Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite, one of my all-time favorites, is a cult comedy based around the relatively average life of Napoleon Dynamite. The film seems almost plotless as the humor is very dry and uncomfortable. The title sequence matches this stiff tone with very generic transitions, music, and imagery that are still very creatively interconnected. The title sequence begins with light background noises including birds and bugs chirping. This reinforces the rural way of life that Napoleon and his family portrayed in the film. After a few seconds, the White Stripe’s song We’re Gonna be Friends begins to play which again presents a very soft and childish tone for the film. Speaking personally, I don’t feel as though the sound of the opening has a very large impact on the tone, but works more of simple background noise to put a larger emphasis on the imagery in front of the camera.
The imagery of the title sequence reveals a great deal of information about the film as well. Opening credits are presented and written in condiments such as ketchup and mayonnaise on plates of food as well as listed on Napoleon’s school I.D. in which informs the reader of the movies time period, 2004. Each clip in the opening credits includes a motif or noteworthy object from the film such as a plate of tater tots, in which reappears later on in the film in one of the most renowned scenes.
The movement of the title sequence is relatively slow-paced with little action in each clip. Again, in attempts to reinforce the awkward feeling of the movie, some of the movement is jerky and almost seems unplanned. For example, there is an opening credit clip featuring the hands behind the camera placing down a protractor, an eraser, and three pencils that when perfectly placed reveal the writers of the films names. However, in this scene, the pencils are first placed in the wrong order and had to be corrected which seemed very uncomfortable and out of place. This awkwardness happens again when the hands directing the movement fumbles to grab a slip of paper that includes the actor’s names. Although the movement of the credits is jerky, the camera remains centered throughout the entire sequence which allows all the attention to be directed towards the movement of the hands revealing the names of those involved in the making of the film.
Another aspect reinforcing this emphasis on the type is the background in which everything is shot in front of. Each shot has a different background where most seem to resemble bright-colored, shaggy carpets and all sorts of tables that in my opinion add to the playfulness of the entire sequence. Everything seems to be very consistent in regard to the composition as each creative form of organizing the credits is related back to the film and shares like qualities. These qualities are relative to either food as represented on plates or school supplies like the school I.D. as much of the movie is shot in Napoleon’s high school, Preston High.
Despite the lack of drama or suspense in the rather mellow opening, the presentation of typography is, in my opinion, the aspect of the title sequence that sets this movie apart from others. As previously mentioned, the first three clips of credits are plates of food including tater tots, a burrito, and deviled eggs. The type is consistent but differs in the medium it is written in; ketchup, mayonnaise, or mustard. Not only is this a creative and fun way to relate this information back to the content of the movie, but it also forces the viewer to pay attention and search for these credits as if it’s a scavenger hunt. The title sequence progresses to another generic object, a tube a chapstick, where the credits are written as the information on a chapstick would be in that same font. I feel as though the mission in directing this opening was to make the information blend in as much as possible as a little surprise for the viewer. Going back to the typography, there are a few snippets informing the viewer of the casting, music, director of photography, and executive producer where the names are handwritten in pencil. Expanding on that, the cursive handwriting seems very sloppy which puts emphasis on the informal aspects of the design of the credits and tone of the film. Since all of the typography is apart of or attached to these inanimate objects, the movement of the type relies on the direction from the hands in behind the camera in which pick up, bring closer to the camera, or place down these objects.
Lastly, when discussing the lighting, it is again nothing too far from ordinary. There is just enough contrast between the background and foreground to give the right attention toward the information in the credits. Because the camera is shot in a “first-person point of view” style, the lighting is realistic and the camera acts as the viewers actual sight, not dramatizing any of the content.
In conclusion, although Napoleon Dynamite emits a tone of regularity and informality, the intertwining of the credit information along with motifs throughout the film really underline the creativity and design process that constructed the film as a whole.

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