Author Pat Kirkham discusses the opening titles for Attack, from her authoritative book Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design.
For this title sequence, Saul created a montage of off-duty soldiers relaxing in a near-deserted Belgian village during World War II. It cuts in after a dramatic live-action opening in which sixteen men are slaughtered. The segue to the titles features the helmet of a dead soldier rolling down a hill. It stops at a spot where a solitary daffodil grows and fades neatly into the circular mouth of a loudspeaker broadcasting swing music.
Saul's stylish sequence uses the beat to focus on close-ups of men walking, eating, stamping their feet, sitting on steps and warming their hands over a brazier. The sequence closes with the same circular form of a loudspeaker, from which a woman's voice from Armed Services Radio announces, “That's all for today fellas goodbye.”
The release of Attack was announced in the Hollywood Reporter in an unprecedented ten-page advertisement designed by Saul, which itself reads as a moving sequence. Each double-page spread features the same blood-red still with men in combat gear moving across the frame, while the credits unfold in clear type within bullet-like white circles.
Pat Kirkham is Professor in the History of Design, Decorative Arts and Culture at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design & Culture, New York. She has written and edited a number of books, including Charles and Ray Eames (1998) and Women Designers in the USA 1900–2000 (2001).
©2011 Laurence King Publishing Ltd. Used with permission.
Titles Designed by: Saul Bass
Music by: Frank De Vol
Discover more Saul Bass
SAUL BASS: A LIFE IN FILM AND DESIGN
By Jennifer Bass and Pat Kirkham