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EN SCÈNE

The Art of the Title


EN SCÈNE

The Art of the Title


mise en scène (mee zahn sen) French.

1. Any and all design elements that make up the visual theme for a theatre or film production. 11. The phsyical setting of an action; as of a narrative or a motion picture.


EN SCÈNE en scÈn e: the a rt of the title

is an interactive

Film titles can be great fun. In them we see the bond

experience through the vast history of film title

between the art of filmmaking and graphic design

sequences. Walk through the decades and view the

— and perhaps visual culture as a whole. They have

very best in film making from the 1900s until today.

always served a greater purpose than themselves:

Leaders in the art of title sequences are highlighted

to move the overarching story forward. Whether you

throughout the progression of not only film making,

are a motion graphic designer, a digital artist or a

but also graphic design, typography, fashion, and

connoisseur of design, we hope you are inspired by

other social trends. This spatial timeline moves

these film titles and the ideas they suggest to your

through the rich narrative of title sequences and

own creative endeavors.

exposes the evolution of more than a century’s films.


ta b l e o f c o n t e n t s

Early 1900s

1902

1910

1914

1916

1918

1920

A T RIP T O T HE MOON

F R A NK ENS T EIN

CINDEREL L A

IN T OL ER A NCE

j . searle dawley

james kirkwood

d . w . griffith

T HE E Y E S OF T HE MUMM Y

T HE C A BINE T OF DR . C A L IG A RI

georges m é li è s

ernst lubitsch

robert wiene

04

06

08

10

12

14

1924

1927

1931

1933

1937

1946

PE T ER PA N

ME T ROP OL IS

M

herbert brenan

fritz lang

fritz lang

T HE IN V ISIBL E MAN

M A K E WAY F OR T OMORROW

T HE L A DY IN T HE L A K E

leo mccarey

montgomery

26

28

1920s – 1940s

james whale

18

20

22

24

robert


1950s – 1980s

1955

1959

1962

1963

1964

1979

T HE M A N W I T H T HE GOL DEN A RM

NOR T H BY NOR T H W E S T

T O K IL L A MOC K INGBIRD

CH A R A DE

GOL DF INGER

A L IEN

kyle cooper

kyle cooper

kyle cooper

saul bass

kyle cooper

david fincher

david fincher

david fincher

david fincher

kyle cooper

david fincher

david fincher

32

34

36

40

42

44 1990s – Today

1995

1999

2006

2009

2009

2011

SE 7EN

F IGH T CL UB

kyle cooper

david w . prescott

david fincher

david fincher

C A SINO ROYA L E

EN T ER T HE VOID

UP IN T HE A IR

daniel kleinman

tom kan

gareth smith

martin campbell

gasper no é

jenny lee

T HE GIRL W I T H T HE DR AGON TAT T OO

jason reitman

48

52

54

56

58

&

neil kellerhouse david fincher

60


“

It makes you thrilled to be in this theatre at this moment, getting ready to see this movie. It makes you glad that you are nowhere else in the world except where you are, getting ready to see something amazing. —

k yle cooper


02

e a r ly

19 0 0 s


Early

1900s

si nce the i n v ention

of the cinematograph, simple

title cards were used to top and tail silent film presentations in order to identify both the film and the production company involved, and to act as a signal that the film had started and then finished. In silent cinema title cards were used throughout to convey dialogue and plot and it is in some of these early short films that we see the first examples of title sequences themselves, being quite literally a series of title cards shown at the beginning of a film. The arrival of sound did little to alter the convention except that the sequence was usually accompanied by a musical prelude.

e a r ly

19 0 0 s

03


For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake. — a l fr ed hitchcock

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

a trip to the moon

unknown

DIREC T OR

george m é li è s

1902

by alex ander ulloa

Like many of Méliès’s films, A Trip to the Moon

Some have claimed that the film was one of the earliest examples

was sold in both black-and-white and hand-colored

of pataphysical film, while stating that the film aims to “show the

versions. A hand-colored print, the only one known to

director, Georges Méliès, aimed in the film to “invert the hierarchal

survive, was rediscovered in 1993 by the Filmoteca

values of modern French society and hold them up to ridicule in a riot

de Catalunya. It was in a state of almost total

of the carnivalesque”. This is seen as an inherent part of the film’s

decomposition, but a frame-by-frame restoration was launched in 1999 and completed in 2010.

