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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