This Supercut of First and Final Frames Reveals Entire Cinematic Storylines in Seconds

A beautiful, eye-opening cinematic cheat sheet.

This Supercut of First and Final Frames Reveals Entire Cinematic Storylines in Seconds

You can learn a lot about a feature-length film in just two shots: the first and final frames. Filmmaker Jacob T. Swinney has compiled a five-minute montage of 55 films, showcasing only these beginnings and endings.


He’s packed the list with serious dramas, from There Will Be Blood to Taxi Driver to The Godfather II. In these briefest of moments, it’s often clear whether the heroes succeeded or failed, or whether nothing much has changed over the course of two hours. Take Gone Girl, in which the opening and closing shots are nearly identical. Or Birdman, which juxtaposes a fireball crashing to earth in the first shot with an awe-struck Emma Stone looking toward the heavens in the final one. You can glean so much about a film from the first and final frames that sitting through the whole thing might seem unnecessary. But the movie-watching experience isn’t about summing things up; it’s about the journey–one that Swinney’s supercut should inspire you to take.

Films used (in order of appearance):
The Tree of Life 00:00
The Master 00:09
Brokeback Mountain 00:15
No Country for Old Men 00:23
Her 00:27
Blue Valentine 00:30
Birdman 00:34
Black Swan 00:41
Gone Girl 00:47
Kill Bill Vol. 2 00:53
Punch-Drunk Love 00:59
Silver Linings Playbook 01:06
Taxi Driver 01:11
Shutter Island 01:20
Children of Men 01:27
We Need to Talk About Kevin 01:33
Funny Games (2007) 01:41
Fight Club 01:47
12 Years a Slave 01:54
There Will Be Blood 01:59
The Godfather Part II 02:05
Shame 02:10
Never Let Me Go 02:17
The Road 02:21
Hunger 02:27
Raging Bull 02:31
Cabaret 02:36
Before Sunrise 02:42
Nebraska 02:47
Frank 02:54
Cast Away 03:01
Somewhere 03:06
Melancholia 03:11
Morvern Callar 03:18
Take This Waltz 03:21
Buried 03:25
Lord of War 03:32
Cape Fear 03:38
12 Monkeys 03:45
The World According to Garp 03:50
Saving Private Ryan 03:57
Poetry 04:02
Solaris (1972) 04:05
Dr. Strangelove 04:11
The Astronaut Farmer 04:16
The Piano 04:21
Inception 04:26
Boyhood 04:31
Whiplash 04:37
Cloud Atlas 04:43
Under the Skin 04:47
2001: A Space Odyssey 04:51
Gravity 04:57
The Searchers 05:03
The Usual Suspects 05:23


About the author

Jennifer Miller is the author of The Year of the Gadfly (Harcourt, 2012) and Inheriting The Holy Land (Ballantine, 2005). She's a regular contributor to Co.Create.