Here’s something different. There’s a flickr pool out there called The End, which collects all the end title screens from about 500 different films. Many of these are by necessity classic ones, since most modern films don’t often feature such a firm close–it went out of style, likely seen as a formal holdover from literature, from a time when films still weren’t accepted as a valid art form unto themselves.
Some filmmakers still use the device, of course, but it’s largely ironic. Last year’s great Ratatouille, for example, used it, but it was the famous French ‘fin’, which suited the movie perfectly, while standing out more as a nod to Paris and the idea of french-ness than any kind of homage to a filmmaking tradition.
There’s something about seeing all these titles in one place–it’s like repeating a favourite word over and over again until it loses its original meaning, and then suddenly ‘The End’ seems an entirely strange thing to say at the end of a film, too unnatural, overly obvious–a world of typographic artifacts we didn’t know existed until the strange ways of the internet brought them to us.
The end screen of The Man With the Golden Arm, done by Saul Bass, is a true classic (although it does make me think of Anatomy of a Murder, also done by him), and anyone interested in one of the most unique and talented film titlers and illustrators of the 20th century would do well to find some of his work. For anyone interested in typography, he was simply the best title designer around, and could do wondrous things with minimalistic animation and good type: just look at these examples plus some classic title videos below.
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