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Saul Bass title design for Grand Prix

by Critical Commons Manager

Multiple split screens and densely layered soundtracks characterize both the title design sequences and racing action sequences throughout John Frankenheimer's Grand Prix. These scenes were designed by legendary motion graphics artist and animator Saul Bass to heighten the dramatic tensions of grand prix racing, allowing the simultaneous presentation of multiple points of view and simultaneous actions by drivers on the race track and among spectators. How does the simultaneity and multiplicity of images in these sequence serve the film's narrative goals?


by Carter Nicholas

After "North by Northwest" titles for Hitchcock, the split screen Bass exploits so well here does recall his use of the elevation of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's Lever House for a dynamic grid, serving also as a skin. It is deeper in the film where this technique reaches its deeply unforgettable value, in racing imagery backgrounded by the second movement of Mozart's 17th piano concerto. The dance of lightness, speed and danger drew the senses into a flight of elegance.

Opening title sequence for John Frankenheimer's Grand Prix

Saul Bass used live action and split screens for narrative exposition and suspense

from Grand Prix (1966)
Creator: Saul Bass
Posted by Critical Commons Manager