Crash (Opening Credits) Review (Cronenberg)

Discussion in 'Reader Reviews' started by dwatts, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. dwatts

    dwatts Active Member

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    Apparently, someone is making another movie called Crash. Different story, with Sandra Bullock! For shame, for shame. Onebyone mentioned that she had seen me post in a thread on Crash, and was disappointed at what she found as the topic (damn right!)

    So... for onebyone, I am spurred to write about my favorite film. And where else to start than to draft out my initial thoughts regarding the title sequence. Insane? Over doing it? Reading too much into it? Oh, I don't think so.

    I've always found it a bit strange when someone becomes (somewhat) obsessive about a film. I guess I felt that way until a film came along that had such resonance with me, that affected me so acutely, that I couldn't ignore it. Crash is the perfect film..... for me. Most don't share my love affair with Crash - which is totally cool. If the thought of discussing a title sequence - and ONLY a title sequence - strikes you as ludicrous, then you might want to bail out right now. For those that think a "readers Review" section has reached an all time low when the film itself gets no coverage, then best close that browser window right away. Because we're entering the world of Crash........

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    David Cronenberg has said that his credit sequences are an integral part of his movies. They are, within themselves, an artistic statement. As well as this, he has said that he has a responsibility to ease people from the real world - the world they are leaving as they enter the film theater - into his own cinematic world. The credit sequence fulfills this important task.

    Perhaps no credit sequence in a Cronenberg film is as pointed and illustrative as the opening of Crash, his adaptation of JG Ballard's novel. In Crash, Cronenberg leads you through story elements, ideas, and concepts from the movie you are about to experience. Within what appears to be simply blues, whites, and silver, with no images at all, he is laying out the tale before us.

    In other words, the title sequence for Crash is good enough to be viewed as a short, even apart from the main feature. As I just have done, three times before putting fingers to the keyboard.

    Night and Day, Dark and Light

    Crash is a dark film, about dark things. It presents us with people who apparently have everything they could possibly want, and yet are unsatisfied. The days of the main characters are spent in jobs that are really excuses for liaisons, for sexual acts so they can FEEL something. Their nights together are spent sharing their daylight exploits, distorting them, exaggerating them, feeding each other with their desires. Yet they are desires never quenched. There is a vacancy in their lives, in their souls. This feeling of space, or emptiness, is exactly what is portrayed in the barren title credit sequence. Cronenberg is careful to give us now images. We are entering a world with no rules, no raised expectations.

    Of course, Crash is also about cars. The title sequence of Crash is drenched in the artistry of the car. Among these are two elements, the headlights which illuminate the darkness, and the beauty of the chrome work (the road, traffic, and the accident are discussed in later sections of this review, but note they are there also).

    The title sequence opens to a screen that is dark blue, the blue of night. This darkness is illuminated by headlights, which pan across the screen. As the light pierces the darkness, we see the credits - oncoming. The credits eventually fade to black.

    Rather than simply being a technique of lighting the credits so we can read them, in the context of the movie we are about to see, we are introduced to main story elements. Namely, we are introduced to the illumination of dark thoughts and feelings, and we are shown how the car is to be the vehicle for this message - that the car is in fact, an uncredited character within the film. We are also given a sense of movement, as the credits scroll toward us out of the light, and the "now you see it, now you don't" emotions, and the mysteries of the potential accident (has anyone ever been driving down a dark road, and turned off their headlights for a thrill?) In the case here, when the lights go on, off, and on again, what we once saw has been replaced with something else.

    However, it is important to note that only for brief moments do we catch sight of a credit, as the headlights pan. At the crucial moment when it is about to fill the screen, the credit is bathed again in darkness. We lose sight of it. Will we hit it head on, or not? The next illumination shows another credit, our opportunity to experience things again.

    The very format of this sequence then, is laying out the story we are about to be told. It is covering story elements that would be difficult to show dramatically, but as a work of art (painting, sculpture, animated credit sequence), can be done abstractly. We see things, we lose sight of them, light illuminates, but it is passing, cars lead us, but can abandon us.

    Still, the message of the title sequence is not over yet. Cronenberg has varied it somewhat, and he has more to show us.

    The first break in this sequence is with the film title, "Crash". The film title appears in the same fashion. Car headlights, like search lights panning the horizon for detail, pick up the title credit. The credit moves toward us and the lights pan blackening the screen. When the next set of lights appear, we are faced - unlike previously - with the word "Crash" still coming toward us. In fact, we must pass through it in order to proceed as it fills the screen and moves on. We have entered the world of Crash.

    Once the main characters have been introduced, Cronenberg wants us to fully begin the journey into his vision. The final credit in the aforementioned format is that of Rosanne Arquette. After that, off in the distance, we see a long sweep of road. On the road, as traffic, are the remaining credits. We travel down this road, as the credits roll toward us languidly, almost in a dreamlike state. We are drivers before we ever get into this film, or at the very least, willing passengers.

