Title sequence

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Title sequence for In Another Land (1932)

The title sequence or opening sequence refers to the beginning of a film in which the members of the film staff and the actors are listed. It is often referred to as the opening credits ; however, this term can also refer to the beginning of the film strip (sometimes provided with a countdown ), which is required for threading into the projector and is not intended for the viewer.

While simple text panels introduced the film at the beginning of the development of the opening credits, it developed into a style-defining genre in the 1960s through artists such as Saul Bass and Maurice Binder . Title sequences for films like Vertigo  (1958) or Grand Prix  (1966) are still an expression of contemporary design and illustration.

Details of the placement of the names are contractually regulated. Typography also plays an important role .

Historical development

The history of the opening credits begins in the early years of the film with the filmmakers' efforts to hold onto the film material by name and to signal the beginning of the film. Until the 1940s, pragmatic lists of the film staff dominated . It was not until the 1950s that the opening credits developed into an artistic expression. Artists such as Saul Bass, Wayne Fitzgerald and Maurice Binder understood the self-commitment of the film companies to name all those involved in the opening credits as an expanded area of ​​film narration and design.

When Alfred Hitchcock , who began his career in the silent film era as a title designer, released his film Vertigo in 1958 , he had hired Saul Bass, then known as a poster and logo designer, to create the opening credits for the film. Bass continues with Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960), Bunny Lake has disappeared ( Otto Preminger , 1965) and Grand Prix ( John Frankenheimer ) style-defining title sequences. Maurice Binder was responsible for numerous film credits for the James Bond series from 1962 until his death , including James Bond - 007 is chasing Dr. No (1962). The distinctive opening sequence of the Bond films also shows the ability of a title sequence to create a recognition value even in conjunction with a title melody , which has also been used in the Pink Panther series since the first film ( Der rosarote Panther , 1963) .

Some directors also use the design of the film opening credits to underline their role as a writer and to reflect on filmmaking itself. So wrote Jean Cocteau in La belle et la bête hand (1949), the credits with chalk on a blackboard or described Jean-Luc Godard the facts about the film Contempt (1963) as the voice-over , while the bias imparted itself an idea of turning everyday . Quentin Tarantino transfers the approach in the opening credits to Death Proof (2007) with the supposedly poor film copy and the torn film roll into the present.

The new style movement of the title sequence during the 1960s found breeding ground in the rise of television . Given the film's loss of attractiveness, film studios endeavored to upgrade film over television. In addition to the increasing production of epic films in a few patented widescreen formats , studios tried to highlight their films with orchestral preludes in elaborate title sequences. Bass' work was to influence the highly graphic opening sequences of numerous television shows in the 1960s . Its graphic minimalism is also quoted in the title sequences of current films such as Catch Me If You Can ( Steven Spielberg , 2002).


A special cinegraphica has been developed for narrow film titles .


The opening credits have an introductory effect for the actual film without anticipating. Different designs are possible. Often the opening credits are made clearly visible as part of the film, with the names of those involved in the foreground while the action is introduced in the background ( Taxi Driver , Martin Scorsese , 1976). This approach was originally developed so that the work and copyright notices could not be easily separated.

In contrast, a film leader can stand out from the film in terms of content and design. In the opening credits to Chinatown ( Roman Polański , 1974), for example, a change of image from depictions of historical typography in neutral black and white to the actual film plot is set, whereby a link between the two elements can be created with the help of film music. A film leader is also conceivable after an initial plot sequence, such as in The Drawer's Contract ( Peter Greenaway , 1982), or the first film climax, as in the James Bond films .

Some title sequences are elaborately produced and represent a work of their own. In Delicatessen ( Jean-Pierre Jeunet , Marc Caro , 1991), for example, the camera glides over a large number of objects in a detailed setting, with the viewer's gaze at the end of the film title being more or less by chance detected. In some sequences the film plot is condensed and hinted at in advance. For example, the opening credits to Seven ( David Fincher , 1995), inspired by the scratched intro of Stan Brakhage's claustrophobic Desist film (1954), condense the entire plot and its resolution. At the beginning of Casino (Martin Scorsese, 1995) leading actor Robert De Niro arrives in a fireball accompanied by the final chorale of the St. Matthew Passion (“We sit down with tears”) in the lap of Las Vegas at night, which anticipates the outcome of the film . Vertigo and Psycho also correspond to this approach , the title sequences of which take up the film title and theme.

Similar sequences


  • Alexander Böhnke, Rembert Hüser, Georg Stanitzek (eds.): The book to the opening credits. “The Title Is A Shot” . Vorwerk 8, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-930916-72-X .
  • Alexander Böhnke: opening credits. In: Joanna Barck u. a .: Faces of the film. Transcript, Bielefeld 2005, ISBN 3-89942-416-6 , pp. 307-319.
  • Rembert Hüser: The opening credits are annoying. And how . In: Albert Kümmel, Erhard Schüttpelz (Hrsg.): Signals of the disturbance . Fink, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7705-3746-7 , pp. 237-260.
  • Susanne Pfeffer (Ed.): Vorspannkino. 47 exhibition titles. KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin / Walther König, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-86560-876-5 .
  • Georg Stanitzek: Reading the Title Sequence (opening credits, Générique) . Translated by Noelle Aplevich. In: Cinema Journal 48.4 (Summer 2009), pp. 44-58.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The film leader - analysis. University of Potsdam , accessed on May 12, 2016 .
  2. Vorspannkino , press release of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.
  3. a b Holger Liebs: A suction that pulls into the depths: The art of the opening credits . ( Memento of the original from September 25, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 262 kB) In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , February 4, 2009. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.hauptstadtkulturfonds.berlin.de
  4. a b Wassili Zygouris: opening credits / closing credits . In: Thomas Koebner (Hrsg.): Sachlexikon des Films . 2nd Edition. Reclam, August 2006, ISBN 978-3-15-010625-9 , p. 755.