A lot of thought has gone into the opening credits of True Detective

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Even if someone who’s never seen the show watched the Season 1 opening credits, they’d get a solid picture of the overall themes. There is a sense of haunting beauty in the exhibited photographs, as they begin as large-scale landscape portraits that transform into the sordid, microcosmic underbelly of the exhibit locations.

Every physical location, including truck stops, strip clubs, forests, and churches, are sites of some degradation, which Clair describes as “places ravaged by exploitation and pollution.” This mirrors the revelation of the Tuttle cult in the series, made up of powerful men shaped by their inner/outer psychospheres, committing horrific crimes and leaving destruction in their wake. As the credits reach the point where they reveal the mindscapes of the killers (symbols of death, religious iconography, depictions of animal urges), the hues become darker, the fire becomes more intense, and the conflict within of the main characters deepens.

The level of attention to detail and care put into the opening of “True Detective” is truly worth applauding, as few title sequences are capable of inspiring the emotions they evoke. Clair mentioned in his pitch that the credits were meant to reveal new layers of meaning to viewers as they progressed through the episodes, bolstered by a deeper understanding of the characters. When the title card is revealed, the cane field burns red, while the crucifixes and gun crosshairs merge into one. After the fire consumes everything, the final shot lingers on Rust and Marty, relaying that the weight of the city’s psychosphere rests with these two men, who must fight their inner demons to defeat once and for all a greater cosmic evil. And that’s exactly what they do.

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