Generally, the first image to appear on the screen, either the Studio’s or the distributor’s logo. The logo is the studio’s trademark.
- Make a list of the Main American studios. Describe them.
- Can you distinguish between the studio’s ?
The logo can be integrated with the film. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Stephen Spielberg, 1985, opens with Paramount’s snow-capped mountain, which appears concurrently with the Indiana Jones score. Some filmmakers actually start the action with the logo. In That’s Life, Blake Edwards, the Columbia logo appears simultaneously with background conversation that continues through the credits. The voices seem to be surgeons’ performing an operation, the result of which will not be known until the end. The plot is set in motion with the appearance of the logo.
In The Conspiracy Theory, Richard Donner, 1997, the logo reveals itself to be just a huge ad on the side of a bus as the camera tracks backwards. It anticipates the motif of delusion and sensorial deception. In Batman and Robin, 1997, the logo undergoes a metamorphosis and merges into the Batman’s sign as it recedes in the screen which turns into a black sky. Even when the logo is filmed for its own sake, as is the case in Selznick’s production Rebecca, Hitchcock, 40, we may notice a contrastive parallelism between the white Manor of the company and the dark, ominous Manor of Manderley.
- Have you other examples?
Main titles and End credits
Main titles can be creative. Saul Bass in Psycho. The title designed by Bass splits apart as the actors’names while bars (horizontal and vertical) slide in and out.(They worked on a large, white painted plywood board with pins to guide the bars) For the title, Venus Bold extended typeface was used, then the title letters were cut, each part was shot at a different speed. The main titles prepare the viewer for a movie about split personality as well as one in which slashing and cutting will figure prominently. Besides Herrmann wrote a cello and violin piece with screaming violins. The strings throbbed sonorously and gnawed the nerves, conveying the abyss of human psyche, dread and anticipating the stabbing knife of the famous shower sequence.
Basic functions: a program, a playbill. It establishes the mood, it may give the spectator some clues, indications about the time, the place.
It may act as an appetiser and arouse the expectations of the viewers. It may provide the very fist clues, create a mood, a feeling or presence, that is an ambience.
It often signalises the genre of the film (westerns, comedies, etc)
Hence it should be approached in terms of contract since it builds up the first status of the spectator.
- Describe the best titles you ever saw. Analyse their impact and contribution to the film.
The credits sequence. Sometimes, the main action begins
with, along the credits sequence.
Other films open cold with a precredits sequence, a sort of prologue preceding the credits, the title appearing only after the sequence is over.
- Make your own list to illustrate the various handlings of opening sequences.
The end credits: They acknowledge everyone associated with the film. Their length proves something about the complexity of filmmaking. They may be used as epilogue or postlude. Sometimes, they include outtakes (shots deleted from the film)
- List the devices you know that allow to integrate the end credit into the plot.
- Analysis of introductory sequences: Scream, Wes Craven, Copycat, Breakdown, Jonathan Mostow, 97, Lost Highway, David Lynch, The Game, David Fincher.
Opening Titles and End Titles
There are titles other than main titles. A title is simply printed material that appears in a film.
Opening titles can be a time-place designation : -‘Shangai, 1935’, ‘Phoenix, Arizona. Friday, December The Eleventh. Two Forty-Three P.M.’
A preface or an introduction.
It can appear stationary or it can roll-up or down the screen (a roll-up title or crawl)
-Which famous film used elaborate roll-up titles, in which the print moves up the screen, evoking the serials of the 30s, 40s. ?
An epigraph or a quotation is another common opening title.
- Which very famous film is introduced by an old Arabian Proverb ‘And lo the beast looked upon the face of the beauty’ ? Find other examples.
Sometimes they are used as disclaimers, denying that the film could have any resemblance with any real facts.
The end title can function as an epilogue. Particularly
useful to inform the audience of the fate of the characters, especially if extending
the action would prove anticlimactic and eventually contradict or tune down
the mood the closure created. It qualifies the resolution.
When the end title quotes the opening one as in Shock Corridor ( Euripides « Whom the God swish to destroy, they first make mad ») it rings painfully ironic, since the reporter who feigned madness went mad.
- in silent movies.
- In contemporary films. Hannah and Her Sisters, Woody Allen, 1986, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kaufman, 1988
Other uses of printed Word
Rosebud in Citizen Kane, Orson Welles.
The letter in Casablanca, Michael Curtis. As Rick reads it the rain falls on the paper, causing the ink to run, tear-like, down the paper. It signals the end of the affair that has faded like the words on the letter and symbolises the tears Rick cannot generate.
Signposts, Street signs, newspapers, and plaques are used to pintpoint settings. The 66 Highway in Grapes of Wrath, the San Francisco paper seen at the opening of The Birds, Hitchcock, 61.
Print should be used as a means of supplying information that can only be imparted in that form. They can perform important narrative functions in a film.
In each case, these devices must be noticed, defined, and their contributions to the film must be taken into account. Seek for: real effect, verissimilitude, political commitment, didactic purposes, denegation (this is not true and yet…or still…), duplicity, voyeurism, allusions, references, connotations, proleptic devices, anticipation, teasing curiosity, orienting the expectations.