We are all familiar with the trademark that comes before every Star Wars film installment: its Opening Crawl. It has been a staple in seven saga films and gives the audience a quick explanation of what is occurring in the universe before it delves into the action.
When the news that the first ever Star Wars standalone film, Rogue One would not open with this trademark, there was a divide between those who believe it is the best route to go with the upcoming anthology films and another group who consider this high treason. The man responsible behind creating the crawl for 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, does not mince words when it comes to what he thinks on the issue: “It’s foolish.”
His Thoughts On Not Including The Crawl
The original title designer for Episode IV, Dan Perri voices his displeasure by explaining how important the crawl is for the legions of Star Wars fans:
“Frankly, it is a huge mistake, because the image is so iconic and it’s so important to tens of millions, hundreds of millions of fans… I couldn’t imagine it starting without that. It’s foolish.”
When asked whether he has seen Rogue One or any of the Star Wars films since A New Hope, Perri reveals he hasn’t and explains that:
“There are too many things to do and there are too many film[s] out there to see.”
The filmmakers have mentioned that Rogue One doesn’t feature a crawl because its story– about a group of Rebels joining forces to steal the plans to the Death Star– already comes from the original crawl Perri created.
Perri Discusses The Initial Stages Of Creating The Crawl And Using A 1939 Film As Inspiration
Perri has been a film and television title sequence designer for over 30 years and besides creating the main titles for A New Hope, he has created the main titles for more than 400 film and television projects, including Falcon Crest, The Warriors, A Night At The Roxbury and Airplane!
It was definitely no easy feat to earn the stamp of approval of Star Wars creator George Lucas, as Perri would wait for hours for the director to have a few minutes to look at (and reject) his latest attempt at the opening title sequence.
“It Was Just This Stupid Space Film”
Of course, neither Perri or 20th Century Fox Executives at the time knew just how remarkable this “stupid space film”, as Perri initially described it, was. He explains a suggestion made by Lucas which ultimately led to the creation of the iconic Crawl:
“I had no idea what he was doing, so it was just this stupid space film. I didn’t think anything of it… Everything I showed him, he didn’t like. So I was constantly going out there with new ideas, and he would tell me to look at certain films. The Buck Rogers films and all the serials from the ’30s that he was using for inspiration.”
Perri came up with the idea of the Crawl when he saw the 1939 Cecil B. DeMille-directed, Union Pacific:
“He Liked It”
Perri brought the idea of the Opening Crawl to Lucas and was thankfully given the go ahead to arduously execute it:
“He liked the idea, but then I had to start shooting and testing and setting type. I went through 20 or 30 or 40 different type styles before I settled on one. Once we did that, I shot tests for weeks and weeks and weeks… It was all on film. You shoot a test on black-and-white film and then it had to be developed the next day or late that day. I’d rush out to Van Nuys with it and wait for him for hours to show it to him and he never liked it, and it just went on and on and on.”
They finished the Crawl with “maybe a month” left prior to its May 1977 release. Perri describes the feeling of relief when it was ultimately delivered and what he thought of the final result:
“[Lucas] accepted it and they cut it in. By then, it was only maybe a month before the release… The day I delivered it, it was such a relief to drive away from there knowing, ‘Wow, it’s done finally.’… When I think back on it, it wasn’t fun… It was a difficult project, but I’m happy with the results.”
Watch the fruit of Perri’s immense labor below with the Opening Crawl to the original 1977 Star Wars: