The Art of Movie Title Sequences … and My Top Ten Favorites

Hello all, this is my last post for at least a week as I’m flying to London tomorrow night (God willing the volcanic ash doesn’t wreak havoc on our travel plans!). However, look for two special guest posts next week so please check back later.

I promised on my Rocknrolla post last Friday that I’ll be posting my top ten favorite movie sequences. But before we get to that, let me share a few great websites on movie titles. One in particular, watchthetitles.com, with the fitting tagline ‘Forget the film, watch the titles‘, has a nice way of saying what a great movie title is all about:

The very best title sequences not only succeed in putting the audience in the right mood for the movie, they transcend their proper function and venture off into the realm of something far deeper and far greater. They are the signifiers of contemporary pop culture and an art form in their own right.

The pioneer in this business is a graphic designer by the name of Saul Bass (view his bio courtesy of DesignMuseum), who’s collaborated with famous movie directors the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger and Martin Scorsese. His most famous work include the opening titles for Psycho, Vertigo, Spartacus, and in the 90s, he created the title design for four of Scorsese’s movies: Goodfellas, Cape Fear, The Age of Innocence and Casino.

Another cool resource for movie titles is artofthetitle.com, which features film and television title design from around the world. They also feature interviews with the designers themselves, such as Kyle Cooper, whose work I admire (a lot of them are in my top ten below). Oh and this site list their top ten James Bond opening sequences, I remember growing up watching those sexy opening montage with girls and guns, which are considered risqué where I came from that they actually censored the bare breast of the underwater dancing girl in For Your Eyes Only! As cool as those were back then, I’m sick of seeing those sexist visuals of girls dangling off of a gun, slithering/gyrating away, which is why the title sequence for Casino Royale is such a breath of fresh air!

I think movie titles, whether they appear at the beginning or the end of the movie, are part of the fun of watching movies, in a lot of cases, they’re better and far more entertaining than the movies themselves. With that said, I give you my top ten favorites (in random order):

1. Stranger than Fiction

..

2. The Age of Innocence


3. Casino Royale

..


4. 300



5. The Incredible Hulk

Courtesy of Artofthetitle.com

» View the video and read Kyle Cooper’s interview in artofthetitle.com

6. Up in the Air

Courtesy of Artofthetitle.com

» View the behind-the-scenes video on makingof.com site.

7. Sherlock Holmes



8. Thank You for Smoking
…v


9. Catch Me If You Can


….

10. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang


So your turn, folks. Please share some of your favorite title sequences!

Advertisements

24 thoughts on “The Art of Movie Title Sequences … and My Top Ten Favorites

  1. rockerdad

    OOH NICE. Here are 3 others I can think of:

    These two are charming:

    Juno:

    Napoleon Dynamite:

    And one of my all time faves – Trainspotting:

    Nice post again RTM and bon voyage!

    1. Great choices, rockerdad. I haven’t seen the movie but I always love the combination of real footage with illustrations, so LOVE the Juno one! I’ve got to check out Napoleon again as I couldn’t remember the opening sequence, though I like the movie.

      Can’t wait to start my vacation, more packing to do tonight! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Art of Movie Title Sequences … and My Top Ten Favorites « FlixChatter -- Topsy.com

  3. Mike B.

    I’m a Nine Inch Nails fan (or used to be as they’re officially an Old-School band). So the movie Se7en’s opening I remember vividly. Quite graphical. And of course, in it’s day, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly can’t be beat. Those title graphics lead to the TV show “The Wild, Wild, West’s” graphics I’m sure – not to mention many others of the time. Very influential. Until the Bond films took them to another level.

    Enjoy your trip! That volcano no one can pronounce is blowing again. Hope you get home!?!?!

    1. The Nine Inch Nails music in ‘300’ is pretty cool, I’m not a fan but I really like it in the trailer, finding the right music to go with the ‘mood’ is an art form in and of itself. Yes, some TV shows do have some entertaining opening sequence, but I don’t watch hardly any TV at all these days. The one I remember from when I was a kid was the Dallas opening, I still have the music stuck in my head even now! The Bond films were all the rage in the past, but they’re all looking the same y’know.

