Friday, June 29, 2007

Top 6 Friday: Opening Titles

Don’t underestimate the power of opening titles. In setting the mood, creating excitement, informing and in their own right as works of art they can play important parts in the whole experience of a movie. Every Bond movie is an event, the fade to the opening titles, the acts to sing the title song and the graphics may not be the first priority of the director but they are essential to decompressing after the opening sequence and the lead into the story and will take a place in movie lore as all Bond movies do, irrespective of their quality. So too there is the familiar black background, white text and jazzy music that lets you know the last line of text you will read before the film begins is ‘Written and Directed by Woody Allen’. I am a big fan of the production company logo becoming part of the titles, such as the Universal globe at the beginning of ‘Serenity’ or the Paramount Mountain at the beginning of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ becoming part of the movie. And of course there is the music, the Bond anthems, the Hitchcock shrill and strings, the great composers being given new life or stalwarts of musical theme creation such as Morricone or Newman. So much to appreciate within a few minutes. The criteria are simple, I don’t mean opening shots or sequences, the story can be moved along, but I am talking specifically about the time between the appearance of the production companies names and the name of the director appearing on screen.

I won’t be doing the blank screen Youtube thing, a link will have to do or the post would run on too long I think. And also in the case of 2 entries I couldn't find a decent clip, though I may amend it later after some scouring.

6. First off, is the least obvious choice but one of my favourites. There are probably more classic titles and better appreciated David Fincher opening titles (Se7en, Fight Club) but the titles for Panic Room just strike me as classic, domineering over the city skyline – they’re cool and that’s good enough for me. Link

5. Second, ‘The Pink Panther’, the credits inspired the TV cartoon series, which is in of itself has become a classic. Link.

4. A year ago I sat in the IMAX theatre in Auckland, New Zealand, sick with nerves I was so excited at the thought of seeing ‘Superman Returns’. This rip-roaring theme tune, journey through space is a movie classic, simple, yet powerful giving a true sense of the epic, evoking the respect for ‘Superman: The Movie’ that ‘Returns’ is steeped in and revitalizing the theme. Link.

3. The most recent original sequence to make the list - the gliding graphics and jazzy, cheeky theme for ‘Catch Me if You Can’ is a perfect set up for what is to come. ‘Catch Me if You Can’ is one of those movie’s you know has been storyboarded to within an inch of its life making every shot perfectly framed, each a rich piece of cinema and so too are these titles. Link.

2. Possibly every type of Best of list could somehow mention ‘Psycho’ and there is no denying the impact of the needly string music, with the simple graphics moving in sync with them. Link.

1. James Bond, Goldfinger, ‘nuff said.

7 comments:

Simon said...

what about Star Wars? Platoon? spiderman? trainspotting. loads better then panic room there

CK said...

I knew Panic Room would be controversial, I do like it a lot though so readers will just have to contend with my strange tastes. And yes the fanfare at the start of each Star Wars film is iconic but but any space set title sequence on my list is gona be Superman related!

John Cav said...

The Pink Panther - Spot on.

Psycho - Certainly.

Goldfinger - Excellent.

However, there can only be one number one in my opinion. Another Spielberg movie... JAWS! Nothing will ever top that opening.

Catch Me If You Can certainly possesses a fantastic title sequence. Indeed, the best in years. However it simply cannot compete with the shark... Spielberg's greatest legacy to cinema. The summer blockbuster was born.

All subjective I know, but I thought I would add my two cents.

CK said...

Yeah, easy it ain't to pick a comprehensive list, i was thinking of working on a series of lists, working my way through various elements of movies but its fine and tricky.

John Cav said...

That is man. That it is...

I mean, the intro to Citizen Kane? "Rosebud" would be way up there. Although I'm not sure you could classify it as an opening title sequence per se, that montage is genius nonetheless.

Tuathal said...

Panic Room and Superman Returns, although decent intros, have no business being near the Top 10 all time Opening Titles in the history of cinema, let alone the top 6.

CK said...

Yeah things like Once Upon A Time in the West, Touch of Evil and The Player I decided to class as opening sequences as opposed to opening titles, I often wonder what others do with the time I put into these distinctions!

Also Superman Returns and Superman: The Movie opening titles rock!