There's an Amazingly Nerdy Problem with the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Opening Crawl

Monday, 09 May 2016 - 3:12PM
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Monday, 09 May 2016 - 3:12PM
There's an Amazingly Nerdy Problem with the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Opening Crawl
"Star Wars fan" has always been a convenient shorthand for "nerd," but if there's one thing that might be nerdier than Star Wars, it's nitpicking about fonts. Now, some Star Wars fans are colliding these two "fandoms" to hilarious effect, because apparently The Force Awakens made a big typography faux-pas.

The controversy started with an essay in Medium when The Force Awakens first came out, and has snowballed from there:

Opening quote
The Star Wars opening crawl is perhaps the most famous narrative device in cinema history. Star Wars has many stylistic hallmarks, such as the Kurosawa-inspired scene wipe. But the opening crawl has become so associated with Star Wars that no other film could possibly use it without seeming like a blatant lift. In fact, you might say that the opening crawl is the thing that makes a Star Wars film feel like The Real Deal.
Closing quote


Opening Crawl

According to the essay (although no official sources have confirmed this, as far as we know), in all six Star Wars films, the title of the film in the opening crawl was typeset in the same font: News Gothic for the episode number, and Univers Ultra Condensed for the title. But that all ended with The Force Awakens, which aped the original trilogy in so many ways, but still decided to change the font:

Opening quote
The Force Awakens gets it close, but is wrong in one very crucial way. The episode's title is set with some condensed version of News Gothic, when it should be set in Univers: likely, specifically, Ultra Condensed. News Gothic (also used for the body text) is very round, friendly, and readable, whereas Univers gives the title of the film some stately heft - telegraphing the impression that the events about to transpire are carved in the stone of destiny (or something).

It's subtle, but noticable [sic]. The 'S' and 'R' glyphs, in particular, are very different. Overall, it's boxier, and feels more staid. Less urgent.
Closing quote

This sounds insanely nitpicky, and it is, but it's also apparently true. After fans started to speak out about the mistake in the opening crawl, Lucasfilm story editor Pablo Hidalgo confirmed on Twitter that J.J. Abrams decided to make the change for unknown reasons:



It's obviously subjective whether the new font looks better or worse (and we also still don't know if those are the actual fonts used), but now that I look at it, I can see what the writer is talking about. I never would have noticed it if someone hadn't pointed it out, but the new font does look a little boxier. "Less urgent" might be pushing it, but it does look a little plainer. And overall, it seems like a strange choice to change something that people likely either wouldn't notice or be upset about it, but maybe Abrams anticipated that this tiny change would inspire hilariously obscure nerd rages. 

Via Slashfilm

Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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