The title sequence for BBC One’s new series SS-GB is slow-moving, haunting and moving all at the same time.
Framestore has delivered with impeccable design once again, creating a sepia-based, abstract sequence heavily referencing the Battle of Britain in time for the UK launch of the complex thriller on Sunday night.
Having not seen the series ourselves yet, the title sequence is overwhelmingly intriguing - clouted in shadow, blurry lines and blatant symbolism.
SS-GB is a new adaptation of Len Deighton’s 1978 alternative history novel with the same name.
The narrative follows an SS-occupied London in the early 1940s following a German win of World War II. The BBC show is modest in budget compared to Netflix’s Man in the High Castle, loosely based on Philip K. Dick's dystopian novel.
Framestore’s William Bartlett worked alongside production company Sid Gentle Films and writers for the series Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to direct the title sequence. William has significant experience with referencing motives and allegiances in a show’s narrative. He also worked multiple times as VFX supervisor of the James Bond franchise movie titles alongside Sid and Neal, making the title sequence for SS-GB a creative reunion of sorts.
William already had background knowledge with Deighton’s novel. Within the title sequence he wanted to give the story context and reflect the mystery surrounding protagonist Douglas Archer (played by Sam Riley) – a lead detective at the SS-governed Scotland Yard.
You’ll notice silhouette characters woven into the sequence along with iconic London skylines and German military insignia. The inky, blood red clouds reflect the poppy fields which have become the symbol of war in modern times.
William captured key cast members on a green screen as the series was filmed. The entire sequence was completed in VRay renderer for Nuke.
"Every element of the sequence needs to play its part in giving a glimpse of narrative, whilst weaving together an overall visual" says William.
"SS-GB was a prime opportunity to present my own take on a sequence, working with a brilliant and collaborative cast and crew."
Praised for its deeply-thrilling storyline following the murder of an antiques dealer who is actually a resistance fighter - and its female New York Times journalist character (played by Kate Bosworth) - the narrative moves are described as “satisfyingly mystifying, but so far its sexual politics are annoyingly predictable”, by The Guardian.