I once got to hear Saul Bass speak and share his process and thoughts on designing film titles. It was a huge highlight for me as a designer. For those that know Bass’ work, the Star Wars vs. Saul Bass video I’ve embedded here will give you a good chuckle. Obviously it’s not by Saul himself, but like any good spoof it’s soooo spot on. And it’s based a bit on the graphic style of Bass’ work for Anatomy of a Murder.
Perhaps you’ve seen Bass’ work in a Hitchcock movie? Psycho (1960) and North By Northwest both have title sequences that make me swoon. Two other Bass classics are the titles for Around the World in 80 Days and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, where Bass channels his inner cartoonist as well as his brilliant design sense. The title sequence and the end credits for West Side Story are based on simple (but visually different) design concepts that let the music truly do the talking. Next time I need an infusion of creativity, I’m going to make a note to watch these two portions of this film (which of course is one of my all-time favorites!). If you need more evidence check out Grand Prix. I was blown away when Mr. Bass showed it on a large screen at the seminar I attended. The visuals certainly spoke for themselves, but as a design student I hung on every word this guy said. I mean where else could I hear the story of creating the titles for Cape Fear (Bass did titles for both the original and the remake), which included a picture of some highway signage from the North Carolina DOT, and a litter pan filled with water. Isn’t the creative mind a beautiful thing?
If I’ve really got you interested, check out this site which urges you to “Forget the film, watch the titles.” Enjoy!