In my opinion, Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg 1998) is the single greatest war movie ever made. I have seen it hundreds of times and no matter what I am completely immersed in the symbolic details that I no longer can miss. This movie brings together the destruction and heartbreak of WWII with the humbleness of family and brotherhood. To me, family and brotherhood mixed with an 80s hit song can lead to an incredible sitcom title sequence.
Within the first week after getting the assignment, I hadn’t yet come up with what movie I wanted to redo, but I knew I wanted to create a title sequence. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, sitcom intros were a chance for the character to meet the audience. I say that because nowadays, sitcom intros are to introduce the show, not the characters. The purpose of a sitcom is to allow the viewer to relax and immerse him or herself in a show for half an hour. With the small window given to the intro, the introduction for the characters is very slim but it allows for the audience to meet them individually. According to the sitcom pattern of the 1980s, the character would be talking to someone or doing something and right as their name would come up on the screen, they would stop what they were doing and look at the camera. This indicated to me as the viewer that this was who they were and why I should embrace his, or her, story. Each sequence is almost repetitive: start with the character, cut to them in action and end with a close up of their face. This allows the viewer to portray the character as the director intends. The close shots, according to Bernard Dick, reveal the emotion that the character is feeling and I included them in the hopes of, with the short amount of time I’ve been given, to allow the viewer to meet the character and become comfortable enough to give the next thirty minutes to.
“Immersion criticism,” or “an inflexible, clandestine reality that matters way more than anything else,” according to Chuck Klosterman, allowed me to fully embrace my intro. I successfully found a way to change the genre of an Oscar winning movie and give the possibility that this, in an alternate reality, could happen. Because I followed the steps of the [self named] 1980s Steps to Intro Greatness, I felt as though I was in control of its own destiny. My sequence starts as the troops were walking together, introducing its brotherhood. I then singled out each actor in the order I felt was most fitting, giving him his own specific individual shot, then brought them back together in a comedic manner as a group close up, and again in the next cut with them far away. I used this long shot to show the enormity of the Last Great War and how eight men are trying to make a difference in it.
Thomas Sobchack writes in “Genre Film: A Classical Experience,” that the category of film relies on the subject matter, theme and techniques. I used techniques found often in sitcom trailers and I created a possible story that that I hope is portrayed as a combination of a female-less Friends, with a more comedic, up- to- date, MASH. Throughout the trailer, I tried to symbolize how the war could be portrayed in a comedic manner. Without using voice, or even sound, I sped up the comprehension of the plot of my sitcom and, given the music I used and the type scrolling across the screen, I aimed for a specific type of show to be portrayed. On the contrary, if the music were to be solemn with the typeface in a less noticeable font, while changing the song, the show would have been portrayed more as a drama than as an up-beat comedy.
Lastly, and most importantly, my favorite part of the intro sequence was the ending. I included this because I have found that good sequences rely on something that can be remembered and said while it happens. In The Big Bang Theory, the audience sings the beginning of the title sequence song, “Our whole universe was in a hot dense state, then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait…” Also with, “Are You Ready Kids? AYY AYY captain,” in SpongeBob SquarePants and the “BUM BUM” of Law and Order. In addition, as they were walking through Northern France, with the sounds of war in the background, they discuss the acronym FUBAR. Which unknown to Private Upom (Jeremy Davies) at the time, refers to a situation or duty that needs to be carried out, or something that has unexplainably been done to someone. FUBAR stands for f*cked up beyond all recognition and to those in the squad at the beginning of the mission, this is how they portrayed it to be. “Even if you think the mission is FUBAR Sir? Especially if you think the mission is FUBAR.” During an episode of FUBAR, this term can be used in any situation, at any time, referring to anyone.
I enjoyed doing this project immensely. To anyone attempting this in the future, I would tell them to find a friend to do it with. Having a group of people in the room always allowed for ideas to be bounced of each other and also allowed for tips and techniques to be traded. Was anything difficult or was I frustrated at all? I would have to say no. The way you taught us the information Dr. Delwiche, along with the email chain, helped with the entire process. I have to step back and tell myself that I created something that has never been done before and for that I am thankful for every step of the process.
Sobchack, T., & Sobchack, V. C. (1980). An introduction to film. Boston: Little, Brown.
Chuck Klosterman (2012) “What’s Behind Room 237?” Grantland. October 17.
“From the Green Berets to America’s Army: Video Games as a Vehicle for Political Propoganda” from Williams, J.P., & Smith, J. H. (2007). The Player’s Realm: Studies on the Culture of Video Games and Gaming. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.
Dick, B. F. (2005). Anatomy of film. Boston, Mass: Bedford St. Martins.
Danesi, M., & Danesi, M. (2004). Messages, signs, and meanings: A basic textbook in semiotics and communication. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.