Wednesday, February 4, 2009

To Kill A Title Sequence

Man, I love title sequences, and I just found the best site ever for them. Go there, spend hours there. You won't be sorry.

Here is some screencaps from one of the greatest sequences of all time, from To Kill A Mockingbird. Shockingly contemporary. Genius.

From Art of the Title:

In the first seconds of this dawning glory, Elmer Bernstein’s notes softly dot and fade. A child, our beloved Scout, hums lullaby-like. At the heart of a masterpiece, a cigar box. At the heart of the box, Gregory Peck. A silent pocket watch ticks in remembrance.

Scout lifts a crayon and sets in motion the quiet, unintentional roll of a marble and the wonderment of the examined life found in every moment, of every life.

Art of the Title’s favorite element to Stephen O. Frankfurt’s opening title sequence for “To Kill A Mockingbird” is the window reflected in the marbles. We get the sense that this lolling calm happens just off screen while, on the other side of that window Atticus -the very embodiment of security- sways thoughtfully on the porch swing.

Our appreciation for Frankfurt’s compositions changes not with each viewing but with each sitting. This is the kind of perfection that rewards anyone in illimitable meditation. This is, in part, a testament to Frankfurt’s masterful macro photography, an innovation that broke the mold upon inception. There are many other instances of extreme close up in film, but used in these opening moments we find a kind of lyricism we recognize as honest.

[The goal was] “to find a way to get into the head of a child,” Frankfurt is quoted as saying. What grips you upon subsequent viewing: the sequence is tonally different than the film while being reflective of it.

A wave, as drawn by Scout, is cross matched with the beaded chain over the silent timepiece. The child draws what can be discerned as dividing lines. And in the tearing of the mockingbird, a chasm.

Lots more to come...