By Alexander Böhnke and Rembert Hüser
Vorspann / Abspann, titles, main titles, end titles, title sequence, credits, générique. The different names for the field that we want to present correspond to different aspects of the object. In German it is called ‘Vorspann’ or ‘Abspann' and thus emphasizes the positioning of this form in the film, its framing function. ‘Vorspann’ is a film in itself and not. Générique, on the other hand, points to the same place as the writing of the ‘Vorspann’: the place of origin, i.e. the production. The English word 'credits', with the distinction of person and role resp. function, also refers to something outside of the film. 'Titles' means, in the first place, generally a script in the film¾so also subtitles or intertitles - and thus focuses on a frequently excluded expression of the film. The title sequence, however, is not to be reduced to the use of writing. In the recombination of photographic images, sound, music, spoken language, the use of optical, resp. digital image processing, and writing, the opening credits prove to be a complex cinematic form.
The English word 'title' also means¾as well as in German¾legal claim. Thus, the first function of the title was an economic one. In 1897, Thomas Edison (with a view to the American property right) added his own films with a title, company name, and copyright notice. The emergence of the first illegal copies will greatly improve the design of the company titles and trademarks in the following years. The economy promotes, pushes the aesthetics. In 1911, Edison extended his opening credits with a panel showing the cast of the film, and the screenplay author was integrated into the opening credits a year later. Edison hoped to move famous authors to work on the film and to prevent plagiarism. In this context, the opening credits are of interest to us as a place of heterogeneous functions: he documents the production of the film, introduces the viewer into the diegesis and controls the reception of the film. Not in the least because of his reflexive nature, the tension between production and fiction, the prelude is the place of an alternative conception of the cinematic, the narrative condensation techniques combined with an intense reading of the following film.