Opening Titles

Ignore the brownface and watch the choreographyThis week’s MSN Movies gallery is a celebration of great cinematic opening-credit sequences (and, in a much smaller way, the magic of Bing‘s video search function), and as with any list, it’s more fun to think about the stuff I couldn’t squeeze in than the choices that actually made the cut.

“Watchmen”, for example, or “Panic Room”. The elegant simplicity of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. The majestic opening sequences of “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” didn’t qualify, as neither has actual credits. I thought about “Raiders of the Lost Ark” an awful lot, but the credits end just as the sequence gets interesting. “The Wild Bunch” and “”Deja Vu” have excellent directorial credit placement, but otherwise they’re just sort of okay. And as much as I love the scene-setting opening of “Lawrence of Arabia”, I can’t argue for it as the best of its kind.

So there you go. Click though the gallery, watch the videos, and think about other options. What would you have chosen?

9 thoughts on “Opening Titles”

  1. Strictly on opening credits rather than opening sequence, I’ve always been partial to the subtitled credits of Monty Python and the Holy Grail…”My sister was bitten by a moose once…”

  2. Honourable mentions for ‘Alien 3’ with that extended note off the 20th Century Fox fanfare and the rapid-fire collage of just what happened to Newt, Hicks and the rest. Don’t forget the first ‘Superman’ movie. C’mon. That flash of red and yellow at the 0:28 sec mark burned its way into my childhood in the best possible sense.

  3. The only glaring omission that comes to mind is opening for Goldfinger – it so perfectly encapsulates the feel of not only the movie, but the series in general, that it set the standard for every subsequent James Bond film.

    You also have to give credit to The Pink Panther – I can’t think of another opening credit sequence that inspired its own series of successful cartoons.

  4. “The Fall” by Tarsem has my favorite credit sequence ever. Gorgeously shot.

    And although I have problems with “The Imposters” as a film, I adore the opening credit sequence.

  5. All good points — and I did acknowledge the Bond films and the “Pink Panther” movies in the introduction to the gallery, because I didn’t think picking one example of each would satisfy anybody. I mean, for every vote for “Goldfinger” there’s someone else who prefers “For Your Eyes Only” and/or “Tomorrow Never Dies”. They’re wrong, of course, but good luck telling THEM that.

    I would also like to point out that no one has held up stop-motion sequences as seen in “Brain Donors” or “Youth in Revolt”, because any film that opens with a stop-motion sequence has just rolled over and died in front of you, and the next 90 minutes will be nothing but putrefaction.

  6. “I did acknowledge the Bond films and the “Pink Panther” movies in the introduction to the gallery, because I didn’t think picking one example of each would satisfy anybody.”

    Hmm, so you did. Sorry about that, I skimmed the introduction.

    By way of apology, let me offer two more favourites I’m fairly certain you didn’t mention: Thank You For Smoking’s cigarette packaging themed opening, and the Alex Ross illustrated opening titles for Spider-man 2.

    I also came across this neat website googling for any decent films with stop motion openings: (I was unsuccessful in my quest however, assuming films that are entirely stop-motion don’t count).

  7. Those are both really good examples, and I’m embarrassed to admit neither of them even occurred to me. I was thinking about the prop-based credits of Jared Hess’ films, which have been getting more sophisticated with each iteration. Fun fact: That’s probably the only time you’ll see the phrase “more sophisticated” used in reference to “Gentlemen Broncos”.

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