Higher Learning (1995)

Actors names, when stacked, takes focus/emphasis off of individuals, so that significance of each name lessons per additional name.

The opening title sequence visually communicates what Higher Learning is about by the way it uses typography to introduce the cast and production members.

The font itself has a playful and informal tone but it’s also a bold, intimidating font, especially since it is in capital letters. The stark contrast of the almost-fluorescent white against the pitch-black background adds to this intersection of informality and significance. This, I think, lays the foundation for the plot, which explores the intersections of race, class and gender inside one college campus.

Indeed, it is a blurred line between individual relationships and broader social relationships, such as those between diverse groups of college students. “HIGHER LEARNING”, the title, is presented alone and is in red.

Gray, low-contrast letters stating the person’s title (status) introduce, in bold white capitalized letters, the filmmaker, John Singleton.

The names of cast and production members are presented to viewers diagonally, appearing from different corners and sides of the screen onto the picture, where they pause momentarily for us to read before continuing their respective angular paths across the frame. The main producers are first introduced, presented in the same white letters mentioned above, and they appear below or to the right of gray letters that indicate their respective titles; the title frame, red lettered HIGHER LEARNING, separates the cast from the aforementioned filmmakers.

By presenting the cast with text only, rather than photographs or text overlays when they appear onscreen, the graphic designers make it difficult to distinguish between actors, characters, and their significance. Some actors’ names are presented alone, as in ICE CUBE, while others’ are stacked, which takes focus and significance away from individual names. Once again, significance and status of individuals and groups are not clearly defined, so one must wait to see their actions and characteristics to see where they fit.

Ice Cube, a well-respected actor and main character, has a frame to himself, whereas other supporting actors are bunched together.

It’s symbolic of this plot that explores social status and social evaluation on unfamiliar turf: in this way alone, the typography in the title sequence of Higher Learning symbolizes the intersections of status, significance, and relationships as they relate to newness and expectations on a college campus.

Images from : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLrdtK5A4Eo