Familiarise the castaways and tribes
One of the most useful purposes of the opening credits is to familiarise the viewers with the castaways and tribes. The opening sequence gives us a chance to look at the tribes in succession and put a name to each face. While the opening sequences have varied in their treatment of showing the castaways (some showing game footage of them and others just displaying a photograph) every single one has made sure the viewer knows who is playing the game and what tribe they are placed on. Typically on recent seasons whether due to twists, time constraints or other production decisions, the invisible player edit seems to be more common. While the main narrators get a tonne of screen time, other players fall through the cracks and can be forgotten about. The title sequence ensures this doesn’t happen, as every contestant is given a roughly equal portion of screen time. To emphasise this point, certain seasons feature a new intro post swap or merge that solely shows the castaways who are left in the game to more closely familiarise the viewer.
The opening credits help to try and ensure the audience remembers the castaways and aren’t left wondering who’s Mary?
Set the scene for the location, culture and twists
While recent seasons have focused less on interesting new locations and more on twists, in the past the opening credits worked as an integral way to set the scene for each season. For example, footage of the ancient ruins in the Guatemala intro or the traditional warriors in Vanuatu’s opening sequence visually conveyed how different and diverse the cultures of the locations being encountered were. Similarly, footage of the jungle in The Amazon’s title credits or dangerous animals like the crocodile in The Australian Outback’s opening exposed to the viewers at home just how demanding and dangerous Survivor really is. Couple the intro footage with a culturally specific version of the Ancient Voices theme and the viewer is transported to where the season is taking place. Even in the recent Blood vs. Water, despite its sparse usage, the intro does a great job at illustrating the season’s twist by literally showing “blood” being poured into water. Without looking at the closer impacts of the location footage, the awe inspiring nature captured by Scott Duncan is simply something the viewer can enjoy and is worth an opening sequence just to be shown more fully.
It’s great to get an insight into the culture and theme of the season through some truly epic footage in the opening credits.
Set the tone and signal that Survivor has begun
I for one appreciate the opening credits as a viewer because they are your final warning that Survivor has begun and if you haven’t already you need to get yourself sorted and plant your butt firmly on the couch. Even many non-Survivor viewers are familiar with the Ancient Voices theme and it’s a key marketing feature of Survivor. For the Survivor fan that knows the theme, it works perfectly to set the tone of the show and get you excited for the upcoming episode. Plus it gives you a small window of opportunity to finish those last minute tasks and ask those all so important questions. Do I have time to make that cup of tea? Can I take that toilet break? Are my Survivor fantasy league picks in? Am I ready to join the online conversation? In all seriousness, the opening credits do allow you to put your day behind you and get into the frame of mind to watch and enjoy the episode.
The theme and credits are truly iconic and help create the aura of the show.
While it seems the ongoing trend in Survivor is to work things down to a fine art, weed out anything unnecessary and focus on getting more bang for the buck, the opening credits sequence has a long history as part of the show and is symbolic not just to fans but also to the everyday person on the street. Production may view the opening titles as unnecessary or perhaps even pointless but they do serve many useful purposes including highlighting the castaways, setting the scene and announcing the start of the show. While strictly speaking we may not need opening credits, they’re a one minute indulgence that, at least in my eyes, deserve to be shown on our screen each and every season.
Do you think the opening credits are important to the show? Should they always show them or do you like the shortened versions? Let us know in the comments below!
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