In the opening credits of the film The Rock we see a flurry of images among the names of the star-studded cast of Nicholas cage, Sean Connery, and others. To the untrained viewer this may look like another Michael Bay montage of fiery dramatic imagery simply for the purpose of gearing up the viewer for the thrill ride that is The Rock. But this dramatic imagery does indeed have a purpose.
This purpose being to inform the viewer of General Francis X Hummel’s motivation for taking 81 unsuspecting tourists hostage on the uninhabited island of Alcatraz. As the credits begin we see a grey ominous sky followed by dark figures in a smoke filled room. These first two images present a gloomy yet tension filled mood and set the stage for a tale of regret and sorrow. Next we see marching soldiers folding a flag, indicating that a military man or men have died. One by one we receive bits of information that progressively increase in clarity. In the next frame our protagonist is seen vigorously standing up from a seated position while radio communication concerning the rescue of troops behind enemy lines becomes audible. This indicates the connection between the dead military men and general Hummel, as they were once his troops who are now in some kind of trouble but cannot receive any help due to commands superior to Hummel’s. In addition, General Hummel’s ascension from his seated position foreshadows Hummel’s decision to take a stand for the marines who gave their life during combat
Putting all the pieces together we know now that something unjust happened to military men against the will of General Hummel that resulted in their deaths and now General Hummel plans to take action. This intro gives us some abstract knowledge of the motivations for Hummel’s actions, without giving away too much information. This keeps the viewer buckled in for the ride that is The Rock.