Between the World and Me

The opening sequence for Between the World and Me is a work of art, bursting with color, knowledge and history. The use of design and design elements is not scarce throughout, the visual designers took every second and ran with it. As the audience you are able to see the precise use of color, movement through text and individuals, and overall the use of visual aspects such as newspapers, videos and photography to keep your attention from start to finish.

The reoccurring colors through out the opening sequence for Between the World and Me fall on the gray scale. When color is introduced, it is introduced for a reason. Sometimes that may be a in color picture of an African American family, it could be a colorized video of a young African American couple in a black and white world, or it could be a hint of neon yellow drawing and scribbling that is seen throughout the sequence. I believe this symbolizes a number of things. I think the black and white, or gray scale, taking up a majority of the screen represents history and past times for African Americans, one example would include a clip of a woman being detained on the group by a police man. Then that grayscale is contrasted with a vivid video of young children playing on a lawn, or a women dancing in the street, or a marshal preaching to a crowd of people, and although it maybe be an aged video from decades ago, it’s still full of color.

As a designer I am able to see that the movement of this opening sequence, was carefully selected and portrayed throughout this video. Newspaper articles, clipping, and scraps can be seen in almost every scene and image. I can imagine this stems from the fact that during large eras such as the Civil Rights movement, Sit ins, and Protests, much of that information was spread through text and paper media. The movement of text, image and even video all comes off as the wrinkling, the folding, and the opening and closing of a newspaper. This brings me back to the idea of history. Much of Between the World and Me takes place decades and years ago during the time of newspapers. It helps incorporate that idea of old with the new, the newspapers with the colored videos and drawings. It all sets the tone and the stage for what is about to take place after the opening sequence.

Not only being a designer but also solely an audience member it’s hard to not notice how many different visual aspects and mediums are utilized during this opening sequence. You can see newspaper, digital drawings, videos, illustrations and paintings, and finally photography. The mix of all of these not only keeps the reading engaged at every movement, bringing their attention further and further in, but it also makes every visual aspect used so much more alive and have so much more depth. It makes the still text feel like it’s apart with a video of a smiling family. It makes moving photography feel like it’s connected to the illustrations that are presented. And it makes the neon yellow digital drawings feel apart of the photographs they are shown with. It doesn’t feel overcrowded or too involved, every detail feels exactly in place as it should.