Temple Grandin thinks in pictures. As she says, played by Claire Danes in the 2010 biopic entitled simply Temple Grandin, she’s not like everybody else. The scientist, inventor, author, livestock facility designer, and autism rights activist can recall events and devise plans in acute visual detail, like a movie playing in her head.
In the foreword to Grandin’s autobiography Thinking in Pictures, first published in 1995, neurologist Oliver Sacks described the book as offering “a bridge between our world and hers” which “allows us to glimpse into a quite other sort of mind." In the diagrammatic, letter-flipping opening sequence to the film, created by studio Shine, we’re given a similar bridge. The sequence attempts to visualize aspects of Grandin’s singular point of view, her “quite other sort of mind.” In just under two minutes, the lean team at Shine including creative director Michael Riley, lead animator Penelope Nederlander, animator Dru Nget and editor Justine Gerenstein, with support from producer Bob Swensen and coordinator Lindsey Gerber, introduces audiences to Grandin and what would become a multiple award-winning performance for Danes. The letters in the credits cycle in place like a combination lock trying to find its solution, arriving at a clever amalgam of uppercase and lowercase serifs, the caps sized down to x-heights, ascenders and descenders a rare commodity.
Much of the sequence’s warmth and texture is created by the music, a gently rising, multilayered theme by composer Alex Wurman (March of the Penguins, Bernard and Doris). These diagrammatic graphics carry over into several sequences in the film and the typographic treatment is maintained for the end credits, creating a cohesive whole brimming with a personality that’s brilliant, interesting, and unusual.
Titles and Graphic Imagery Designed by: Shine
Creative Director, Illustrator: Michael Riley
Executive Producer: Bob Swensen
Lead Animator: Penelope Nederlander
Animator: Dru Nget
Editor: Justine Gerenstein
Production Coordinator: Lindsey Gerber
Music by: Alex Wurman
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