04

illogicality of logical thinking”. Others still have remarked that the

a trip to the moon

plot: the story pokes fun at the scientists and at science in general, in that upon traveling to the Moon, the astronomers find that the face of the Moon is, in fact, the face of a man.


You can plan for everything and say we’re going to do something that looks effortless, but that’s not really realistic — it takes on a life of its own. — k y l e cooper

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

frankenstein

unknown

j searle dawley

1910

b y b e n r a d at z

Frankenstein (1910) is the first known film version of Mary

Strangely, for those of us familiar with the Universal Frankenstein

Shelley’s novel. The film was produced by Thomas Edison’s

(1931), Frankenstein’s monster is constituted through chemicals

company and directed by J. Searle Dawley. Very soon

in a large cauldron in a sequence that employs puppetry of a skeleton, is limber of movement, and speaks fluently to his

after its release, the film was deemed sacrilegious for its

creator. The performance of Augustus Phillips (Frankenstein)

macabre content — tame by today’s standards, shocking

is deeply couched in Victorian stage traditions, all posing and

in 1910. Consequently, the film was not shown in many theaters and fewer prints than usual were struck for sale.

sweeping gestures. Charles Ogle, however, does a good job of bringing the monster to life in a fright wig, extended fingers, and slapstick shoes.

frankenstein

07


The cinema, like the detective story, enables us to experience without danger to ourselves all the excitements, passions, and fantasies which have to be repressed in a humanistic age. — c a r l jung

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

cinderella

unknown

james kirkwood

1914

b y j u l i e n va l l e e

Cinderella is a 1914 silent film starring Mary Pickford,

Cinderella is a winsome young girl who lives with her wicked

directed by James Kirkwood, Sr., produced by

stepmother and ugly stepsisters. They abuse her and use

Daniel Frohman, and released by Famous Players

cinderell a

the world, but doesn’t know a fairy godmother is constantly

Film Company, later known as Paramount Pictures.

helping her. One day, she is collecting wood from the forest

The film is based upon the famous fairy tale with

and meets Prince Charming. They immediately fall in love with

the same name. The film was released on DVD as

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her as the house maid. Cinderella thinks she’s all alone in

each other, but lose contact. Soon, a ball is arranged by the prince to look for his future wife. The stepsisters think they

a bonus feature from the DVD of Through the Back

make a great chance in being chosen by the prince. Cinderella

Door (1921).

wants to go as well, but isn’t allowed to by her cruel family.


F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

intolerance

unknown

by tom keller

Director D.W. Griffith’s expensive, most ambitious

DIREC T OR

d . w . griffith

1916

Cinematography is writing with images in movement and with sounds. — robert bresson

silent film masterpiece Intolerance (1916) is one of the milestones and landmarks in cinematic history. Many reviewers and film historians consider it the greatest film of the silent era. The mammoth film was also subtitled: “A Sun-Play of the Ages” and “Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages.” The film was the most expensive film of its time, costing about two million dollars (a third of which was used for the Babylonian segments), but it was commercially unsuccessful in the US, partially due to the financial burden of having full orchestration accompany the film. Its complex, sometimes baffling, unwieldy construction and its pacifist themes may have contributed to its unpopular reception just prior to the US entrance into World War I. Using cinematic methods ahead of their time and influencing a whole generation of future film-makers, he included a crane shot and spectacular crowd scenes and exterior sets (and live elephants!) for the fantastic Babylonian sequence. The innovative finale is an overwhelming, rhythmic, conglomerate sequence which weaves all four stories into a stirring, fastmoving and exciting climax - as the suspenseful drama begins to conclude, the cross-cutting increases in tempo and rapidity with shorter and shorter segments of each tale flowing together. intolerance

11


F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

the eyes of the mummy

unknown

ernst lubitsch

by lol a l andekic

1918

The exotic setting and outsized melodramatics of The Eyes of the Mummy apparently

resonated with German audiences, who were devastated by the effects of World War I. In

