially, the first spoken line, tell us a lot about the tone, mood, and themes to follow. So much so, that we decided some of the greatest opening lines from film and TV were deserving of being turned into works of art. 




Of all Will Ferrell’s characters, arguably his most famous (and quotable) has to be Ron Burgundy, from the film Anchorman. The classic comedy follows the Channel Four anchorman through a turbulent era in his career, from peak to destruction (and salvation) where we find Ron struggling to find relevance in an increasingly modern world (“I'm in a glass case of emotion!“).

And while Ron Burgundy clearly has his fans (“I'm kind of a big deal. People know me”), it’s clear from the outset that there’s no greater admirer of Ron than himself. From his finely groomed mane and moustache, to his exquisite taste in cologne (“60% of the time, it works every time”) Ron is clearly a man in his prime, a king amongst men, at least in the Channel Four newsroom...

Stay classy, San Diego!


Lord of the Rings


When Bilbo Baggins, a young hobbit from The Shire, first encounters the ring of power in the book “The Hobbit” neither he, nor indeed the author J.R.R Tolkien, knew its full purpose or potential.

Originally intended as a children’s story, Tolkien soon realised the idea of an enchanted ring, created with an evil purpose by its master, could convey a far darker message as a story for adults. The greed of men and the desire to wield power over others was a theme all too familiar to anyone living in the first half of the 20th century, and so Tolkien began writing his masterpiece The Lord of the Rings.

At the start of the 21st century, in Peter Jackson’s film adaption of the book, those ideas of corruption and weakness were further expanded and from the opening lines it’s clear that the age of adventure and exploration is over, that the world has changed, and a darker age had begun.

Those chill-inspiring, whispered first lines from Lady Galadriel, a high elf who has witnessed Middle Earth at war countless times, are spoken both with authority and a great sadness at a world she no longer recognises, or belongs in. A world where the magic and spirit of her kind must make way for the crudeness and selfishness of man.


Stranger Things


From the first hypnotic bars of the synth-heavy theme tune, Stranger Things captivates with its Spielbergian pastiche of all things nineteen-eighties. From Eggoes to Walkmen, there isn’t an eighties reference or name they haven’t dropped. To those of us who grew up watching films like The Goonies, or Gremlins, it’s a very convincing nostalgia trip.

So, it is perhaps fitting that when we meet our heroes, four young friends, they’re playing Dungeons & Dragons around a table in a basement; a not-so-subtle (and a perfectly eighties) hint at the fate that awaits them and their families.

Wait, did the lights just flicker?!


The Godfather


From the outset, The Godfather sets its stall for the rest of the movie. Spoken by Bonasera, a man seeking a favour from Brando’s Don Corleone because he believes he has been wronged by the American justice system after his daughter was beaten by her boyfriend and another man for refusing to have sex with him. 

Bonasera goes on to explain that he went to the police first but they failed him and that is why he is seeking justice from the criminal world. While it is not the main character that speaks the first lines, what follows is a 7-minute breakdown of how Don Corleone runs his business.

The conversation between the 2 hints at the business model that The Godfather has adopted (“we are not murderers”) and that it is an eye for an eye and not an eye for a tooth. It is quickly cemented that when you seek help from the Godfather that you are going to be in debt to him until he decides that it is repaid ("Someday, and that day may never come, I will call on you to do something for me. Until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter's wedding day.")

The opening line and following monologue foreshadow the rest of the film (and subsequent films) - how important family is throughout the trilogy, the need to pursue the American Dream that the Italian-American immigrant characters so desperately want, and the brutal justice that is used by Don Corleone and his business throughout the film. 


Game of Thrones


Spoken by Waymar Royce around 3 minutes into the first scene of Game of Thrones this opening line helps lay the land for one of the main sets of characters to evolve over several seasons and also hints at the brutality that most of the characters and houses show to each other over the course of the show.

The dead Wildlings beyond The Wall are viewed as barbarians early on by both the characters and initially by the audience. This representation of the Wildlings is allowed to ferment for some time in the show before their real, gentler characters are revealed.

There is a sense of irony in the fact that the word savages is used towards the Wildlings as we progress through the following episodes and seasons. Almost all characters and Houses are shown to be savages at some point. Betrayal is commonplace between siblings, characters who work together, and friends. Alliances are made and broken with many characters losing their lives due to these betrayals.


Lion King


As the sun rises on the Serengeti, the residents of Pride Rock prepare themselves for the inauguration of their future king. This 1994 Disney classic has become iconic for its use of rich, authentic colours and in the opening scene we see the dusty savannah come alive with native wildlife, excited for what's to come.

The opening scene is accompanied by the song Circle of Life which was written by Sir Elton John (who also secured a number 1 hit and an Oscar with his own rendition), produced by legendary composer Hans Zimmer and sung by African native Lebo M.

The first line is sung in Zulu, which is the official language of South Africa.“Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba Sithi uhm ingonyama” when translated into English means “Here comes a lion, father oh yes it’s a lion!” and though it doesn’t quite have the same spine-tingling presence as the Zulu version, it does remind us that the Lion King is here and we should be taking notice!


Black Swan


Dark, brooding and emotive, from the outset Black Swan lets us into the psyche of a professional ballet dancer determined to be the best. Released in 2010, this Oscar winning film from Darren Aronofsky encourages us to appreciate that there is much more to the grace and beauty of ballet than what we see on stage. 

It starts with ballerina, Nina, pushing herself to the limit for her art; a ballerina whose career rules every aspect of her life. In the opening scene, we see intimate close ups of her struggles for perfection, the black and white cinematography and intense music foreshadowing the ending of the film - the battle between good and evil.

The first line of the film is “I had the craziest dream last night… I was dancing the White Swan”. From this, we learn that Nina (portrayed by Natalie Portman) is relentless in her mission to become the principal dancer in her company’s production of Swan Lake, that this role is hers for the taking, regardless of how close to the edge of madness it may take her. But what about the Black Swan? Does she have it in her to play the role? Or will her insecurities get the better of her, leading her on a path of total self-destruction?

*Please note these are all digital works of art and are not available to purchase online or in any of our stores.

Posted by Chris Turner
11th March 2019

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