Main Titles for “My Cousin Rachel” – Fox Searchlight Pictures – Directed by Roger Michell and Produced by Kevin Loader
We were first invited to a screening of a very early cut of the film in July 2016, just so we could get a feel for the overall treatment of the story and the look of the film. We then didn’t have our first proper discussion with Director, Roger Michell until September, as the cut was still ongoing and likely to alter how the titles might work. Although it’s good to be involved at the earliest stages, it’s usually better to wait until the cut is fairly well structured before making the first move, and as we had worked with Roger before (Morning Glory, 2010 starring Rachel McAdams/Harrison Ford), we could hit the ground running when it came to interpreting his ideas.
Although the story is set in the mid 19th Century, the core emotional thread of the story is timeless. Coming from the pen of Daphne du Maurier, and being first published in 1951, she inevitably reflected more modern times in her storytelling. In his own way, Roger has made a very modern-feeling version of the story, even though still set in its original Victorian time-period.
It was this modern viewpoint that we first discussed, regarding the choice of typestyle and the impact required of the main title.
After a period of research, we offered up several styles, which we felt, embodied something of the strength, sophistication and perhaps, clinical nature of the central female character. The design that was finally adopted, combined a very simplistic classical Roman typestyle with contemporary wide-spaced tracking, giving it the elegance and modernity required. An approach which is appropriate to the whole film.
There was then a process of testing the font sizes, timing and animation of the various title sections. For the main title itself, although essentially very simple and deliberately stark, it is introduced with a wintery English thunder clap and ends with a hot Italian sun, so we subtly affected the lighting, animation and colour, with the intention of subliminally moving the audience from the one place to the other.