There are a thousand ways to point a camera, but really only one. — er nst lubi tsch

little over a month after the film’s October 3, 1918 premiere, revolution broke out on the streets of Berlin; Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated and a Republican government was established. Son of a well-to-do Jewish tailor in Berlin, Lubitsch displayed an early aptitude for the theater, becoming an apprentice to the prestigious company of Max Reinhardt in 1911. He made his first appearances as a film actor in 1913, mainly in comic roles such as the clothiers apprentice Moritz Abramowsky in The Firm Marries (1914). Around the same time he started directing his own films, including the smash hit Shoe Salon Pinkus (1916), in which he also starred as the lustful shoe clerk. the eyes of the mummy

13


Typeface has got to be a character through the narrative. It should really carry a part of the story. — nic benns

F IL M T I T L E

the cabinet of dr . caligari

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

unknown

robert weine

1919

b y b e n r a d at z

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a German silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the most influential of German Expressionist films and is often considered one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era. The film used stylized sets, with abstract, jagged buildings painted on canvas backdrops and flats. Pommer put Caligari in the hands of designer Hermann Warm and painters Walter Reimann and Walter Röhrig, whom he had met as a soldier while painting sets for a German military theater. When Pommer began to have second thoughts about how the film should be designed, they had to convince him that it made sense to paint lights and shadows directly on set walls, floors, background canvases and to place flat sets behind the actors.

14

the cabinet of dr. caligari


16

19 2 0 — 19 4 0 s


1920– 1940s

du r i ng the tw en ties

and thirties different kinds of

films were produced for different audiences. While some people pushed for films that depicted utopias and perfection, others wanted to see reality and current events discussed in films. It is through this that film makers began to express their opinions on current issues and offered different ideas to their audiences. Starting with the post World War I era, throught the Great Depression and with a short look at gangsterdom, it is easy to understand that film makers drew their inspiration from real life and the events going on around them.

19 2 0 — 19 4 0 s

17


F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

peter pan

unknown

herbert brenon

by lol a l andekic

The film closely follows the plot of the original play, and even goes so far as to incorporate much of its original stage dialogue in the intertitles. Added scenes include Nana the dog pouring out Michael’s medicine and giving him a bath, and Nana bursting into the home at which a party is being given, to warn Mr. and Mrs. Darling that Peter Pan and the Darling children are flying around the nursery.

1924

There’s no symbolic or conventional filter between me and reality as there is in literature. The cinema is an explosion of my love for reality. — pier paolo pa sol ini

Like the original play and several other versions, and unlike the 1953 Disney film, the 1924 version makes it clear that Wendy harbors a romantic attachment to Peter, but Peter, to Wendy’s annoyance, only thinks of her as his mother.

p e t er pa n

19


I should say that I was a visual person. I experience with my eyes and never, or rarely, with my ears... to my constant regret. — fr itz l a ng

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

metropolis

unknown

fritz lang

1927

b y b e n r a d at z

One of the biggest film events of the century, a “Holy

Since then, an expert team of highly respected film archivists

Grail” among film finds, Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi epic can

has been working at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung in

finally be seen – for the first time in 83 years – as the

Germany to painstakingly reconstruct and restore Lang’s film. The results, as premiered at the prestigious Berlin International

director originally intended and as seen by German cinema-

Film Festival in February 2010, are spectacular.

goers in 1927. Shortly after that 1927 release, an entire

Late in his life, Lang responded to a question on Metropolis by

quarter of Lang’s original version was cut by Paramount for the US release, and by Ufa in Germany, an act of butchery

asking his own question, “Why are you so interested in a picture which no longer exists?” Finally, reconstructed and restored, the director’s film “exists” once more.

very much against the director’s wishes.

metropolis

21


I made my films with a kind of sleepwalking security, I did things which I thought were right. Period. — fr itz l a ng

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

m

unknown

fritz lang

1931

by alex ander ulloa

M is supposedly based on the real-life case of serial

In 1930 when Lang placed an ad in the newspaper stating that his

killer Peter Kürten, the “Vampire of Düsseldorf”,

next film would be Mörder unter Uns (The Murderer is among Us)

whose crimes took place in the 1920s, although Lang

shoot the film at Stakken studio. When Lang confronted the head of

decided to use the subject matter of M there were

Stakken studio to find out why he was being denied access to the

Grossmann, Kürten, Denke,” Lang told film historian Gero Gandert in a 1963 interview.

m

threatening letters in the mail. He was also denied a studio space to

denied that he drew from this case. “At the time I many serial killers terrorizing Germany — Haarmann,

22

and was about a child murderer, he immediately began receiving

studio, the studio head informed Lang that he was a member of the Nazi party and that the party suspected that the film was meant to depict the Nazis.


