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Guess these cult films by their first and last shots

A new project juxtaposes the first and last frame from classics such as Pulp Fiction and American Psycho

Do you even need to watch the entire movie, or could you get the gist simply by looking at the first and last frame? That’s a question Mico Toledo, 33, asked himself when he returned from a recent trip to Asia. His creative partner Juan Sevilla “peeked at the first and last picture on my desktop and kind of pieced the whole holiday together,” says Toledo. “By looking at the before and after pictures he guessed – quite accurately – the moments and story in-between.”

The two thought that perhaps the same could be accomplished with their favourite cult flicks. Placing the first and last frames side-by-side from a catalogue of films, Toledo and Sevilla are breaking down narratives and how they’re relayed to the audience with visual cues for their project, Begin/End. It’s revealing, he says, to discover which directors can truly tell a story in just a picture. So far, they’ve stockpiled frames from 80 films including Fantastic Mr Fox, Pulp Fiction and Wild at Heart for the ongoing experiment.

How many movies did you have to watch to get Begin/End off the ground?

Mico Toledo: We haven’t watched any movies specifically for this, but Juan and I watched all the movies on the project because we’re inherently obsessed with cinema. I’m from Brazil, from an Italian immigrant family, so I grew up watching dubious dubbed movies on the telly and Italian new wave cinema with my mother and sister. Juan is from Spain so he grew up used to amazing cinema and directors like García Berlanga, Buñuel and Colomo. So he’s very well schooled in cinema.

What have you noticed in the process?

Mico Toledo: The interesting process was more in rewatching beginning and end scenes of our favourite films and perceiving details, connections, metaphors and symmetries that we hadn’t noticed or given the proper attention before. The juxtaposition made us realise that sometimes most of the story is told within these two frames, either by contrast or similarity. Our mind then fills the gap, trying to find meaningful perceptions within them, almost like a gestalt of storytelling.

What first and last frames from films in particular stood out to you?

Mico Toledo: In movies like Control we begin by seeing the actor playing Ian Curtis in a creative spark that defines life and finish the movie by seeing his ashes being scattered by the wind. In other movies like Blue Velvet, the ultra-saturated, glossy flower lawn start and end the film, almost like trying to hide the psychological horrors and surrealist stories in between.

Which of the film stills is your favourite?

Mico Toledo: One of our favourite film grabs is Lost in Translation.

How come?

Mico Toledo: It’s so still, so quiet, so blue. Yet it says so much. There’s a clear duality but also complicity in this frame. It’s so rich in visual cues and metaphors. Male versus female. Warm versus cold. Sadness versus sadness. Loneliness versus loneliness. We love that, although the story progresses and the characters evolve, there’s a similar feel of melancholy in both frames. The story is resolved but it’s not. It’s an open ending that relates very well to the ‘lost’ of the beginning.

What do you hope to achieve with the project?

Mico Toledo: We would love to create an exhibition. So if any galleries are reading this right now, call us! In the process of grabbing these stills, we realised these diptychs are amazing pieces of art in themselves. And although most of the featured films are somehow successful and well-known, most people have never seen these frames pieced together at the same time, as this would never happen in a linear narrative. We thought this was an interesting way to analyse and somehow see these films through this static lens. Also our goal was just to take something from culture and use it in another way. Twist it somehow to another use. This is what the internet does best.

More cult frames can be found at beginend.co