SPEW :: where credits due

created: March 3, 1998

This was a monumentous idea i had for a coffeetable book on the then emerging art of opening credits. either a book or some other medium. remember, this was 98, before a lot of the self-publishing streams we NOW take for granted even existed. Since then, this new artform has taken a more prominent role in the majour motion picture as a whole. We’ve seen Kyle Cooper become a player. This is no longer a hot only-whispered topic. Its now old hat. But mark my words: Kyle Cooper will receive the 1st Oscar for the latest category: Best Opening Credits.

Where Credits Due…

First impressions

A duality must be recognized:
The impression we get as we watch the credits as pure, unoppinionated viewers…swayed only by some feeling we have for the actors/directors previously viewed works. Or better yet, the blind-taste-test. Have the viewer sat down and the movie played…assuming that they’ve never heard of the film or actors before. But to be fair and nonpartial, the anticipation one feeles prior to a film is due, in part, to the presence of certain respected and genre-setting elements. A Director like Lucas or Spielberg, whose name precedes them, will cause the viewers anticipation, aghain: in some way, to be altered. At this point, we rarely, if ever (again) go into a film NOT knowing whose on the card.

The reprocessing of the information once the plot/narritive/film hase been revealed/told/viewed. A once-pass of some fine credits will, in many cases, send the viewer into the narritive with only a shread of a hint about what they’re about to see. Usually, they’re left with simply a mood or tone…like a taste in the mouth. However, once they’ve made the journey thru the film, they can go back and analyze the introduction credits for their true wieight in relationship to the whole. Jusge the narrative of the credits in relation to the narritive of the film. How much was revealed? Was it all back-story or was there simple a snap-shot of narritive-present-day…also to bring the viewer up to speed, but more to the pooint: to show a kind of “day in the life of…” Think the waking/dressing/leaving scenes in the credits of TRADING PLACES.

Judge the art/pace of the credits to that of the film. There are some that would,here, argue that films like SEVEN contained credits that very accuratly set the tone for the film to come. Yet, coming out of them, we cannot make tangible cognitive sense out of them. its only after the films narritive has been revealed…in all its detail that we remember that the fingers we saw in the credits WERE those of a compulsive…they WERE bandaged…they WERE writing in the same journals Freeman said would take 10 men years to sift thru.

Seperate entities in and of themselves.
Do they have seperate directors?
Whats the hierarchy?

What about the fact that the title-logos on the promo material dont always match the title-logo in the credits? Think RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. The promo has this fanfare, ribald font that just spews “action-adventure” film. John Williams’ horns are RIGHT there with you when you read the title afterwards. However, once into the picture, the credits are somewhat sterile-white, accompanied by a markedly video-feel to them considering the richly textured stock of the film over which they appear. NOTE: the different fascets of the afore mentioned hieracrhy…that the producers that are in charge of marketing (at Paramount in the Dr. Jones case) are in seperate offices and on seperate pages from the producers of the physical element. They all might have the same cat sign their checks, but their output suggest that they operated autonomous of EACH OTHER throughout production.

Essense, in some way, to the music video…the editing, pace, etc

How much of the story should be revealed? At what cost symbolism (SPHERE, 007)

Credits that allow you to ignore their presence, their very substance VERSUS Credits whose very description (let alone any recognition as out of the ordinary) is the credits themselves. (flaming titles, mettal ones (a la T2).

ALL films have them. So what is it about the films whose credits stand out? Whose credits are such that they wrap you into a pre-narritive…for the keen eye. Films like THE GAME gave you first: animated puzzle peices breaking appart producers and directors names to get to THE GAME..no where was there a puzzle in the film…what was this? The standard: “Its a film called THE GAME. The title-credit should reflect this.” The puzzle gave way to the vintage films showing the wealthy in daylight. A boy. Presumably his father next to him. Stoic, yet overtly impatient. This man either really cold, or is one giant nerve. We see the detatched nature of the relationship this boy has with this fatehr. Its only thru flashbacks, later in the film that we learn the significance of the 16mm films within THE GAME credits.

Consider the film whose entry has no credits or the bare, egotistical minimum. Old films used to do this. There’d be the Studio first, which inthose days, was also the production company…usually the next title in todays films. Next, there’d be the stars, usually two, four at most…the drawing factor. This would be followed by the Director, and most likely the Story credit before that..perhaps thats where we caught the trend of letting the viewers enter the narritive with the Director as the last thing they see. Perhaps its a wise idea to let ALL the credits appear AFTER the film…for the sake of the viewer. That not even in a film like the new STAR WARS prequels should there be a credit to special effects by: And speaking of STAR WARS (trillogy)…there are 3 films that dont waste a thing. Its the 20th CENTURY FOX logo and extended score…black screen…that green lettering for LUCASFILM…then the famous: “A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY…” What comes next is legendary in the annals of motion picture credits: The mighty scripture of a generation. The pure, unfettered PLOTSEED, rising forth like the stalk. The words where that which was essential for what was to come. The audince would have to know, in a nutshell, what was needed to understand the Rebellion against the Empire…the black and white. Not because the film was to change motion picture histiry…but because Lucas was broke, and the credits were placeholders for character development that he couldnt afford. Its not a cheap move…rather, its a very traditional one…to give the audience a wee written hint of the story thats to unfold. It lets them hit the ground running.

Find a film or 5 that DONT have intro-credits that include the set-dresser and craft service.

Music – NIN
Style – NIN
Image – Spacey writing in the journals, prepping, propping up scenes Freeman and Pitt were later to discover.
Credits Scrawled as if by Spacey himself. Minute little letters. Shifty, grainy characters. Rising and falling to screen with same tempo as score.
Edit – A frenic pace that must be compared to either the mind of Spacey or the…

Manipulation of credits.
Calm, slow L-R/R-L tracking of the credits, getting distorted and refracted by invisible sphere. Real-time refreaction. Credit would be rolling way small, way left-right, then go out of site behind something, only to snap on scren way large and refracted thru glass distortion of sphere…now taking up entire screen.

007, before Goldeneye
Credits that serve as function and form. Sillouhuetted women (tradmark Bond credit motif) taking sledgehammer and hammer, and sickle to Lenin. They are forcibly dismantling the very symbolistic icon of the Soviet Union…a main element of the plot to come. As always, these naked shadows are interacting in some way with the titles of the credits…as if they shared the same physical space…as if they actually had the word Broccolli tracking up and past them as they stood on Lenins nose.

Beautifully organic…yet the very antithesis of organic. Were dealing with gene-splicing and gene-manipulation in this film. But were not to know that, for we’re got to assume that the viewer is PURE. Having not been swayed into forming oppinions on the narritive before they’ve seen it. The view must remain the sequestered-jury before they hear or see anything. Back to MOREAU. The credits show the inherent beauty of our innerspace. These shots are cut with shots of the manipulation of this complexity…this order.

“The high-point of the movie is a bold display of jaw-dropping visuals during the opening credits…”
– JAMES PALMER – Daily Beacon Staff Writer

“In its favor, the film has an eye-catching opening credit sequence, lush scenery and some nice camera work.”
– Jean Oppenheimer – BoxOffice Magazine

“Except for a gripping title sequence, director John Frankenheimer (who last made the TNT movie Andersonville) can’t make heads or tails out of this mess.”
– Sean P. Means – Film.com

Does the “credits” have to contain the credits? Cosmic/universal pull-back of Contact set pace for movie, smoothed you right over for the introduction of characters and narritive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *