Monsters, Inc. (2001)

In the film, Monsters, Inc., the opening sequence includes various design elements that set the tone and mood for the audience. This animation was created by Geefwee Boedoe who used a traditional method of paper cutouts and drawings before digitally translating it.

The 2-D visuals are all stylized to look drawn, creating an organic and playful feel similar to arts and crafts that kids would do. This makes them appear as if a child with a wild imagination has created them, especially with all of the monster’s unique characteristics and expressions. The visuals are either ontop a black background or filled up with a pattern of colorful doors. By using this playful style combined with vibrant colors it comforts the audience, especially the children that this film is not filled with scary dark monsters but is meant to be comedic and fun.

 

The way the visuals and type interacted was very compelling and surprising as a lot of title sequences have the type stand still. The text was either revealed behind a door, drawn with chalk, or arranged, grabbed, or eaten by the monsters. This added a lot of movement and character to both the visuals and the type. In one case, the letter M ‘escaped’ being eaten by a monster and fought back until the monster bit it making the M look like the monster’s teeth. This personification of the letter creates a light hearted and comical atmosphere that is represented in the film. The typography is all very organic until the end scene when the monster’s tail hits it and the type morphes into a heavier type set. This more modern font type has an industrial feel which relates to the incorporation or company that the monsters work at. While this font is similar to the well known Monster AG font used on poster titles, it still has a handmade feel so that it stays consistent with the rest of the sequence.

The jazz soundtrack by Randy Newman is upbeat and cheerful like the movie. The visuals, such as the doors, all moved and danced in synche with the beat by bouncing or transitioning in and out of the frame. There were numerous sound effects that made the visuals more realistic. For example, whenever a door shut there was a slam and when the letters were rearranged or the M was fighting back there was shuffling sounds or squeaks. In the beginning, a monster roared, resulting in a scream which corresponds to the film where the monster’s job is to scare children in order to get screams. Overall the opening sequence is playfully stylized setting an energetic and colorful tone that is full of imagination and fun.

Discussion — One Response

  • Anabel Russo 04/14/2021 on 6:38 PM

    Rheanna made some wonderful observations about the opening sequence of Monsters Inc. One in particular that I found interesting was the mentioning of creating a “playful” atmosphere so that children know this is a happy movie and not one about “scary monsters”. This playfulness that Rheanna describes was accomplished by the usage of an upbeat Jazz song where the typography and graphics dance in sync with the music. I think the usage of color makes this sequence have a friendlier tone and appeals to a child audience. The typography the designers chose has a bit of a creepy feel to it because of the use of thin, imperfect letters with a white outline. To balance this, the type interacts with contrasting, colorful and bright elements such as the doors through animated movements to show that they have a relationship. I think the typography is intended to allude to monsters but the uplifting movement and music and colors juxtapose the creepy monsters. This develops a sense of mystery and story to unfold which is carried throughout the movie. This was one of my favorite title sequences because all elements in the composition work together to create an engaging lighthearted production that is very well suited to the plot of the movie.

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