Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Analysing Saul Bass Title Sequences

Anatomy of a Murder (1959) — Art of the Title
We start of this sequence by seeing a grey screen before we hear the sound of trumpets as the director's name appears, shortly followed by dismembered body parts forming a body. The communicates to me that Bass is saying that the director it the body of the film. We then are focused on close ups of body parts with the names of the film crew labelled on them. Communicating that though the director controls the body, the parts that make the body are the film crew.

While not only representing the film crew. The opening sequence is also like analysing a dead, dismembered body, showing close-ups for better analysis. This could introduce the idea of the story, as the title suggests, looking at the anatomy of a murder and piecing it together like a puzzle. Much like in the way the pars are assembled in the sequence.

Catch Me If You Can (2002) — Art of the Title
At the beginning of this sequence we here slow, yet curios music as a slow fade introduces us to the scene of an airport with the large writing "DreamWorks Pictures presents" at the top of the screen. Because DreamWorks in a big company, the fact that it is above an air port could show that they're the base of operation, much like an airport is, but as we progress in this sequence we see that a lot of things happen in or around the airport.
We see a suspicious man who's carefully edging in from the left side of the screen. As he makes his way in, the name of the producer and director are seen. Following that, the name of the actor "Leonardo DiCaprio" appear which has a discreet arrow point at the man. We can now assume that this man we are following is played by DiCaprio. The same thing is done with Tom Hanks later.
As the scenes in the sequence change (Airport, pool, hospital, ect), the colour scheme also changes, representing the clear change of each location but keeping the same situation. At the same time as the locations change, the characters change to fit in, accordingly.

Bunny Lake is Missing (1965) — Art of the Title
The simplicity, yet brilliance, of this sequence is a fine example of the great ideas and work of Saul Bass.
There is a hand, which appears to be male, that tears out segments of dark paper that reveals a lighter backdrop on which the names of people and companies that participated in the making of the film are on. This is revealing to us what's underneath that what we initially see, which maybe a helping us to understand what later takes place in the film. It shows us things that were always there, but hidden from view.
The final shape torn out of the paper before we enter the start of the film is in the shape of a small girl. The shape is missing from the paper, we assume the shape represents Bunny Lake. The fact that the shape is torn from the paper could show how she was torn away from her family or surroundings.
When we first see the title, we can notice that the "sing" in "missing" is fading out. As one of the themes in this film is mental illness because it's questioned whether Bunny Lake actually exists, the fading could stand for mental deterioration over time. Alternatively, as the word "sing" is highlighted, singing may be a motif or theme in the story (though this is just a guess as I haven't seen the movie.)

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