F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

the invisible man

saul bass

james whale

by tom keller

The Invisible Man is a 1933 science fiction film based

1933

A director must be pretty bad if he can’t get a thrill out of war, murder, robbery. — james whale

on H. G. Wells’ science fiction novel The Invisible Man, published in 1897, as adapted by R. C. Sherriff, Philip Wylie and Preston Sturges, whose work was considered unsatisfactory and who was taken off the project.[1] The film was directed by James Whale and stars Claude Rains, in his first American screen appearance, and Gloria Stuart. Rains portrayed the Invisible Man (Dr. Jack Griffin) mostly only as a disembodied voice. Rains is only shown clearly for a brief time at the end of the film, spending most of his on-screen time covered by bandages. In 2008 The Invisible Man was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Rains’ portrayal of The Invisible Man is considered to be one of the main Universal Monsters and is often listed with the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Mummy and Gill-man.

the invisible man

24


Typeface has got to be a character through the narrative. It should really carry a part of the story. — nic benns

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

make way for tomorrow

unknown

leo mccarey

1937

b y b e n r a d at z

This is a nearly-forgotten American film made in the Depression. It tells the story my mother imagined for herself. A couple has lived happily together for 50 years. They lose their home to a bank. Their five grown children are sincerely sorry to hear this, but what can they do with them? One has moved to California and is rarely heard from. The others live closer, but don’t have the space to take in two people. The great final arc of “Make Way for Tomorrow” is beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s easy to imagine it being sentimentalized by a studio executive, being made more upbeat for the audience. That’s not McCarey. Everything depends on the performances. Beulah Bondi was not yet 50 when she played Lucy (with makeup by Wally Westmore) and Victor Moore was 61. In appearance, movement and performance, they are very convincingly old. In the film they’re around 70. That was thought a much older age in 1937 than it seems today. 25

m a k e w ay f o r t o m o r r o w


The opening title sequence of this 1959 crime drama is a classic piece of graphic design — giving the movie a strong, timeless indentity that still inspires filmmakers to this day. — jul ien va l l ee

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

lady in the lake

unknown

robert montgomery

1947

b y j u l i e n va l l e e

Lady in the Lake is a 1947 American film noir that

Tired of the low pay of his profession, hard-boiled private

marked the directorial debut of Robert Montgomery,

detective Phillip Marlowe (Montgomery) submits a murder story

who also stars in the film. The picture also features

Eve, publishing executive Adrienne Fromsett (Totter) hires him to

and Jayne Meadows. The murder mystery was an

locate the wife of her boss, Derace Kingsby (Ames). One month

Lady in the Lake.

l ady in the l ak e

his work, but soon realizes it is merely a ploy. On Christmas

Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan, Tom Tully, Leon Ames adaptation of the 1944 Raymond Chandler novel The

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to Kingsby Publications. He is invited to the premises to discuss

earlier, Chrystal Kingsby had sent her husband a telegram saying she was heading to Mexico to divorce him and marry a man named Chris Lavery (Dick Simmons).


29

19 5 0 — 19 8 0 s


1950– 1980s

the stu dio system

in Hollywood declined, because

many films were now being made on location in other countries, or using studio facilities abroad, such as Pinewood in the UK and Cinecittà in Rome. “Hollywood” films were still largely aimed at family audiences, and it was often the more oldfashioned films that produced the studios’ biggest successes. The growth in independent producers and production companies, and the increase in the power of individual actors also contributed to the decline of traditional Hollywood studio production. Further, the nuclear paranoia of the age, and the threat of an apocalyptic nuclear exchange (like the 1962 close-call with the USSR during the Cuban missile crisis) prompted a reaction within the film community as well.

19 5 0 — 19 8 0 s

30


F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

the man with the golden arm

saul bass

otto preminger

by tom keller

The movie opens with one of the most famous, influential and controversial title sequences in movie history, the animated paper cut-out of a heroin addict’s arm, designed and conceived by Saul Bass as a means of creating much more than a mere title sequence, but something that actually enhances the viewer’s experience by contributing to a mood built within the opening moments of a film.

