In Defense of Prologues: Jordan Peele's 'Get Out' and 'Us'

Updated on April 29, 2019

I saw Jordan Peele’s second film Us recently, and it blew me away. I basically loved everything about it. The superb double performances from its actors. The mind-bending and surprising story. The photography. The terror. The near-constant suspense. That haunting music. It got a little bit silly in the last twenty minutes or so, but for the most part, this movie was totally my jam.

And one thing I absolutely loved about it? The part that made me get comfortable in my chair knowing I was in the hands of a master filmmaker who knew exactly what he was doing?

The prologue!

The opening sequence of Us, which takes place in 1986, is a masterclass in tension.

After a brief glimpse at a television screen that tells us the year, we cut to a young girl and her two parents walking through an amusement park at night. It seems harmless, that is until the mother leaves to use the restroom, and her daughter wanders off by herself, seemingly pulled to something down by the beach.

Nothing moves quickly here. The camera slowly follows the girl as she passes other people, walks down a staircase, wanders around a beach, and then steps into a house of mirrors. You sit there minute after minute in the theater waiting for something terrible to happen, because you know something terrible is going to happen. This is a horror film, after all.

Finally, at the end of this nail-biting sequence, the little girl turns around in the house of mirrors and sees the back of a girl who looks exactly like her.

And then director Jordan Peele cuts to the girl’s face, as she opens her mouth, a scream about to unleashed.

Cut to the opening credits.

Us’s Prologue Truly is a Thing of Beauty

At this point not only are you, the viewer, completely in tune with the visual and auditory aesthetics this film will deliver over the next two hours but you also have an introduction to a major character that is going to pay endless dividends later.

To miss this opening prologue, or to cut it from the film entirely, would rob Us of its power.

To just start with the modern-day story and then maybe have a flashback to this sequence later in the movie wouldn’t be as satisfying.

Because a great prologue like this one has the ability to draw you into a world while at the same time only hinting at things that are to come. A great prologue can entice the reader or the viewer, and you know what? Sometimes that’s not only welcome, but necessary.

Another great film prologue takes place in Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning debut from 2017 — Get Out.

I still think about the ingenious way Get Out begins.

Instead of focusing on the main characters of the story, Peele’s roaming camera follows around an African-American man who’s lost his way in a mostly white suburban neighborhood, only to be suddenly followed by a driver who makes a u-turn, pulls up next to him, gets out and cuts off his air supply, and then throws him into the back seat of his vehicle.

This scene tells you everything and nothing. It gives you, again, a hint of the premise, and the menace, to come. Could the film work without this scene? Some might argue it could.

But I still stay no.

This scene sets up the world of the story. It gives you in a brief couple minutes the tone, the mood, all the aesthetics to come. It tells you exactly what kind of film this is, and that director Jordan Peele, again, knows what he’s doing.

So whether you’re filmmaker or a writer, don’t be afraid of prologues.

Many suggest you remove your prologues. Some say to cut to the chase, get to your protagonist. Sometimes that is the case. Sometimes it’s better to start with your main character.

But sometimes prologues can be truly awesome, the way they are in both Us and Get Out.

I can’t imagine either of these two films without them.

Prologues shouldn’t always be used in stories. But they shouldn’t always be dismissed either.

Think about the story you’re trying to tell, and maybe give a prologue a try. You just never know the kind of power it might bring.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)