Monday, 16 January 2012

Opening Title Sequence: 'Pulp Fiction'

Expanding further on type in the context of film, we were given the task of analyzing an opening credit sequence of our choice. The opening sequence plays a crucial role in engaging the audience's attention. For this reason, the Typography must be captivating in order to communicate the style of the film. I chose to look at the classic Tarantino Gangster movie 'Pulp Fiction', as I believe the opening credits are stylish and memorable.

It appears to me that Slab serif typefaces have been chosen to hit the audience like a slap in the face. The first few lines that introduce 'Jersey Films' and 'Quinten Tarantio' as the director are displayed in a stylish uppercase font, emphasizing the slick and cool vibe of the movie. Against a black backdrop, intense orange egyptian type rises, occupying most of the black space once it becomes central. I imagine if you sat bellow the large screen in a cinema, the film title 'Pulp Fiction' would appear as if it were towering over you. I believe the purpose of this intense orange poster font is to generate a sense of intimidation. I can almost imagine Sammual L. Jackson's character looming over me with his side arm in hand as I see this font rise in to the frame. What is interesting then is the film title stubbornly remains in the shot as the rest of the titles appear. It does not rush to make way for the rest of the credits, It backs away slowly. As I watch it fade in to the distance, I get the sensation that the title is alive and it's eyes are fixed on me. It seems to impend in the distance, never breaking eye sight as if it is watching you closely. By the time the credits have reached 'Harvey Keitel', the orange and white briefly become awkward on the eyes, and the film title is slightly distorting the white type face. Again this shows the Orange title's refusal to leave the shot in a hurry, and it continues to loom throughout the duration of the main star's introductions.

After this, the co-stars are shown in smaller more subdued sand colour. What I like about this title sequence is that the type is never truly static, and the sequence maintains a sense of pace that keeps hold of the audiences attention. The looming title is soon broken up by a fast scrolling list. Even the stationary type such as 'co-staring' and 'casting by...' flash up abruptly and then jitter until they disappear again in another instant. This punchy deliverance of the type works together with the fast pace surf music to create a very forceful and commanding atmosphere. As the audience we feel we are under the control of the opening credits. This does not generate discomfort though, but a sense of excitement as we hope for a film that is as ruthless as the opening title sequence.

The way that some of the typography in this credit sequence develops its own authoritative personality, reminds me of a quote by Kyle Cooper we were shown in a recent context seminar. He said: "Type is like actors to me. It takes on characteristics of its own.' I believe that the opening sequence for 'Pulp Fiction' really has personality within the type. Like some of the characters in the film itself, this title sequence commands the audience and really communicates what is to come next: a look in to the criminal underworld.

In conclusion, in our area of study we are likely to be working with non static type. Type that must interact with moving media and that must communicate a theme or the language of a film, game or animation. This credit sequence does this. It gives us massive clues as to what we should expect in the movie itself, and is very stylistic and engaging.

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