Running at just over a minute long, the main title sequence to HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant” is jam-packed with iconic imagery and psychological insight into the show, but in a hyper-stylized way.
Series creator and co-showrunner told motion graphics director Jim Jones and senior motion graphics designer Taka Ikari to make the titles “weird,” instructing them to look at the Japanese anime series “Cowboy Bebop” for inspiration. They also ended up drawing from the titles of films “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” and “Catch Me If You Can.”
Adapted from Chris Bohjalian’s novel of the same name, “The Flight Attendant” begins with the titular Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) embarking on an alcohol-fueled date in Bangkok with the passenger in 3C (Michiel Huisman). When she wakes up the next morning to find his throat was slit, cleans up the crime scene, catches her flight home, and her nightmare truly begins. The show then follows Cassie as she slides down a rabbit hole of citizen detective work while also making her confront repressed childhood memories and her own alcoholism.
“She gets in this situation that she didn’t expect,” says Jones. “Her life gets turned upside down and she’s just falling into chaos. She falls in love [and] where you see Alex, they connect.”
As part of the design process, Ikari explains he designed Cassie falling in 3D and her hair and clothes were in 2D. “We wanted to make her move — rotating, running — and to make those moves realistic was the hardest part.”
Breaking down the inspiration behind the rabbits in the sequence, Jones says they didn’t know much other than after Alex’s murder, Cassie goes to an office and sees a giant statue of one. During that moment, she is spooked and runs, knocking it over. “You get this flashback of her running through the forest, bloody. I don’t necessarily think we knew some of this stuff, but as the series goes on, we realize, ‘Well, that’s repressed childhood memories.'”
The stark red represents the blood and the murder. Overall, there are bright bold colors such as orange, yellows and pinks used throughout the sequence. “We wanted to use multiple colors to show [her] delusion,” Ikari says.
The idea of Cassie starting her day was the ideal way to open the sequence, before spiraling into the chaos. By the end, Jones says, the plane flying off at the end was reflective of her “wanting everything to be OK and so it was back to being peaceful.”
Watch the video above.