Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Movie Title Sequence: Total Recall

“If I am not me, then who the hell am I?” — Douglas Quaid

With today’s opening of Len Wiseman’s remake to one of the all-time best, and bloodiest, science-fiction actioners around, I thought to look back at one of the supreme aspects that made the original so damn good. The opening credits for Total Recall remains one of the best titles sequences of the 90s — the same goes for Jerry Goldsmith’s title tune, known as The Dream on the movie’s soundtrack, for that matter.

The 1990 Paul Verhoeven film featured some of the best in cascading graphics for its opening credits. I get the sense that title designer Wayne Fitzgerald sported some influence from years earlier with Richard Greenberg’s [thanks for the correction, Art of the Title :-)] still awe-inspiring sequence from Superman (1978). No matter, since the tone and sentiment of these particular visuals are demonstrably different.

They certainly can’t be depicted as understated since the translucent titles are literally driven (perhaps, the word pounded would be more apt) to the pulsing beat of Jerry Goldsmith’s larger-than-life track. As well, I give Fitzgerald credit for his superb use of contrast in the segment.

The gauzy and plunging artwork beautifully opposed the deep blacks of the background and those within the text and font of the titles themselves. It remains a stunning package. The title sequence married all of this into a feast for the eyes and ears of moviegoers. Note, it is worth the trip over to the good folks at The Art of the Title who also have this sequence online for those who want to enjoy it in high resolution:

Total Recall (1990) — Art of the Title

Now, let’s all hope the 2012 film contains even a smidgen of the cleverness, or at least a touch of the brain scrambling madness, that was the original.

15 Responses to “Movie Title Sequence: Total Recall”

  1. The Focused Filmographer

    I hope today’s viewing of the remake of recall doesn’t disappoint me. I have a feeling it will…

    I can’t say I enjoyed the opening graphics of the title sequence as much as you, but I did enjoy the sense of nostalgia it brings up as it plays. Some great films came out in the 90s. Here’s to hoping that some of them stay in the 90s and dont’ resurface as horrific remakes!

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    • le0pard13

      I look forward to your review, T. Yes, for the most part, modern movie remakes pale against the origin. Too many examples of that. Still, sometimes you’ll find the rare one that offers a worthy update. Thanks for the comment, my friend.

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  2. Ted S.

    I love this opening sequence and yes Jerry’s score made it even greater. It always bring me back to my early teen years when I first saw the film.

    I was hoping the remake would get some descent reviews but currently it’s at 30% on Rottentomatoes, so I’ll just rent it on BD.

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    • le0pard13

      It’s a great one, alright. I’m a long-time fan of Jerry Goldsmith’s score, so this was right up my alley.

      I saw the remake, and Colin and Kate’s performances made very watchable. I’m sure those who’ve not seen the original will get a kick out of it. It doesn’t really touch Verhoeven’s muscular film, but I don’t think the remake should be rated that low. Thanks for jumping in this, Ted. I appreciate the comment.

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  3. mummbles

    I forgot about the cool credits here. I am eager to see the remake although I feel it may not live up to the original in many ways.

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    • le0pard13

      These are a very cool set of movie titles. I saw and enjoyed the remake, mummbles. Of course, I kept the perspective that, with today’s studios, it wasn’t going as daring as Verhoeven’s film. Thanks, my friend.

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  4. John DuMond

    Definitely a great opening, sets the tone for the movie beautifully.

    “…one of the all-time best, and bloodiest, science-fiction actioners around…”

    That’s a bold statement. And one I happen to agree with. With Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon adapting the story and Paul Verhoeven directing, this movies action bonafides are beyond question. Great choice.

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    • le0pard13

      Without question, this was one of the best films that film, and that decade. Few were as daring as this one. Many thanks for the comment, John.

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  5. Jamie Helton

    Interesting title sequence. Is it my imagination, or does the music bear a resemblance to the score of “The Terminator”? If you want amazing opening sequences, Tim Burton’s films always rise to the challenge, even among his lesser films. Great titles is a somewhat lost art, as most films prefer to have boring credits, and some even forgo opening titles altogether.

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    • le0pard13

      Good catch, Jamie! Yeah, Brad Fiedel’s driving rhythm from the Terminator score and Jerry Goldsmith’s do have a musical semblance. I wholeheartedly agree about Tim Burton’s films and their title sequences. They’re never like some of the boring titles we’re getting of late. BTW, one of the things that really paled with Wiseman’s remake is just that, almost no movie titles. It’s a shame many don’t bother with it. Thanks, my friend.

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  6. hank_stamper

    It is interesting to note that this sequence was conceived and executed in the photo-mechanical age before the digital age made something like this fairly easy. It incorporated a technique called slit scan. There are no pick-up points within the title. It had to be shot as a continuous scene over several days. One goof and it was a complete do-over. Drove the cameraman at Cinema Research crazy.

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    • le0pard13

      Great info, Hank. Yeah, the days before digital was an age of sheer craft (even if it drove some crazy to get things done). Thanks so very much for sharing that here with a comment.

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