It's time to dust off a forgotten series. It's been a while since we've done a Credits Report, but after being reminded of one of my favorite sequences the other night, I figured it was high time to revisit the theme.
One of the most powerful ways to introduce an audience to the characters and world of a film is through the opening sequence. It can allow for more artistry than might be present through the rest of the feature. It can play who's who, and most importantly, set the tone for the story to come. For the most part, we seem to be drawn to the epic sequences, the ones that are stunning, exciting, and jaw-dropping, but often, the best are the most simple, the ones that make the most of the credits opportunity and do it without any bling.
It was that way for Harold and Maude, and the same can be said for today's pick, The Safety of Objects.
Rose Troche's film details the struggles four neighboring families face in one suburb. Its a cast absolutely overflowing with talent including Glenn Close, Joshua Jackson, Timothy Olyphant, Dermot Mulroney, Kristen Stewart, Mary Kay Place, Patricia Clarkson, Moira Kelly, Jessica Campbell, and Robert Klein, and the opening sequence strives to help viewers keep each family straight, while also evoking a tone and theme for the piece. The camera -- quite simply -- pans from a black background to each house, a white dollhouse-like object where each family -- represented by rigid, white figurines -- pours out. It seems like nothing more than a simple and clever way to introduce all the characters, and start helping the audience keep the families straight. But subtly, it offers a whole lot more.
As we're introduced to The Golds, The Trains, The Christiansons, and The Jennings, the order that they appear, the speed at which they come out the doors, and how they finally stand all teases at what's to come. For example, Daughter Gold comes out after her brother, because she lives in his shadow, and Mother Christianson's figure is turned just so, so that she's far from her kids, and cold-shouldering her husband.
But there's another level. These are dollhouses, and the families look like toys. It not only links to some of the themes of play in the film, but also to a sense of God. Mother Gold, at one point, warns about specificity when it comes to asking favors from God, because God has a wicked sense of humor and could give you exactly what you want, which could be very far from your actual intention. Each person and family are pawns, play pieces -- not only in this dynamic of Earth and God, but also as people feeling out of control, where their actions rarely lead to their intended effect.
Check it out for yourself, below. The sequence begins at roughly 3:30.