Communication Arts Article

By March 31, 2019 February 19th, 2021 No Comments

Operation Finale opening titles

The opening titles for Operation Finale tell an objective visual tale of one of the major organizers of the Holocaust.

Responses by Michael Riley, creative director, Shine

Background: This was a main title sequence for the MGM feature film Operation Finale, directed by Chris Weitz, introducing Adolf Eichmann, a German-Austrian Nazi SS Leader and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. Eichmann was tasked with facilitating and managing the logistics involved in the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe during World War II. The sequence showed his role as the mastermind behind the planning and logistics involved in the “Final Solution,” the Nazi plan for the extermination of the Jews during World War II.

Reasoning: Chris Weitz asked us to create a sequence that visually described Eichmann’s work throughout the war, which largely focused on logistics that involved meticulous planning. Our storytelling solution included visuals of names, numbers, plans, diagrams, maps and various kinds of population analyses.

Challenges: The storytelling aspect of the production design. During the process, we would design, and then consult with experts to ensure we were telling the story accurately. Vintage props were sourced from all over the world to create the sequence, including Nazi-issued cigarettes, passports recovered from ghettos, a Nazi SS ring, accurate SS officer wardrobes, passports, diagrams, and most importantly, old original maps.

Favorite details: Every object on camera was scrutinized, down to the fonts on the letterhead in the typewriter and the four-digit number on Eichmann’s telephone. We worked hard to tell a visual story that objectively described Eichmann’s role in the Holocaust. We were proud to be invited to work on Operation Finale and did our best to get the story right.

Time constraints: The project from start to finish was almost ten months. Director Chris Weitz asked us to start thinking about the sequence early, when they were still prepping to shoot the film in Argentina, but everyone knew the historical accuracy would take time. So that enabled us the time to source documents, passports, diagrams, maps and other props from all over the globe to tell our story.

Anything new: Working with the maps gave us a new perspective on how World War II evolved. While studying the many maps and diagrams we researched and purchased, I learned some basics about the war in graphic visual terms that I hadn’t understood before.

Young Kim/Kate Mrozowski, designers/animators
Michael Riley, creative director/director of photography/production designer
Justine Gerenstein, editor
Bob Swensen, executive producer
Shine, production company/design firm
Fred Berger/Brian Kavanaugh-Jones/Pamela Martin/Chris Weitz, MGM, clients