      Yeah, hopefully I don’t get stuck in London, but so far the airports have resumed to normal. Fingers-crossed it stays that way!

  4. The Casino Royale is cool for the first minute then it gets boring real quick! One I like is the one for State of Play where it shows how a newspaper is printed from the beginning of the process to the moment it’s delivered. Very cool one!

    1. I’ve got to re-watch the State of Play again, somehow I didn’t remember it though I watched it not too long ago. I think I like Casino Royale because of the music “You Know My Name” It’s probably not the best Bond song out there, but for some reason I love it. And I listen to Bond soundtrack A LOT!

  5. Good picks! Up in the Air was pretty cool, huh? Dug the song choice as well. Wish I paid more attention to this kind of stuff, but my favorite’s always gonna be Pi I think.

    1. Yeah, for some reason that Up in the Air one makes me want to fly 🙂 It’s a good movie but the opening title is even better! I’ll check out what that Pi one looks like, what year was that Aiden?

  6. “Insomnia’s” opening titles are amazing. It completely sums up Al Pacino’s character.

    I think “The Watchmen” has the best opening title sequence ever…it can exist on it’s own terms, it can be it’s own short film. It’s queued up to one of the most cliche (yet greatest) songs ever – Bob Dylan could hold up a paraplegic.

    And as big of movie snob I am, I really like “Wolverine” and the opening credits are wonderfully done. Showing the time span of these two near immortal as they travel through every American war. It’s classic.

    I’ve always felt the opening titles to most of Scorsese’s work is amazingly wonderful. “Mean Streets”, “The King of Comedy” and “Raging Bull” come to mind instantly.

    This is a WONDERFUL post!

    1. Hi Frank, thanks for your comment. I REALLY like Watchmen opening title, it was actually in my top ten when I first wrote this but for some reason it got left out! You’re right, it’s like a short film on its own, I could watch that one over & over again. Oh right, Wolverine! That’s a case where the opening credits is way better than the movie, it made you expect something great out of it, alas…

      Scorsese is a very artistic guy, so he must’ve had a hand in creating those opening sequences. Ritchie is the same way in that regard.

  7. Wow. Great post. Casino Royale, 300, Up in the Air and Thank You for Smoking were amazing sequences. I forgot about The Hulk, I wouldn’t have remembered that one. I’m trying to think of what ones you might have missed. Let me get back to you.

    1. Thanks Luke! Yes, let me know which ones you like. I’ve been going to youtube and watch some of the ones people mention here and there are definitely some great ones I haven’t seen.

    1. Hi Hatter, looks like we both agree on ‘Smoking.’ Isn’t that fun? I’m totally against tobacco but the movie is just so fun and entertaining, definitely one of Eckhart’s best roles. I even like it despite Katie Holmes being in it.

  8. I was editing a title sequence at home recently and referenced the Catch Me If You Can opening title 😀
    I like your list. In terms of recent films, Up in the Air definitely stood out as being quite original.

  9. Marc

    Man these are all great! I need to watch Kiss Kiss again now…so thanks for that:)

    Personal favs have to be Casino Royale (made even better by Chris Cornell’s song…one of the best Bond songs yet) and Up in the Air.

    But the 300 and the Sherlock Holmes end credits (another made exceptional because of the music) are fine additions as well.

    Have fun on your trip Ruth!!

    1. Hey thanks Marc! I LOVE Chris Cornell’s song, that’s probably why I love the title sequence so much. Yes, it could very well be one of the best Bond’s theme songs. ‘300’ is just so artistic for such a bloody movie, Zach Snyder definitely has awesome taste in music as well, it just works perfectly with the trailer, title sequence and within the movie itself.

    1. Hi there, welcome to FC. Oh yeah I remember Thank You for Smoking, I think Jason Reitman has a knack for creating inventing title sequences.

Join the conversation by leaving a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s