The 9 Best Opening Credits Of All Time!

By Srikanth Kanchinadham. Posted on June 23, 2015

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you’re late for a movie? The possibility of missing out the opening credits. Most of the times, we’re under the assumption that we’ve not missed out on something significant. While this might be so most of times, yet some movies have opening credits that are integral to the film and leave a lasting impression on our minds. I am sure you remember some of these opening credits yourselves.

We thought it would be cool to compile some of the best opening credit sequences that have left a mark on cinema as well as cinephiles across the world. Have a look at the 9 that we think are awesome.

1. North By Northwest

Saul Bass was the man behind most of Hitchcock's classic opening credits. Over a career that lasted forty years, he designed posters and title sequences for classics such as Vertigo, Psycho, Goodfellas, Casino and many more.

Looking at the opening credits sequence of North By Northwest, we see multiple intersecting lines forming a skyscraper. As the sequence progresses, one can observe the graphical impression dissolving into a skyscraper where the orthographic window framework is mimicked. This progression ends at the ground level depicting the protagonist's journey through the film. The music increases in intensity as the sequence progresses heightening the tension and giving a sense of what is to come.

2. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

This murder mystery is well known for its engaging title sequence. With the use of graphical visual effects, Danny Yount designed the title sequence that is one of the coolest ever. Danny also designed the opening credits for movies like Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes and Tron: Legacy and has won two Emmy awards for his notable work in television too.

The sequence has a noir'ish feel, thanks to the choice of colors used. The orange, white and black colours give it a mysterious feel with a person jumping over a fence. The build up of the music is in sync with the sequence where a woman is pushed off a terrace with a full moon in the background.

3. Alien

The opening sequence of the movie has broken letters that bond as the space is shown. This was the second film in which Richard Greenberg designed the titles. Saul Bass went onto appreciate Greenberg’s work and claimed “I had the opportunity the other day to screen a reel of Richard’s work, and I was amazed at the uniformly high quality of his work. The fact is, he’s the only guy around whose work I wish I had done.” His title sequence for the film The Untouchables has also been revered among varied class of audiences.

The sequence begins with a pan through space with very mild music in the background. We can observe the letters broken into pieces, while the names of the cast start appearing on the screen. With each name, the broken pieces are joined together to form the title. This panning shot subtly suggests that the entire structure of the film will be clear only at the end of it.

4. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This Sergio Leone classic is revered by everyone. It is THE film of its genre. This classic, part of Leone's The Man With No Name Trilogy had impeccable opening credits, all thanks to Iginio Lardani. The designer had great interest in painting and came to the world of films by designing posters. He also designed various titles and trailers and showed his enigmatic style in this western classic.

The sequence begins with a cowboy riding on his horse with the western music in the background. This shows the audience that the film is set in the western background and the use of vibrant red defines the genre of the film. The sequence has many images with filters showing the context of the film. Use of cattle ranches and the sounds of gun shot add up to the western flavor. One also has to note the color of filter used for each character as it depicts the history of the character in the previous two films.

No piece on the title score can be complete without reference to (now) iconic theme music by the legendary composer, Ennio Morricone. One of the most widely referenced musical interludes in the history of cinema, the theme adds an energetic if menacing tone to the opening sequence.

5. The Pink Panther

Everyone is aware of this 1963 classic crime caper that introduced Inspector Closeau to the world. The movie had legendary intro music, thanks to Henry Mancini and a title sequence that few can forget. This sequence was designed by Friz Freleng, an American animator and cartoonist who won the Academy Award (1964) for the Best Animated Short Film.

The sequence begins inside a jewel where a pink panther puts on reading glasses, revealing part of what the film is based on. This is followed by a detective trying to catch the panther that sets the films tone. The use of a cartoon character in title sequences was unique to the period and which is why this remains one of the most loved and remembered opening sequences in film history.

6. Se7en

This 1995 classic was David Fincher's second film after Alien 3. Fincher is known for his thrilling scripts and intriguing background music. The designer of this film, Kyle Cooper has also done the opening credits for movies like The Mummy, Spider–Man and The Incredible Hulk.

The sequence is dark and has pages being flipped over. The pages have the names of cast and crew scribbled as handwritten notes that add to the feel that resonates throughout the movie. There are two key elements to the opening sequence, the details and the music. With the build up of music, one observes all the elements being joint together. These elements include pictures, writings and lot more.

These details are shown up close without revealing the identity of the person doing it. It is also seen that these are done in chronological order with almost no lighting, therein introducing a spooky or mysterious factor into the minds of the viewers. The scribbled writing gives an impression of clues or notes being taken down, thus giving he audience a clear picture of what the movie is all about. It's about a cop chasing criminals.

7. Catch Me If You Can

This Steven Spielberg classic topped with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks is undoubtedly one of the best con movies in modern cinema. If observed closely, we see that the opening credits sequence shows the entire story. This sequence was designed by Oliver Kuntzel and Florence Deygas, both based in Paris.

The sequence has an animated character move quickly airports, hospitals and court-houses thus exposing the motivations of the character and setting the tone for the film. The character moves up through the opening sequence, using planes & lifts, that signify his rise in position. Throughout the sequence there is a bigger animated character who is watching the movements of the protagonist. This captures the ethos of the film perfectly and tells you all you need to know about the film.

8. Dr. No

Who doesn't love the opening credits of a James Bond film. But few know the origin of these series of memorable credit sequences that fans await as much as they look forward to the next Bond film. Maurice Binder was the genius behind the gun barrel sequence which appeared on screen for the first time in this movie and then went on to define the James Bond series. Having worked on fourteen Bond films, he is also known for his significant work in Charade, The Grass Is Greener and Billion Dollar Brain.

In the opening sequence for Dr. No, we see James Bond shooting through the barrel. This became THE signature shot for opening sequences in all future Bond movies. In this sequence we see the transition of a white dot into various sophisticated colors. The music by Monty Norman mixed with the sophisticated use of colors was something that was never seen earlier. This iconic opening sequence alongwith Saul Bass' work with Hitchcock led to opening credits emerging as a serious art form in the 60's .

9. Lord Of War

This war movie directed by Andrew Niccol drew more attention towards the title sequence than the film itself. The opening sequence of the movie shows the life of a bullet through the manufacturing process, right down to the point where it enters a soldiers head. The computer generated imagery was supervised by Laurent Gillet.

The sequence starts at the factory where the entire manufacturing process of the bullet is shown, from molding to packing. This packaged box of bullets goes into the hands of various people, before ending into the hands of a rebel. This journey of the bullet serves as a perfect introduction to the film that follows an illegal arms dealer and his life in the world of international arms trafficking.


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