6 Most Iconic Movie Opening Lines That Instantly Grab Your Attention

6 Most Iconic Movie Opening Lines That Instantly Grab Your Attention
Image credit: A Band Apart, Zehnte Babelsberg

Are you listening carefully?

The opening scenes of a movie have the power to either make or break the movie. But the memorable first line can linger in the mind and take control of the audience for the rest of the film.

Here are 6 of the best movie opening lines of all time that have left an indelible mark on both the history of cinema and the audiences.

6. "Let me tell you what 'Like a Virgin' is about." — Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino is known for his iconic one-liners and jaw-dropping dialogue, and his directorial debut proves this by showcasing his unique style with an explicit sexual innuendo-laced opening. Delivered by Tarantino himself, this dialogue sets the tone for the film's conversational depth and characterization, captivating audiences from the start.

5. "When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. I picture cracking her lovely skull." — Gone Girl

With its unreliable narrator and surprising plot twists, David Fincher's brilliant psychological thriller Gone Girl keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Highlighting the importance of perception in the story, the book-inspired opening line sets the tone for the movie's manipulative, dark atmosphere.

4. "Are you watching closely?" — The Prestige

Christopher Nolan 's intricate storytelling shines as he suspensefully navigates the rivalry between magicians. Nolan's mastery of non-linear storytelling heightens the emotional impact and establishes intrigue from the start with the opening line, which sets the tone and serves as a thematic invitation that prepares the viewer for the intricate story to come.

3. "Long ago, the world was full of wonder. It was adventurous, exciting, and best of all, there was magic." — Onward

Pixar's animated urban fantasy adventure film shows how an opening line can build tension and excitement even in animated movies. The late father's narration goes beyond fantasy and serves as a poignant introduction that sets up the audience for magic as the boys read their father's letter. The line takes on a personal, imaginative tone that moves the characters throughout the entire movie.

6 Most Iconic Movie Opening Lines That Instantly Grab Your Attention - image 1

2. "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster." — Goodfellas

Martin Scorsese 's seminal work redefines the gangster film with its compelling dialogue and storytelling. Just a few lines into the film, an iconic piece of dialogue, coupled with the ominous opening scene, contrasts the glamor with the brutal reality and serves as the film's true opening, setting the tone for a riveting tale about the charm and harshness of gangster life.

1. "Cecilia was the first to go." — The Virgin Suicides

The opening scene of Sofia Coppola’s psychological romantic drama promptly introduces the opening scene of Sofia Coppola's psychological romantic drama immediately introduces its disturbing subject matter, transitioning from quiet suburbia to the sight of Cecilia in a bathtub.

The film's pithy and poetic opening line, delivered in narration as the scene cuts to Cecilia in the bathtub, is one of the most powerful in film history.

Bonus: Hans Landa's Opening Monologue — Inglourious Basterds

Hans Landa's 6-minute opening monologue is a riveting display of the cold-blooded SS officer's intelligence, manipulation, and sinister charm. Christoph Waltz's performance as Landa, questioning a French farmer about hidden Jewish refugees, highlights his multilingual skills and chilling courtesy.

The scene sets the film's tone and establishes Landa's enigmatic personality, showcasing Quentin Tarantino's ability to create compelling characters and intense moments.

Is Hans Landa’s monologue the best opening scene in movie history?