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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Opening Shots: 'Deep Red'

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The kind of thing that can ruin a childhood.

From Robert Daniel, Birmingham, AL:

"Deep Red" (Dario Argento, 1975): The scene opens a floor-level shot. We hear a stabbing sound and a loud scream. The knife falls in from the left and the child's feet rush in from the right. Then the screen goes black for the credits. I guess I counted this as an opening shot because the camera does not move, nor is there ever a cut. It is one short, continuous take.

The whole giallo is based on this event. It is the murder of a parent in front of the child (whose legs we see). Most of the film happens 15 or so years later, with the child as an adult. The string of brutal and creative murder set-pieces all relate back to what happened in this shot.

The shot is made more effective by the fact that a very eerie child's nursery rhyme is playing in the background. Rumor has it that the nursery rhyme music was played before in an episode of "Davey and Goliath"!

JE: Thanks, Robert -- and thanks for sending in the frame grab, too. I can't believe I haven't seen this major Argento (one of those embarrassing gaps for me), but it's been in my Netflix queue for a long time. I'm gonna have to bump it up to the top now.

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