A History of the Title Sequence

Jurjen Versteeg's A History of the Title Sequence

Jurjen Versteeg's A History of the Title Sequence

Sometimes, my favorite part of a movie is the title sequence. In this instance we have a very clever title sequence for a movie that doesn’t really exist: a documentary about the history of the title sequence. Directed and edited by Jurjen Versteeg, A History of the Title Sequence pays homage to the influential designers that have changed how important the titles are, and how they can contribute to developing a story. From an interview with Versteeg:

“It seems like the film industry needed fifty years to realise the importance and effect of a good title sequence. The fact that the curtains in most cinemas were closed during the title sequence, signifies how much of an underestimated medium it was. Then you start to realize the impact that designers such as Saul Bass have had. Seeing his work in this context made me appreciate his titles even more.”

It seems bizarre to me that titles used to play behind closed curtains, because it snubs more than just the early illustrators who lettered the titles, it ignores everyone in those titles that actually made the movie possible. Ok, a lot of those folks are in the closing credits nowadays, but the title sequence has really become integral in some instances; setting the scene, the mood or the tone for what we’re about to see. I don’t always remember bad ones, but the good ones certainly stand out.

Alex

5 Comments A History of the Title Sequence

  1. Tanner July 28, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    Some titles stick out vividly in my memory, even years after seeing them. The opening sequences for Catch Me if You Can, for example. Or The Royal Tenenbaums.

    It would be interesting to see all of the title sequences that people love and get a feeling for what could be the top ones.

  2. Chris July 28, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    To kill a mockingbird – Doctor Strangelove – Thank you for smoking..

    The first 2 of those still make me gasp every time.

  3. Alex DentAlex Dent July 28, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    I actually was thinking of Catch Me if You Can and To Kill a Mockingbird while I was writing this post. Another one of my favorites is the opening of Sunset Boulevard. There are other great ones, but I’m kind of drawing a blank.

  4. yachris July 28, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    Blood Simple.

    Oh, and as an official Old Fart(TM), I have to point out that “titles used to play behind closed curtains” isn’t quite accurate. Actually, they were projected on the curtains as they opened. So you could have some fun reading the dim/distorted letters as the curtain opened/went up.

  5. Chris July 29, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    Ironically nowadays I think that some of the most innovative artwork (and scores) are in the closing sequences of films when people are pushing out the doors. e.g. Series of Unfortunate Events.

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