    Lest we fail to see it, the nature of the credit text itself is significant. It appears to be fashioned from chrome. Within the main body of the film we will be faced with several significant shots of chrome, both new and damaged. We will see characters caress the chrome, run their hands across it, admire it. Within this opening title sequence, we too are lured into paying the chrome attention, as something quite apart from the vehicles to which we usually associate it.

    Further, the chrome used for the titles is imperfect. If we look at it in detail, we see several pieces of it are dented, scratched. It does not reflect the light uniformly. Of course, this speaks directly to the nature of the car, and the chrome on that car, within the film itself. Chrome, new shiny chrome, is obviously something to be admired as part of a car (its pristine nature is what most of us would enjoy). However, damaged chrome has a history, a story to tell. And it's no less beautiful. Each character, and in this case each person that was part of this production, it thereby touched by the car, and car accident.

    For the final significant aspect of the title sequence, we must go back to the passing of the film title, "Crash". As it passes off the screen, as already mentioned, we must pass THROUGH the text. More specifically, we must pass through the letter "A". As drawn, the A appears much as the car insignia on Ballard's car appears in the film itself.

    The car insignia on Ballard's car is hugely important, as it figures into the main body of the story. In the movie, Ballard's relationship with the car, and the car crash, begins (during) and after his own accident. In this accident, the driver of the car he hits flies through his own windshield, crashing through that of Ballard's car, landing in the passenger seat. As Ballard looks across at this bizarre sight, we see that the victims hand has impacted with the car insignia, and that the insignia now shows as a swelling on the victims hand.

    As an audience, we have already plunged through into Crash, and we have done so through that bent chrome of the title, that letter "A".

    The insignia appears later in the film, also. It is tattooed onto Vaughan's chest, which itself figures into a homosexual liaison between the two men. Is Ballard making love with Vaughan, or with the victim of his accident, who bore the same scaring, who led him into this new world of experiences?

    Of course, talking about the title sequence without mentioning the music is disingenuous. On the other hand, if I spend too much time on it here, then there will be less to say at a later date, which might appear to be dismissive of its significant contribution. Suffice it to say, Howard Shore wrote his best work for Crash, and the music is an intrinsic part of this film. The credit sequence benefits from its atonal space, the way it breathes, comes and goes. It's obtuse melody.

    Oh, but that's something for another day..... ;)

    And if you think I have lost my mind.... well, I've awakened now, and shall return to normal transmissions :)
     
  2. onebyone

    onebyone Guest

    So I was an accidental inspiration for dwatts to write on one of my favorite movies? I am honored.

    Thanks to this review; I enjoyed it. I have been watching the opening sequence as a short for today because of it. (I never would have done this without you so thanks a lot.) Although I have watched the credits several times and thought they were effective in setting the tone for the world of Crash, I never thought about it in the terms you noted. I feel like I learned something about my movie today via dwatts.

    As I can't add anything on this you didn't already speak of as you opened my mind on the subject, I will make a small comment on the music, especially that used in the opening. I always thought that it was perfect, in that it suggests a slow, painful yearning for something, a yearning that is perhaps starting to take over one's life even if you haven't quite figured it out yet. The music is so subtle, but so complex in what it intones. Also, it manages to be both very beautiful and scary, which of course is what Cronenberg and this movie is all about.

    Ok, now you write something on that too, because you could do it much more justice than I.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2005
  3. dwatts

    dwatts Active Member

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    Not at all. Members of HorrorDVD might not like the movie. I can live with that. The mainstream might not like the movie, I can deal with that. But when Sandra Bullock is in a film called "Crash" with the possibility of pushing Crash farther back in peoples minds, one has to draw the line :D

    As for the music, writing something is tempting. Who knows if I'll get to it? Surely much could be written about it? Do you have the soundtrack CD? It's really quite wonderful.

    The way to approach such a thing is to put together an outline and then fill it out. Given I have the basis for a nice little article on the title sequence here, it might be too long for Horror DVD :D

    And hey, no-one posted saying it was stupid to write only on the title sequence. Wonders will never cease :)

    Now, seriously - the credit sequence CAN be seen as a standalone portion of the movie. Although, I can't help thinking their is a silent set of voices saying: "Get a life".
     
  4. The Chaostar

    The Chaostar Johnny Hallyday forever

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    Of course! Look at all those Pink Panther films.
     
  5. Mok

    Mok Family is Forever

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    Nice review and I admire your passion for that film. I also like the opening credits to Star Wars ;)
     
  6. dwatts

    dwatts Active Member

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    Thank you, Mok. Maybe we should hear more about opening sequences. I watched Cormans "Pit and the Pendulum" the other night, and the opening to that is rather surreal. Swirling colors, and the strangest music.
     

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