Writers often struggle to write the opening of their story, but looking at an example never hurts. Last time, we looked at 2016’s Emmy Nominee Mr. Robot. Today, we’re looking at Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. What techniques are used to engage the audience?
It says a lot that the opening alone was used to advertise the movie and got a lot of people hooked. Let’s see what makes it work.
The scene opens with two main motifs – Baby’s car and Baby’s music. These are important to the character and the plot.
As the music plays, Baby pulls his car up outside a bank. With him are three, much older, adults.
Edgar Wright has the advantage of movie magic and music to entice us into the scene, as all the action that follows is done to the beat of the music. There are a ton of video essays on this subject, but since I’m not a film critic or film maker, I’ll be looking at the writing only.
The minute Baby is left alone, he starts singing and dancing along to his music.
This is relatable. Come on, you’re lying if you say you haven’t done it at least once. But this makes us ponder: What is this goofy, fun guy doing with these crooks?
Is he, perhaps, in it for the thrill? Is there a darkness to his fun side?
But before we start thinking of Baby too harshly, there’s some commotion from inside the bank.
Gunshots go off and Baby flinches. He has compassion for the innocent people inside the bank and watches carefully to see if any of them are hurt. They aren’t – but we can tell from Baby’s expression that he isn’t happy with what’s going on. He judges the robbers for what they are doing.
We now know why Baby is here – he’s the getaway driver. A reluctant one, but one nonetheless. He needs to escape. We want him to escape.
Where does this lead? Boom. Car chase.
BUT it keeps the focus on the Baby, his expressions, and the expressions of the other characters in the car. It shows the character relationships.
Not to mention, we see Baby perform multiple impressive moves to get himself and the crooks out of trouble. It shows us how good Baby is at driving. This is important for the rest of the story.
Did I mention this was all done with no dialogue? Yeah.
Pretty good if you ask me.