How Saul Bass changed film title sequences (VIDEO).

How Movie Title Sequences Became a “Short Version of the Film You’re About to Watch”

How Movie Title Sequences Became a “Short Version of the Film You’re About to Watch”

Slate in motion.
Nov. 30 2016 7:06 AM

How Saul Bass Changed Film Title Sequences

His colorful, modernist designs revolutionized how movies began.

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Screenshot via Slate

Starting in the 1950s, Saul Bass revolutionized the film title sequence. Before that, such sequences were usually dull affairs, designed to get the job done. To Bass, they were art in and of themselves.

You will recognize Bass’ modernist work from Vertigo, North by Northwest, and other films from the ’50s and ’60s. This short film from Andrew Saladino and the Royal Ocean Film Society presents Bass’ philosophy: “What you’re seeing is actually a short version of the film you’re about to watch, almost always broken down to one or two simple visualized ideas,” Saladino narrates. Bass thought way outside the box, like when he designed a sequence with a hand ripping the screen as if it were paper. Bass also loved minimalism and primary colors.

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Next time you notice some particularly creative titles, this short documentary will help you remember who to thank.

Madeline Raynor is a Slate freelance video blogger.