1955

Bass fashioned title sequences into an art, creating in some cases, a mini-film within a film. His graphic compositions in movement function as a prologue to the movie. — martin scorsese

Similarly, the film’s jazz soundtrack (played by Shorty Rogers and His Giants with Shelly Manne) was a landmark in film history; it followed on somewhat from the score provided by Alex North for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). The famous theme music was written by Elmer Bernstein. Jet Harris released the theme as single in 1963, Sweet covered the theme song on the UK version of their album Desolation Boulevard, and Barry Adamson released a cover version on his 1988 album Moss Side Story.

vertigo

32


My initial thoughts about what a title can do was to set mood and the prime underlying core of the film’s story, to express the story in some metaphorical way. I saw the title as a way of conditioning the audience, so that when the film actually began, viewers would already have an emotional resonance with it. — saul ba ss

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

north by northwest

saul bass

alfred hitchcock

1959

b y b e n r a d at z

Perhaps the best way to frame Hitchcock’s 1959 thriller

It is appropriate, then, that Saul Bass establishes this theme in both

North by Northwest is to examine the least conspicuous

the tone and design of the main title sequence — his second Hitchcock

word in its title: by. In the context of the film, ‘by’

outing, following Vertigo the previous year. Almost immediately, the open canvas of forest green is jailed by a series of intersecting lines, setting the

represents a crossroads — a point of intersection between

ground rules for the sequence by corralling the sans serif title blocks into

two paths that would otherwise never meet. Intersections

vertical columns, rising and falling as though tethered to one another. The

are further explored in the transient locations Hitchcock

sequence is split into three distinct tiers — the first being entirely graphic, with the titles superimposed over the gridded background. In the second,

chose to shoot: downtown cross streets, trains, airports —

the graphics dissolve into the reflective façade of the C.I.T. Building in

even the infamous crop-dusting scene, which takes place

Manhattan — the location of Thornhill’s agency — perfectly mimicking its

quite literally at a crossroads.

orthographic window framework. The third tier brings us down to ground level, observing the anonymous masses navigating the Big Apple.

north by northwest

34


F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

to kill a mockingbird

stephen frankfurt

robert mulligan

by alex ander ulloa

In the first seconds of this dawning glory, Elmer Bernstein’s notes softly dot and fade. A child, our beloved Scout, hums lullabylike. At the heart of the masterpiece, a cigar

1962

The most important thing is to think with your heart, not with your head. Be heavily emotional versus practical. — st ephen fr a nk f urt

box. At the heart of the box, Gregory Peck. A silent pocket watch ticks in remembrance. Scout lifts a crayon and sets in motion the quiet, unintentional roll of a marble and the wonderment of the examined life found in every moment, of every life. Stephen Frankfurt’s opening title sequence for To Kill A Mockingbird forces one to slow down, to note the window reflected in the marbles. We get the sense that this lolling calm happens just off screen while, on the other side of that window, Atticus — the very embodiment of security — sways thoughtfully on the porch swing. to kill a mockingbird

36


37

to kill a mockingbird


to kill a mockingbird

38


An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before?” — fr a ncis for d coppol a

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

charade

maurice binder

stanley donen

1963

by alex ander ulloa

When screenwriters Peter Stone and Marc Behm submitted their script The Unsuspecting Wife around Hollywood, they were unable to sell it. Stone then turned it into a novel, retitled Charade, which found a publisher and was also serialized in Redbook magazine, as many novels were at the time.

39

charade

When the film was released at Christmas, 1963, Audrey Hepburn’s line, “at any moment we could be assassinated,” was dubbed over to become “at any moment we could be eliminated” due to the recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The dubbed word stood out quite clearly and all official video releases of the film have since restored the original dialogue, though some public domain videos taken from original release prints still carry the redubbed line.


