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Author Topic: HEARTBREAK RIDGE: Style and Technique 5. The Opening Credits Sequence  (Read 7072 times)
mgk
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« on: March 31, 2004, 11:16:23 PM »

Heartbreak Ridge opens with an elaborate sequence in black and white, composed of newsreel footage from the Korean War, over which we hear first drums, then the  Hal David/Paul Hampton song "Sea of Heartbreak." After the credits conclude, the first scene of the film continues in black and white, as we hear (off camera) Highway's long harangue in his jail cell, until the moment when Highway appears onscreen, when the black and white gives way to color.

This was one of the last of the full opening credits sequences in an Eastwood film. Since the time of Heartbreak Ridge, he has mainly introduced his films with just a logo, the name of his production company and the distributing studio, and the title. The long list of collaborators and the roles they performed in the film's creation is only shown at the end, after the story concludes.

What do you think of the opening sequence? Is it an effective introduction to the story, the setting and the main character? How does the style fit in with the rest of the film? Can you think of another opening credits sequence in an Eastwood film to which it bears a certain similarity?

In general, do you like to see opening credits sequences in films, and find out who the principal collaborators are before the film begins, or would you rather be taken right into the story?
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D'Ambrosia
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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2004, 09:08:11 AM »

I like the credit sequence.  It's almost like a Josey Wales kind of thing.  It tells a little story.  It's like a little movie inside a movie.  I love the snare drums tapping and then it goes into the "Sea Of Heartbreak" song and ending with a disolve shot from black and white into color and Highway telling his "war" stories in the jail cell.
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allycat
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2004, 04:24:47 PM »

I like the opening sequence too. It was very effective - it set the tone for the film, and more evocative going from a silent reel to a sort of drum beat. The images were really powerful - a tank, soldiers marching, guns firing, and ending with (presumably) a little Korean child, crying.

I liked the music with the banjo - what's the song, 'Sea of Heartbreak'? That seemed to start playing when the footage of the injured troops was playing.

It was more striking having the b/w footage at the beginning before it went into colour, and, the present day. It seemed more stark...like bringing home the reality of war. For some reason it reminded me of Schindler's List, even though this was actual footage and in Schindler's List, the whole film (save for the end I think) is shot in b/w. I think because it's a film about war, it just sprang to mind. I think it also has actual wartime footage in too, of the Holocaust victims.

Anyway, hope that wasn't too off-topic there. In general I really like opening credit sequences to films.
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Brendan
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2004, 06:26:08 PM »

Much like what D'Amb and Ally have said, it tells a story. It gives you a slight background on Gunny, showing the wars he's been in and even just what war is like and what he's been through. It's a good way to develope his character, and even some of the other older characters, in the film with out having to spend time mentioning or explaining anything.
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dane with no name
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2004, 03:59:59 PM »

Quote
I like the credit sequence.  It's almost like a Josey Wales kind of thing.  It tells a little story.  It's like a little movie inside a movie.  I love the snare drums tapping and then it goes into the "Sea Of Heartbreak" song and ending with a disolve shot from black and white into color and Highway telling his "war" stories in the jail cell.
Dead on. couldnt have said it better myself.
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AKA23
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2004, 08:07:29 PM »

Unlike the others who have given their thoughts in this thread, I didn't really like the opening scene of this film. I thought that the black and white montage with all of the war images were a bit boring and too long. It seemed to me to be too removed from the film as well, but it is an interesting perspective that the black and white montage serves to take us back to an earlier time, to point out the anachronistic nature of the old warriors like Gunny who served all of those years earlier. I think I would have liked this film better if it just went straight into the film with little or no credits as most of Eastwood's recent films have done.  
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KC
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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2004, 05:39:06 PM »

I think it's an effective introduction to the character and his background. The use of the song "Sea of Heartbreak" ties in nicely with the title. I find it especially poignant that the newsreel footage moves from battle scenes, to scenes of wounded soldiers, to images of the misery of civilians. There is no way the film we are about to see is going to glorify war.

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Can you think of another opening credits sequence in an Eastwood film to which it bears a certain similarity?
I'm surprised nobody answered this. It is very similar to the opening credits sequence of The Beguiled (except that, of course, the opening documentary images there are still photgraphs) ... even to the use of black and white, which changes to color when the protagonist appears onscreen.
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Matt
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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2004, 07:02:58 PM »

Thanks to everyone for participating in this discussion. This topic is now closed, please post any additional thoughts in the General Discussion forum.
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