This film actually has two different title sequences, one for the actual actors and one for the characters themselves. I only wish more movies did that; I’m terrible at remember character names so anything helps. The first is the actual credits, which run over a single shot that moves from various security monitors which follow four rabbis making their way through a building while discussing the validities and merits of the Bible, only to have these four men turn out to be diamond thieves in disguise. The last shot of Guy Richie’s directing credit over a revolver is not only awesome but appears to be common staple of his films. It’s after this, after the audience has acknowledged the awesome credits they have just witnessed and settled into the film, do we get hit with another set of an even more awesome title sequence introducing the characters of the movie.
9. Alien (1979)
Got to love the power of lines.
You know you’re about to watch a suspenseful film when the opening title takes like a minute to fully appear. What I love about it is that we all know what the title is, we knew it when we decided to watch the movie – and yet it still teases us line by line. I know this is silly, but every time I see it I forget about the last two lines that appear in the E and the A – it surprises me every time because to me the title seems complete enough for my satisfaction, and also I have the memory of a tin can. I wanted to remind people of this title sequence mostly because it’s showed up again pretty recently in the trailer for Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s sort-of-not-really-but-close prequel to Alien. I think it was the inclusion of this title effect that really, really set me over the edge when I first saw that trailer. I get excited every day because of that movie.
8. Se7en (1995)
Se7en’s beginning credits are what every other movie about a serial killer’s credits wishes it could be. What makes it work is that there is no indicator that this movie is going to be as messed up as it will be up until this point – as the pre-credits really just set up the main characters themselves and not the actual killings that they are about to solve. It’s only when we see this wonderful close-up montage of the killer preparing his journals do we instantly say to ourselves “Oh shit, this is going to be nuts.” – Those journals by the way, as you can read about in a recent Cracked article, were meticulously prepared by designer John Sable… and I mean meticulously.
Oddly enough what I love most about these credits is rather not what they show us, but what they don’t show us – specifically the name of a certain actor who makes a very special appearance at the end of the film.
7. Life of Brian (1979)
Or… you know, any of the Terry Gilliam beginning credit sequences really. I’ve never seen anything quite like his style anywhere else – it’s truly unique and extremely beautiful… and at the same time so, so silly. There’s something about his indiscernible blend of original art with found art that’s just so perfectly done – he seems to find the best angle that removes all dignity from any photo he gets his hands on. I think the best part of his credit sequences is how poorly they actually showcase the credits themselves; everything is barely readable and goes by way too quick, and yet the honor of being included in a Gilliam animation no doubt outweighs that detail. And of course, with Life Of Brian specifically, the whole thing is set to a wonderful opening song written by Michael Palin. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find who actually performed the song, so if anyone knows that would be awesome because it’s driving me insane.
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