Unlike all the other art forms, film is able to seize and render the passage of time, to stop it, almost to possess it in infinity. I’d say that film is the sculpting of time. — a ndr ei ta r kovsk y

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

goldfinger

robert brownjohn

guy hamilton

1964

by juliet kinchin

As memorable as the film itself, the title sequence of

Brownjohn’s short but influential career

Goldfinger (1964) captures the sexual suggestiveness

integrated the fields of design, advertising,

and wry humor of the James Bond mythos. Scenes

goldfinger

in 1960 to London, where he was at the

from the film are projected strategically onto starlet

epicenter of the burgeoning “swinging ‘60s”

Margaret Nolan, while minimal credit texts balance

scene. Brownjohn deployed type in dynamic,

each shot. It was designer and art director Robert

41

film, photography and music. He moved

abstract forms, in this case illustrating both his mastery of modern graphic design and

Brownjohn (American, 1926–1970) who conceived,

his ability to apply sophisticated graphic

designed, and directed this sequence.

treatment to popular media.


I knew exactly what to do on Alien, it was funny. — r idl e y scot t

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

alien

richard greenberg

ridley scott

1979

b y b e n r a d at z

Crossing over an eclipsing planet with the title appearing in non-linear, segmented letters. From the outer letters inwards (even the middle swath of the letter “E” is last to appear), everything points to the center. That is where the parasitic pupae come from — the middle of you. Steady, dark tension. Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The film’s title refers to its primary antagonist: a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature that stalks and kills the crew of a spaceship. Dan O’Bannon wrote the screenplay from a story by him and Ronald Shusett, drawing influence from previous works of science fiction and horror. The film was produced through Brandywine Productions and distributed by 20th Century Fox, with producers David Giler and Walter Hill making significant revisions and additions to the script.

43

alien


45

19 9 0 — T O D AY


1990– Today

t h e e a r ly

1900 s saw the development of a

commercially successful independent cinema in the United States. Although cinema was increasingly dominated by special-effects films such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Jurassic Park (1993) and Titanic (1997), independent films like Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989) and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992) had significant commercial success both at the cinema and on home video. Filmmakers associated with the Danish filmmovement Dogme 95 introduced a manifesto aimed to purify filmmaking.

19 9 0 — T O D AY

46


You can plan for everything and say we’re going to do something that looks effortless, but that’s not really realistic — it takes on a life of its own. — k y l e cooper

F IL M T I T L E se 7 en

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

kyle cooper

david fincher

1995

b y b e n r a d at z

Directed in 1995, David Fincher’s Se7en is a film that defies easy categorization. Perhaps too dark to qualify as a golden classic despite having all the right ingredients, neither is it a cult film in the traditional sense, as it is stocked with A-list talent and propped up by a smart script, a memorable score and rich cinematography, and a production value in lockstep with Fincher’s own vision for the film.

Directed by Kyle Cooper while at the newly-formed Los Angeles arm of titling giant R/Greenberg Associates, it’s a short story told in fragments and vignettes, following the hands of an unknown man — presumably the antagonist, John Doe — as he makes entries in his diary alongside clippings from books, selfdeveloped photographs, and found images and objects, giving the audience an intimate look into the mind of a serial killer obsessed with religion and, more to the point, attrition.

s e7en

48


49

s e7en


s e7en

50


Everything seems really simple on paper until you take a camera out of the box. — dav id fincher

F IL M T I T L E fight club

T I T L E DE SIGNER david w . prescott

DIREC T OR david fincher

1999

b y b e n r a d at z

We follow a path outwards from the fear center

The opening title sequence was supposed to be starting inside the

of our protagonist’s brain, moving through various

fear center of Edward Norton’s brain. The electricity is like photo

cerebral micro-landscapes and exiting a skin pore,

fight club

to be impulses, fear-based impulses. We are changing scale the

ending between the sights of a Smith and Wesson

whole time so we’re starting at the size of a dendrite [and] we are

pointed into his mouth. This immediate relationship

pulling back through the frontal lobes, going through this black

between cause and effect, where the source of

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electrical stimuli that is running through his brain. These are supposed

section where there are particles; we’ve left the brain and are going through the skull casing. This is inside the skull where Arnon’s name

fear is linked directly to the chemistry behind that

appears, inside bone where apparently there is some fluid in, which I

emotion, establishes that the violence is not trivial.

did not know. And then we pull out through this clogged pore.


