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So It Begins – Lord of War

Posted on the 10 January 2012 by Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

As part of my New Year’s Resolution to start branching out more with my film blog, I decided to do more film centric articles, almost in the same vain as the Top Ten Lists or even more analysis/praise of particular things about film.  As of late I have been reading a lot of different film blogs and appreciating all the work that others have done with the medium of film, but one particular has caught my eye and really made me appreciate what it is I love most about movies.

In some ways, we as a movie going audience have become numb to what all goes into a film.  The beginning, middle and ending of a film are just the parts of the film that we think begins with the start of the story.  Once the title cards roll past the screen, we assume that is when the movie begins.  In reality, there is a subtle art that goes into the opening title sequences.  It isn’t just about telling us who is in the movie, but the title sequence can be a mechanism in which a story it setup or thematic elements of a film can be explained.  The blog entitled, Art of the Title, is a fantastic site that goes into deep, critical analysis of the title sequences of some of the best movies out there.  Another fantastic site called, Forget the Film, Watch the Titles, expands upon the art of the opening and even crosses over to television openings.  Both sites feature amazing interviews and chronicle some of the previous incarnations of opening sequences.  While they are sites strictly dedicated to that art form, I am doing this as more of an expansion on my repertoire of film postings.

While I will try and give some insight in the thematic elements and meaning of the opening sequences, if you want to explore more of the art and direction that goes into the title openings, check out the sites mentioned above.

So to start off the first of many posts on the subject, today will be about the opening sequence for the film, Lord of War.

So It Begins – Lord of War

The title sequence is called “The Life of a Bullet”.  In the opening, we witness the life of a bullet, from the creation of it in a manufacturing plant, to the travels across the globe and eventually the end of the journey in the head of a small, child rebel.  The sequence has an incredible impact and meaning to the film, a film in which we are following the rise and fall of an illegal arms dealer played by Nic Cage.

While at first it might just be a cool use of CGI and a way to make the film interesting, when you watch the movie and the subject matter that director Andrew Niccol portrays, the bullet itself takes on the role of a pivotal character in Lord of War.  We watch the journey from start to finish, much like a human from birth to death, the bullet becomes a part of the movie since it has a bigger role in the grand scheme of war.  The bullet itself is emotionless, kills indiscriminately and changes the landscape of combat.  It’s the currency of combat itself, where money is needed to buy the use of bullets to win a war.  They are the unnamed soldiers in combat since they are ultimately what decides who lives and dies.

I have touched upon the film Lord of War before in my Movie of the Day posts, so I won’t go into the technical aspects about what made the film great.  All I will say that the use of transforming the bullet into a narrative tale about the life of the bullet is effective, even if it might be a bit too stark in it’s depiction.  The first person point of view aspect might remind us a bit too much of a video games, but how else would we view the bullet and its travels.

The use of the song is a bit cliche I will admit, but considering the ending of the clip concludes with the death of a child soldier, the imagery and music fits into the theme.

So It Begins – Lord of War

Well that is it for the first of, what I hope to be, many more posts that highlight the opening of films.  Sure, most of the openings out there are just title cards that show us who is in the movie, but there are movies out there that actually make an effort to use the medium to expand the film.  If you like this, let me know and I can feel justified in myself to continue analyzing films and all the parts that make up the whole.


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