So It Begins – Thank You For Smoking
February 6, 2012 2 Comments
It has been too long since I originally started this article series and true to my word I will continue doing what I have grown to love doing, posting about movies. While I talked about how the opening title sequence of a film can incorporate a story in the intro of a film with Lord of War, I was inspired to write about this particular opening after watching the film again several weeks back.
Thank You for Smoking, which I reviewed here, was one of my favorite film of the 2000′s and an excellent adaptation (with some changes of course) of Christopher Buckley’s novel from 1994. It’s movie that isn’t really for or against tobacco, but rather it leaves the decision up to the audience to determine that. Rather the movie and novel is a story about a lobbyist for Big Tobacco and how he has found something he is good at. It is also, at it’s heart, a satirical look at how anyone, well smooth talkers, can sell you on the benefits of a dangerous product, but it is really about your decision to buy into it or not.
One of the things I love about this movie other than the cast and story, is the opening sequence. For me it is one of the more inventive title sequences that uses the medium of cigarette packages to introduce the major players, but also set the tone of the film with a catchy song that puts a smile on your face. You know, just take a look at the opening after the jump.
The use of cigarette packages has an elegant and simple feel to the movie. Kind of harkening back to the time when it was all good times and careless smoking which made the tobacco industry thrive. The elaborate title cards and packages all have a certain feel with character of the movie. Nick Naylor gets the fanciest card since he is the focus of the film, and also, as the movie described him, the “king of spin”. Other characters get a little more downplayed cards, either because of their role or their personality. Take the Maria Bello title card, her card has grapes as the emblem which is appropriate for her since she is the lobbyist for alcohol. Little touches like that add some personality to the opening.
It’s a fun spin on the typical title sequence where you just see the names flash across the screen and it is here and gone. The cigarette packages from decades back were vibrant and eye-catching since you had to make your product standout a bit more. But while selling the cool sophistication of smoking to the masses, the packages also reflect that feel. Elegant designs, catchy slogans and even their claim to fame are all little touches that went into the title sequence. Couple those images with a catchy Tex Williams song and you got a memorable title sequence. It doesn’t need to tell a story, but rather it needs to setup the story, either the look or feel.
I hope this look at the title sequence of Thank You For Smoking was enjoyable, not enough to have a smoke mind you unless that is you thing, but I hope that it gets you to appreciate the work that goes into the often overlooked art of the opening title sequence. To close, here is Tex Williams singing a little tune for you.