F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

casino royale

daniel kleinman

martin campbell

by devin z ydel

2006

Director Martin Campbell commented on a possible card motif for the sequence and Kleinman ‘took that and ran with it as far as possible. One starting point was Ian Fleming’s own design for the first edition of Casino Royale, which used the hearts from a playing card. I also remember that a puff of gun smoke stylised into the form of a club symbol came to me early, and I sketched that.’

I wanted to simplify the look, give it a harder feel than the hi-tech ultra-glam with which the titles have become identified, Graphic design seemed a good way to go in this direction. — da niel k l einm a n

Working alongside Kleinman was William Bartlett, head of inferno at Framestore CFC Commercials, who said: ‘The previous film, Die Another Day, was almost the apotheosis of the old style. We’d taken it pretty much as far as it would go–the glossiness, the focus pulls, the fiery transitions–and I was delighted to be taking a new approach. Danny took the essences of the casino world–playing cards, roulette wheels, and the patterns on money itself–as his lead design elements.’ c a s i n o r o ya l e

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Its crescendo rhythm leads you to a euphoric ascension. You feel the visual and auditory onslaught. You don’t need to read, you just experience the typefaces, the names and the music. I find it to be a successful contrast to the really calm first scene. — g a sper no é

F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

enter the void

tom kan

DIREC T OR gasper no é

2009

b y b e n r a d at z

Like sighs from a scythe in a wheat field of psychosis, the opening title sequence for Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void is a melting onslaught of typographic design foisted upon the senses. This unrelenting visual overdose hacks pleasurably at the viewer, as the tip of a nail does finding its destiny. Names become bright little deaths fired to a machine gun beat; the images encircle your pupils as LFO’s “Freak” drives the nail deeper. Gaspar already had an idea for it: he wanted a fast-paced compilation of typefaces, all very different, inspired by films, flyers, and neon signs to announce the tone of the film. It was a peculiar case because the title sequence was in French, English and Japanese… He is very sensitive when it comes to typography — he had already done some himself for movies and posters. He even collects film posters.

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enter the void


The sequence ultimately depicts the world as Ryan (George Clooney) sees it: distant, abstract, and detached. — g a r et h smi t h

F IL M T I T L E up in the air

T I T L E DE SIGNER gareth smith

&

jenny lee

DIREC T OR jason reitman

2009

by ian albenson

A title sequence that incorporated aerial footage was our first thought. We assembled a gallery of interesting aerial photography that had an abstract quality and sent it off to Jason. We looked at the artwork and photography of Andy Goldsworthy, Ed Ruscha, and Alex MacLean during our research. Our initial thought was to do it by hand somehow — perhaps painting the aerial shots with a subdued color palette. We assumed that there would be NO WAY to actually shoot this footage, given the budget of the title sequence. Our jaws dropped when we saw a rough edit of some of the footage in the film. He was planning on using a number of these shots throughout the film for city title cards as well. It was an absolute gift and we were thrilled to have access to such spectacular footage.

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up in the air


F IL M T I T L E

T I T L E DE SIGNER

DIREC T OR

the girl with the dragon tattoo

neil kellerhouse

david fincher

by lol a l andekic

The beat sidles in: a throbbing arrhythmia peppered by desperate, howling vocals, and then that ooze. That viscid, black ooze that seeps into everything, penetrating crevices, dribbling into lips and eyes, suffocating and sensual and silent. Each ebony form is made osmotic — surging and melding, torn apart and punctured, ensnared, set ablaze — thrashing in the deep. Through flashes of embers and murk, sticky vines creep, hands grapple, foul petals unfurl, and sable fists inflict their fury.

2011

We used black ooze as a unifying element throughout the vignettes. Everyone’s had a bad dream where they are caught in some molasseslike substance and not able to move. It just fit. — t im mil l er

In this elegantly violent title sequence, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Karen O’s version of “Immigrant Song” swells when coupled with Blur Studio’s monstrous fantasy in David Fincher’s newest offering, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. t h e g i r l w i t h t h e d r a g o n tat t o o

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Š 2012 by Stephanie Schlim En Scene: The Art of the Title All Rights Reserved. Printed at Massachusetts College of Art & Design. Typeset in Mrs Eaves, Univers, and Bodoni. Perfect bound and printed double-sided on Staples cover stock paper.



Én Scene: The Art of the Title