Great Movie Openings Series

Great Movie Openings will be an ongoing article which focuses on 1 film that know how to grab you from scene 1.

Today’s Scene is from: Magnolia

Magnolia is my favorite film of Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s also one of my favorite movies period. The brilliant way it weaves multiple stories into a resolution, each separate but connected. Just like us.

The opening of Magnolia is genius because the narration basically sets up the ending right away. Most people are shocked, and a lot of people hated, about the incident that brings on the end of this film. However, if you pay attention to the opening it should not come as any surprise.

What’s great about the opening is that we hear stories about things that seem to strange to be either just chance or coincidence. We’ve all been there. You meet a person, who in some way is connected to you in a weird way. No real reason for it, but it feels more than just an odd occurrence. Are these people or things placed in our paths to have some meaning to our lives? Or is it that we all are connected regardless if we know each other. We can all become a difference in someone’s life just by our presence. It almost seems to be that we are all part of one element. One gigantic tree that just splits off from the same trunk.

The opening of Magnolia gives us different scenarios and lays flat the idea that maybe our choices aren’t made by us. It almost seems to posit the idea of a predestined path. What we think we have control of, we don’t, and by an invisible string we are pulled toward our destiny.

Magnolia truly is a masterpiece and it’s filled with great performances and ideas. The opening is so much important to how the movie plays out, and it is something unto itself. With beautiful narration by Ricky Jay you are at once put directly into the directors hands and if you can believe or go along with the opening stories, the movie will play even better for you.

Included is the opening and ending scene as I feel they are both part of the same, it truly does come full circle.


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10 thoughts on “Great Movie Openings Series

  1. Good film. Good performances.

    I like the end, the way the dialogue is indistinct and the moment she finally smiles. But the opening is superb. I lent the DVD to a bloke at work who’d never heard of the film & he came back full of praise – but he said that, ‘the start is brilliant, you get pulled in straight away’. It’s also funny seeing the reaction of folk who haven’t seen Magnolia (and there appears to be quite a few) who then see The Cruise as they’ve never seen him before! It’s an eye-opener.

    That’s a mad ‘un as well, when they all start singing. Love that…

    • i love how the movie ties so much together in the end. And each story is interesting. really it’s like an anthology film almost. Do you know when you’ll be posting your new short? I can’t wait to read it Wolf

  2. Well, not sure. It’s not quite finished (and the second idea I had looks dead in the water) and I’m distracted by B/Day reviews again now. When it’s done, you’ll see it first.

    What happened with your ‘On Writing’ story? I missed the deadline; I hadn’t factored in the UK release of the book being later. Still thought I was just in time… Hey-ho. What was the story that won like, did you read it? I didn’t get the paperback version.

    • Sorry wolf, just saw this. Yeah, just email me your story when you get it finished. I can’t wait to read it. I posted a new one today, hope you like it.

      I missed the deadline but did the challenge anyway. I didn’t read the winning story, i got it as a gift as an audiobook and it wasn’t on their. I may have to do some searching haha

  3. I love Magnolia and watched it recently again with my flatmate who had never seen it. She and I had a worldwind friendship, we met one day, as market stall neighbours, then the next month she moved into a room that came up in our house. She has since reminded me that life is ALL about small connections, much like in the film. Don’t ignore them and smile as often as she does! Thank you for your writing.

    • thank you, that’s amazing! My wife and her friend went to Paris a few years ago, while looking for the catacombs they ran into some people who live about 20 minutes from our home in the states. Life is funny

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