Visual Review 7: Title Sequence

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) has an incredibly visually interesting title sequence. The Swedish film, directed by David Fincher and Tim Miller, covers various dark topics from the angle of a dramatic mystery. The title sequence manages to touch on many overall themes of the movie, while concurrently setting a continuous and flowing tone of violence, struggle, and conflict.

The film focuses on the story of a rebellious female hacker with a rough and painful past, and her various pathways to vengeance. The main running themes and visual trends of the film include feminism, sexual assault, abuse, violence, technology, fire, and leather. The title sequence manages to give the audience a hint of every major concept while being nearly monochromatic throughout, and continuously cutting to different shots. Despite the continuous sharp cuts, the sequence maintains a running sense of fluidity and interconnectedness.

The font featured for the credits was created by Neil Kellerhouse specifically for the film. The font creates a nice contrast to the intensity of the sequence through its fairly delicate yet sharp style, as well as the grey-white color of it over the incredibly dark sequence. It also manages to not distract from the scenes at all by being stationary and to the left or right of the screen every time the text appears. Additionally, the font is an homage to the style original typography of the novel that the film is based off.

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Text credits in the sequence

 

The sequence mainly features a viscous liquid flowing from cut to cut and surface to surface, with a female cover of “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin as the title sequence song. The fluid takes on a life of its own as the dominant feature of the sequence, with nearly the entire color scheme of the sequence coming from the metallic greenish-black substance, which goes on to envelop and blend over every object or person in much of the sequence. This creates intricately captivating textures and reflections of minimal lighting, while also enabling the sequence to foreshadow the contents of the film.

 

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Liquid going over what is assumed to be a leather surface

The sequence develops tone, a fractured narrative, and tone by incorporating technology, violence, and fire in a visually innovative style. The main character, Lisbeth, is a hacker and uses technology to empower herself and to ruin those who have wronged her. This is shown in a series of cables and wires tangling in on themselves and twisting in a life-like, almost possessed manner. Violence is directly incorporated via scenes of bondage, hands struggling and gripping at air and each other, and direct fist-to-face up close contact. Fire is a huge component of Lisbeth and her backstory, and it is incorporated through the lighting of a match in intense detail, and a large enveloping flame coming from it.

This title sequence is one of the most memorable, visually engaging ones that I have seen. In fact, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was the first film that came to mind when I saw the assignment. It does an amazing job of both being a well-composed introduction to the film that follows and a standalone visual composition with its own narrative and tonality.

 

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