The Number 23


The film I watched was The Number 23 based on a man, Walter Sparrow, who comes upon a book which reflects the title of the film and through reading it, becomes obsessed with the number 23. He starts to see it in all aspects of his life and it eventually drives him mad, makes him regain lost memories, and urges him to kill himself and others. The first notable element of the title sequence is the font used, in this case it is a faded courier type font. The film is based off of a book which uses the same font so the usage is fitting. After rewatching the sequence a few times it becomes noticeable that the background is a book page and you can faintly see the words from the next page. The grain of the paper and the opacity of the paper provides texture and adds depth to the scene along with the later usage of fingerprints and smudges. The style is similar to an old file from a criminal case because of the yellowed background and the fading of some text which becomes relevant later in the film. It lets the viewer know that this movie is most likely a horror or crime and mystery based.

When the actual title is shown it appears in the same font but in what looks to be fresh ink and in blood red, it then smears and transitions to the next frame. The transition between frames in the beginning is an erratic flash that quickly shows the number 23 repeated across the page in seemingly random positions. Because of the repetition of the number it lets the viewer know it will be an important aspect of the movie but not giving away why or how. There is a pattern with how numbers are brought in so it shows intention while primarily looking arbitrary. At some points, when there is a name, numbers flash in for letters before it becomes the actual letter.

Throughout the sequence, there are a lot of far-fetched examples of how the number 23 is found such as the Hiroshima bomb being dropped on August 6, 1945, 8+6+1+9+4+5=23 or Julius Caesar was stabbed a total of 23 times. Most of the opening consists of these examples and they all have a violent or apocalyptic themes. This makes the viewer start to understand the severity of the obsession Walter has over the number and what affect it is going to have on him. In some cases the number 23 encompasses other words to symbolize and foreshadow how it takes over Walters life. As the sequence goes on the numbers start to overlap which also symbolize how he continues to find overlaps with the number and happenings in his life. Eventually words start to be crossed out in the sequence which could be related to Walters amnesia or refusal to see that he is coming obsessed. The repetition of the number in the title sequence reflects the movie in the way that Walter’s behavior becomes obsessive and mindless.

The transitions begin to introduce side slides which creates smoother transitions. Blood splatters also start appearing which allude to the violent tendencies Walter develops. More and more blood starts to cover the pages and the transitions become faster making the viewer feel a sense of franticness. Eventually the whole page gets covered in blood then it zooms out to show that all the text and blood splatters come together to form a 23 on a page of blood.

The music used is somber and builds up to a suspenseful tune. There are times when the sound of typing can heard which relates to Walter writing the book. The music gives adds to the mysterious vibes of the sequence.


In conclusion, the title sequence is successful in connecting to the movie. Reasoning and evidence can be found for everything that was included and it is also proves interesting because there is something new to be seen every time you rewatch it. It is also successful in a way by not being cliche. Even though the common blood splatters and fingerprints that are associated with mystery are used, the designers integrated them in a unique way I have never seen done before. The use of examples of how 23 can be seen in everyday life was interesting also. By reading the title it is understood that it obviously holds some importance but the examples give the viewers context and that the number has a negative context. I also thought that the title sequence could be seen as a take on Walter’s personality from the beginning of the sequence starting with only a few flashes of 23 then it progressively shows up more often and along with it, more blood.  The only question I am left with is what is the meaning of the numbers that flash into certain names.

Discussion — One Response

  • Brogan Williams 03/31/2019 on 2:08 PM

    This is a wonderful analysis of an interesting and memorable title sequence that displays thoughtful design and processing. It is obvious that the sequence gives the audience a perfect introduction to the rest of the story they are about to experience, and it is interesting that you found a correlation between the main character’s personality and the title sequence. However, I am curious as to how you feel about the repetition of the number 23 so early in the movie. Do you think that they should have made the obsession with the number less obvious from the very introduction of the story and maybe held the audience in a bit more suspense by making the title sequence only have very obscure, vague, and hidden uses of the number 23? Or do you think that this title sequence is more effective? I personally think that a bit of a more mysterious beginning would match the plot better.

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