What lies ahead

by whitewirestudio

As South by Southwest in Austin is kicking off, the NY Times did a lil piece to talk about their new film award: title sequences from television and film. Among the finalists are Where the Wild Things Are, Up in the Air, Bored to Death, and Wowie, a finalist from Iowa City! A complete list, including links, can be found here.

::sigh:: I love titles (as noted in the previous post about True Blood), and so do a lot of people. The Art of the Title Sequence is devoted to, well, just that, and is a great resource. Janet Pierson, the producer of the film portion of SXSW, says she doesn’t think any major film festival has honored these design nuggets before. Psh.

And we couldn’t possibly mention titles unless we talked about Saul Bass with The Man with the Golden Arm from ’55. DesignMuseum.org writes:

When the reels of film for Otto Preminger’s controversial new drugs movie, The Man with the Golden Arm, arrived at US movie theatres in 1955, a note was stuck on the cans – “Projectionists – pull curtain before titles”.

Until then, the lists of cast and crew members which passed for movie titles were so dull that projectionists only pulled back the curtains to reveal the screen once they’d finished. But Preminger wanted his audience to see The Man with the Golden Arm’s titles as an integral part of the film.

The movie’s theme was the struggle of its hero – a jazz musician played by Frank Sinatra – to overcome his heroin addiction. Designed by the graphic designer Saul Bass the titles featured an animated black paper-cut-out of a heroin addict’s arm. Knowing that the arm was a powerful image of addiction, Bass had chosen it – rather than Frank Sinatra’s famous face – as the symbol of both the movie’s titles and its promotional poster.

That cut-out arm caused a sensation and Saul Bass reinvented the movie title as an art form. By the end of his life, he had created over 50 title sequences for Preminger, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, John Frankenheimer and Martin Scorsese. Although he later claimed that he found the Man with the Golden Arm sequence “a little disappointing now, because it was so imitated”.

What will become of title sequences in another 50 years?