“Whiplash” writer-director Damien Chazelle intended the film to begin with a scene where the protagonist, student Andrew Neiman, is playing the drums and his teacher Fletcher is vigorously practicing his technique – more or less what the following two bring hours. “The story itself is really about the drummer’s relationship with the teacher, so the first scene had to be like that,” Chazelle told University of California Television on YouTube. “It had to introduce the drummer and the teacher and tell you exactly what that relationship would be like. Then the rest of the movie can vary, you know, riff on that theme, but I like the idea of basically having a whole movie in the opening scene of the movie.”
Of course there are many layers to unpack in this dramatic sequence, but the film boils down to its essence in this opening moment. Audiences see a young drummer with an urge to improve and an older mentor with a knack for pushing those urges to the breaking point, with underlying themes of passion, approval and identity under every beat. In short, this is “Whiplash”.