Title design can be interesting for a film. Right from the beginning, a film’s title can set the tone for the next 2 hours that will unspool in front of you. Title designs can be the extra boost that makes a very good film into a great one.
DUCK SOUP (1933)
Duck Soup is an old film, but it is a hilarious one, and one that has timeless humor. It is a political satire of sorts against what is to come: World War. However, the film’s beginning depicts 4 ducks (representative of the 4 Marx brothers) in a pot, quack-quack-quacking away as they are being boiled. In a way, it is metaphoric for what is to come for the 4 Marx brothers in the film.
GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
‘A classic, a sweeping epic, a stodgy stuck-up Southern bore’ can all describe Gone with the Wind (Personally, I love the film). The film opens with a scroll of the words “Gone with the Wind”, and the titles themselves even express wind blowing. The scroll of the words shows the grand sweep of the film… maybe I’m thinking too deep into this. Whatever, it’s a nice sunset.
THE THIRD MAN (1948)
These titles appear plain on paper, but in correspondence with the film, it’s a pure delight. The text of the title appears on a background of a zither, the instrument that plays the film’s main theme. Also cool is that the zither in the titles lines up with the zither in the soundtrack. It’s an incredibly jive jingle in an incredibly sophisticated film.
Right now this film is my favorite of all-time, but here there is no favoritism. The film opens with a distinct amount of red, a close-up on an eye, and a circle-like web spinning near the eye. Like the film, it is deeply unsettling, scarily beautiful, and way ahead of its time.
NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)
An incredible film with incredible titles. The score in this is bombastic, while the titles are innovative and somewhat goofier than the Vertigo titles.
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
Despite being a desert set film, it begins with Peter O’Toole revving his motorcycle in England. It’s incredibly simple, and Maurice Jarre’s soundtrack is delightful. Just being simple always has the potential to be effective!
Blowup, by Antonioni, is a film a have mixed feelings for. However, I can say without a doubt that the opening titles are the best in film history. A dancing woman is portrayed within the letters on a grass background. The woman makes the titles immediately watchable, but the grooviness makes the titles feel like you (the viewer) are in 1966, watching the film for the first time.
TAXI DRIVER (1976)
HOLY! THAT TAXI! JUST! CAME OUT! OF! THE! STEAM! HOLY! Whatever. Bernard Herrman’s eerie score and vagueness of the title make this instantly memorable in a movie that is one of the most unforgettable ever made.
RAGING BULL (1980)
This film is beautiful. It opens with Jake LaMotta, the boxer, dancing. He is boxing (or prepping to box) but the movements are so graceful to the sounds of opera, it is essentially a dance. The whole film is a dance (with the devil), as every scene has this hidden intensity, one that can be felt right from the real beginning.
BLUE VELVET (1986)
Blue Velvet is a film about what is hiddn underneath. So fittingly, there are blue drapes. What is hidden underneath the blue velvet? A natural curiousity is incited, and the curiousity dwindles as the picture begins, when the titled drapes fade from sight.
I love Juno. Some hate it, some love it. The titles are visually inventive, reminding anyone about the current youth generation. The titles are lovingly bizarre and humorous, as is therest of the film.
So there you have it. My personal favorite opening titles in films. I personally wish the current movie industry saw more opening titles, but that might just be me. Comment below on your favorite opening titles!
Author Bio: Sean enjoys watching and writing about films from any age and place. You can read more of his writings on http://www.thescreenteen.blogspot.com.