Every so often, a film comes out whose film titles don’t just deliver the content flatly, or look really cool for 10 seconds and then become dull, but instead bring life, depth, and entertainment to the opening. And in some rare cases, they meet or exceed the quality and ingenuity of the film itself. I would argue that the titles for Lemony Snicket do just that.
As I mentioned in my last post on this flick, I haven’t read the books. However, the wry, morbid, Victorian-ish atmosphere that the movie pushes is clearly an important part of the telling, regardless of medium. But this mood is also colored with a tinge of wonder and mysterious delight, and this is where the titles succeed brilliantly and the film trades off for Carey’s antics (which are great, but seem to have displaced some of the book’s content and personality). In fact, the titles tell a portion of the tale all on their own, and they do it with such a gorgeous, dark, ornate elegance that I wanted them to actually tell the whole tale. Additionally, the end credits also receive this treatment, giving them a life and attractiveness that’s usually wholly absent from the endless lists of ’gang masters’ and ’key grips’ and ’assistants to the assistants of’.
Before we get into the sequence itself, I’d also like to applaud Jamie Caliri and Axiom Design for not only the credits as a whole, but also the decision to go with Emigre’s beautiful and angular serif family Vendetta and Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ architectural geometric sans serif Gotham. They fit in perfectly with the visual theme and don’t suffer from cartoonish typographic caricature. Both avoid the pitfalls of ’creepy’ or ’scary’ fonts that demand more stage presence than they deserve, which allows the superb animation and art to guide the piece.
Alright, now I’ll let them speak for themselves.
I’d also like to point out how amazing the music is in the opening credits sequence. It’s a mysterious, dark, and yet lively score that is pitch-perfect for the visuals. It’s also not performed by a traditional orchestra, which made it even more intriguing. I would really, really like to find a copy of this song. I’m not sure if it’s on the official score they released.
If you’d like to see more of the work that Axiom Design did for the film and its promotion, check it out here. They also did work on Tim Burton’s recent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.