A Spellbinding Supercut of the First & Final Frames of 70 Iconic Films, Played Side by Side

Film­mak­er Jacob T. Swin­ney’s First and Final Frames, Part II, above, is a rare sequel that upholds the qual­i­ty of the orig­i­nal.

As he did in its pre­de­ces­sor, Swin­ney screens the open­ing and clos­ing shots of dozens of recent and icon­ic films side by side, pro­vid­ing view­ers with a crash course in the edi­to­r­i­al eye.

What is being com­mu­ni­cat­ed when the clos­ing shot replicates—or inverts—the open­ing shot?

Will the open­ing shot become freight­ed with por­tent on a sec­ond view­ing, after one has seen how the film will end?

(Shake­speare would say yes.)

Swin­ney is deeply con­ver­sant in the non­ver­bal lan­guage of film, as evi­denced by his numer­ous com­pi­la­tions and video essays for Slate on such top­ics as the Kubrick Stare and the facial expres­sions of emo­tion­al­ly rev­e­la­to­ry moments.

Most of the films he choos­es for simul­ta­ne­ous cra­dle-and-grave-shot replay qual­i­fy as art, or seri­ous attempts there­at. You’d nev­er know from the for­mal­ism of its open­ing and clos­ing shots that Jim Jarmusch’s Mys­tery Train at the 1:00 mark is a com­e­dy.

To be fair, Clint Mansell’s uni­ver­sal­ly applied score could cloak even Ani­mal House in a veil of wist­ful, cin­e­mat­ic yearn­ing.

Giv­en the com­ic sen­si­bil­i­ty Swinney’s brought to such super­cuts as a Con­cise Video His­to­ry of Teens Climb­ing Through Each Oth­ers’ Win­dows  and a Tiny His­to­ry of Shrink­ing Humans in Movies, I’m hop­ing there will be a third install­ment where­in he con­sid­ers the first and final moments of come­dies.

Any you might rec­om­mend for inclu­sion? (Hold the Pink Flamin­gos, por favor…)

Films fea­tured in First and Final Frames, Part II in order of appear­ance:




21 Grams

The Pres­tige

All is Lost

Take Shel­ter

The Impos­si­ble

Unit­ed 93

Vanil­la Sky

Ex Machi­na

Inside Llewyn Davis

Dead Man

Mys­tery Train

Melvin and Howard


Full Met­al Jack­et

A Clock­work Orange

Eyes Wide Shut


The Ele­phant Man

The Fall

The Thin Red Line

The New World

Road to Perdi­tion

Snow Falling on Cedars

The Bourne Ulti­ma­tum

The Imi­ta­tion Game


Hard Eight

Inher­ent Vice

World War Z


The Dou­ble

The Machin­ist

Born on the Fourth of July

Brideshead Revis­it­ed

Maps to the Stars

The Skele­ton Twins


A Scan­ner Dark­ly

10 Years


Lost High­way

Box­car Bertha


Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samu­rai



Raise the Red Lantern



Bring­ing Out the Dead

A Most Want­ed Man

The Curi­ous Case of Ben­jamin But­ton

The Social Net­work

Jack Goes Boat­ing


Half Nel­son

Eter­nal Sun­shine of the Spot­less Mind


Djan­go Unchained

True Grit




Dawn of the Plan­et of the Apes


Mad Max: Fury Road

World’s Great­est Dad

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Mes­mer­iz­ing Super­cut of the First and Final Frames of 55 Movies, Played Side by Side

Watch 7 New Video Essays on Wes Anderson’s Films: Rush­more, The Roy­al Tenen­baums & More

How Aki­ra Kuro­sawa Used Move­ment to Tell His Sto­ries: A Video Essay

Dis­cov­er the Life & Work of Stan­ley Kubrick in a Sweep­ing Three-Hour Video Essay

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Her play, Fawn­book, is now play­ing at The Brick The­ater in New York City. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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