As the closing credits begin to role for Marvel films there are those that leave and those that stay to see another quick scene. But what about movies that don’t have end-credit scenes? Do those credits still matter?
When we look back at the history of film throughout the last century we can certainly see how the use of credits has evolved. Credits were traditionally shown before any of the action of the film took place because audiences of that time were making the transition from stage shows to motion pictures. When a theater patron would walk into a stage performance they would have been given a play bill that would list the names of the actors and the crew members who made the show possible. As the transition to motion pictures was happening it was still important for cast and crew to be recognized so the natural place to do that was before the film started.
As our culture began to go to staged productions less and less and instead flocked to their local cinema, credits started being utilized in a different manner besides at the beginning while the opening score played underneath.
Saul Bass showed through his graphic art style that the names of those involved could still be shown, while setting the tone of the film and giving the audience an idea of what they could expect. While Bass’s influence can still be seen in films today, the credits he was creating were still being shown at the start of a film.
We are now in a time period of cinema where credits are only shown at the beginning of the film if it is trying to invoke a feeling of a time gone by like with 2012 Best Picture The Artist or Quentin Tarrantino’s Django Unchained. Instead, credits are now placed at the end of the film and signify, to most movie-goers, that it’s now time to leave or that it’s time to wait for an extra scene.
But, credits shouldn’t be treated that way.
Respect the Credits
Films have a long history of being associated with one person. Do the Right Thing is Spike Lee’s joint. The Thing is John Carpenters. We think of George Lucas when we think Star Wars and the same for Stephen Spielberg with Jaws. But the truth is that filmmaking is a collaborative process, not even Tyler Perry can make a film entirely by himself. And in today’s age of films relying heavily on special effects it takes hundreds upon hundreds, if not thousands, of people to create any given movie.
And that is where the credits come in.
A credits sequence gives the audience a chance to read the names of the people that don’t make it on to the posters outside the theater. The names of the men and women who are hanging lights, preparing the food, keeping track of the budget, moving the equipment from set to set, gathering permits and filling in for the stars worth millions when a big stunt needs to be preformed. All of those people and more deserve their chance to be recognized and we should let them have it.
Stay Till the End
Now, none of us can possibly read all the names that come across the screen at the end of the latest blockbuster, and that’s okay. What we can do is stay in our seat for four extra minutes and realize how many people it took to create what we just watched.
Try and read down a column as it scrolls across. Count how many visual effects houses it took to finish the film. Figure out the name of that song that you liked. Look to see what camera was used to capture the performances. Clap for the stars and laugh at the funniest names.
But certainly don’t leave.