The opening crawl has been an integral component of the Star Wars movie-watching experience from the very beginning, helping audiences jump right into the story while also being roused by John Williams’ iconic score. Of course, those who have seen the latest film in the franchise, Rogue One, know that it has no opening crawl — a deliberate move by Disney to differentiate their Anthology series from the Skywalker Saga, of which each of the seven previous Star Wars films have been a part. While most fans seemed to have grudgingly accept this creative choice, the man who spent months laboring over the original crawl for 1977’s Star Wars doesn’t agree with the decision.
“Frankly, it’s a huge mistake, because the image is so iconic and it’s so important to tens of millions, hundreds of millions of fans,” title designer Dan Perri tells Heat Vision. “I couldn’t imagine it starting without that. It’s foolish.”
The argument put forth by the filmmakers behind Rogue One is that the film doesn’t require an opening crawl because it’s story actually derives from the original crawl Perri created. For the record, Perri admits that he has not seen Rogue One or any Star Wars film since the original (“There are too many things to do and there are too many films out there to see,” he explains).
Perri, who has designed title sequences for dozens of other films including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Airplane, had to work hard to attain George Lucas’ stamp of approval for his original opening crawl. Only a few months prior to the film’s May 1977 release date, Lucas was under a lot of pressure to complete the film and Perri would have to frequently drive to the director’s Van Nuys office and wait around for hours for Lucas to spare a few minutes to look at his designs, only to continually reject them. At the time, neither Perri or anyone at 20th Century Fox for that matter had any idea how successful the film would be.
“I had no idea what he was doing, so it was just this stupid space film. I didn’t think anything of it,” says Perri. “Everything I showed him, he didn’t like. So I was constantly going out there with new ideas and he would tell me to look at certain films. The Buck Rogers films and all the serials from the 30s that he was using for inspiration.”
Perri finally got the idea for what would become the opening crawl after watching the 1939 film Union Pacific.
“He liked the idea, but then I had to start shooting and testing and setting type. I went through 20 or 30 or 40 different type styles before I settled on one. Once we did that, I shot tests for weeks and weeks and weeks,” says Perri. “It was all on film. You shoot a test on black and white film and then it had to be developed the next day or late that day. I’d rush out to Van Nuys with it and wait for him for hours to show it to him and he never liked it, and it just went on and on and on.”
Eventually, Lucas accepted and the rest was history.
“He accepted it and they cut it in. By then, it was only maybe a month before the release,” says Perri. “The day I delivered it, it was such a relief to drive away from there knowing, ‘Wow, it’s done finally.’ ”
“When I think back on it, it wasn’t fun,” Perri says of his time on Star Wars. “It was a difficult project, but I’m happy with the results.”
Do you think Rogue One should have kept the opening crawl or was it the right decision to try and differentiate the film from the Skywalker Saga by having a cold open instead?
(Via: The Hollywood Reporter)