Thursday, 6 March 2008

Cinemaniacal #3: Credits Where Credits Are Due

I must give a hat-tip to gossip site Defamer for this video, which is a "re-imagined" version of the credits for Star Wars as if they were done by legendary graphic designer, filmmaker, and most famously, title-sequence maker Saul Bass.

And here's a taste of some of Saul Bass' other work for other classic films. enjoy the clips and keep reading for some educational content.

Bunny Lake is Missing:

Anatomy of a Murder:

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho:

Oddly enough movie credits have an interesting history. From the dawn of film until the 1970s the majority of credits, including above and below the line* workers were put at the beginning of the film. Closing credits basically contained the words: THE END, and that was it.

This meant that opening credits had to be interesting, in order to hook in viewers. That meant catchy music and visually interesting title sequences. Not all films did this. Some bucked tradition and did more minimalist openings, but they were not the majority.

Things began to change in the 1970s. The amount of people that needed to be listed began to grow, so the bulk of the crew and the supporting cast went onto the end credits, and the stars, producers and senior staff appeared in the opening credits.

George Lucas changed that, even resigning from the DGA, when he dispensed with opening credits entirely with Star Wars, just putting the title in the beginning, and all the credits at the end. That trend has been followed by other "blockbuster" films, with some foregoing even having a title.

Meanwhile in most films, the opening credits lose their own special place, ending up salted throughout the beginning of the film proper. While I think filmmakers should be free to choose what style suits their film best, I can't help but think that the sort of graphically interesting visual dance of old fashioned opening credits is a fading art form.
*Above the Line: Movie industry term to describe main actors, writers, directors, producers, and top technicians on the credit pecking order.
Below the Line: Movie industry term to describe the technical staff and supporting cast of a film.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of The Incredibles as well.