Features and Columns · Movies

A Beginner’s Guide to Pablo Ferro: A Titan of Movie Title Design

There are giants of movie title design…and then there’s Pablo Ferro.
Dr Strangelove Pablo Ferro
Columbia Pictures
By  · Published on July 9th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on the movie title design and opening title sequences of Pablo Ferro.

An immigrant from Antilla, Cuba, the late Pablo Ferro (1935-2018) deserves to take up space in the brains of all self-respecting cinephiles. Self-taught and iconoclastic, Ferro freelanced his way to the big leagues, rubbing elbows with everyone from William Tytla to Stan Lee, ultimately forming his own company, Pablo Ferro Films, in 1964.

Ferro is best remembered for kicking down various doors in the realm of opening title sequences. His hand lettering for the mid-flight refueling titles of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, a pointed repudiation of the geometric graphics of the Basses, Binders, and Brownjohns.

The Thomas Crown Affair

His revolutionary split-screen montage for 1968’s The Thomas Crown Affair brought an unprecedently fast and furious ad-like energy to the big screen. From Beetlejuice to Men in Black to Stop Making Sense, Pablo Ferro contributed his work to over one hundred iconic title sequences. Suffice to say: his is a name worth knowing.

The video essay below is a marvelous place to start, offering a quick primer on how Ferro shook up the cinematic world of graphic design, title sequences, and even editing. If it tickles your graphic design sensibility, we also recommend checking out Richard Goldgewicht’s excellent 2012 documentary Pablo.

Warning: the following video contains flashing imagery that may be triggering to readers with visual sensitivities.

Watch “The Art of Movie Title Design | Pablo Ferro and the Freeform Revolution”:

Who made this?

This video essay on the title design of Pablo Ferro comes courtesy of the fine folks at Little White Lies, a film-obsessed magazine based in the United Kingdom. Luís Azevedo edited the video. You can follow Little White Lies on Twitter here. And you can check out their official website here. You can subscribe to their YouTube account here.

More videos like this

Related Topics: ,

Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.