Analysis of the Mad Men opening Title Sequence

Topics: Symmetry, Red, Left-wing politics Pages: 6 (2229 words) Published: October 30, 2013

Analysis of Mad Men Title Sequence

University of Minnesota

This analysis will cover the middle scene in the Mad Men opening title sequence. This will be addressing the principles and elements of design and their impact on the viewing experience of this segment of title sequence. This scene is an illustration of a man free-falling from a skyscraper, down the side of a building. Further detail will be addressed later. Three elements of design will be discussed: line, color, and shape. All are designed to show continuity and free-flowing movement through change. The principles balance, harmony, and rhythm of design will be discussed through the symmetrical balance of the geometric buildings and the repetition used to depict change. The design functions utilized are aesthetic (evokes emotion from the apparent fall and the change in scenery), utilitarian (finding the focal point of the show and the sequence in the falling man and the attitude of the show); in conjunction give us the symbolic nature of the show. Finally, the conclusion dives into how the designers used the elements and principles to show the aesthetic, utilitarian, and symbolic functions.

Analysis of the Mad Men Opening Title Sequence
Mad Men is about an ad agency that is riddled with controversy, drama and plot twists. The main character, Don Draper, is somehow always caught up in this and the opening title sequence encompasses his involvement in the free-fall through the backdrop of ads projected on skyscrapers and scared human movements. The chosen image focuses on line, color, and shape through movement and change. The design principle rhythm, harmony, and balance are achieved through change and repetition. The symbolic function of this scene shows the involvement of the main character at his job and the sporadic life he leads. Scene Described in Detail

Set on a white background, the scene unfolds to a portion of skyline depicting parts of four skyscrapers. All geometric and repetitive in design, they show various ads on each of them. From left to right the first building, on it’s outward facing side, shows a beer bottle pouring out into a clear glass. Its inward facing side shows a blur of shaded colors. The second building shows the head of a blonde woman, hand extended open under chin, with red text to the right of her face on the outward facing side. On the inward facing side it shows what appears to be a family portrait. The third building houses and woman’s exposed legs with the free-falling main character at her knee bend. The final building appears to be showing the back portion of a car. The skyscrapers are unified in their similar design and geometric proportions with repetition of building type and windows encased in the buildings. The Free-falling ban dressed in a black tuxedo, back to the ground with arms and legs extended, casts a shadow on the building to his right. The entire scene has a slight shade to it, spurring from the upper left corner where it fades from black to a shaded white. This accents the man’s silhouette, which appears to be all black bringing unity to the scenes color scheme. Also in the upper left corner is the text “ Special Guest Stars John Cullen,” this is shown in black with the exception of his first name which is shown in red. Design Elements

The primary element in this scene is color. The color scheme of this scene is primarily achromatic in the background of the ads and the buildings. The scene starts black in the upper left corner, showing high value contrast to the white background of the majority of the scene. This black corner creates a vanishing boundary in its fade to white, going from high value contrast, to low value contrast and back to high. The portions of the ads that illustrate skin and liquid beer depict a monochromatic color scheme in that it shows the color range of...

Citations: Hemmis, Pat in Introduction to Design thinking [PDF Document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web Site:
Norman, Donald. Emotional Design: Why We Love (Or Hate) Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books, 2004. 63-237. Print.
, Steve, and Gardner, Mark. Mad Men. Imaginary Forces. TV
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