Swamps in My Blood

November 24, 2008

Until HBO’s True Blood, I can’t recall a television series with an opening sequence more riveting than the show itself. A foreboding mix of lust, religion, and evil, the montage casts a memorable spell. With each viewing, I’m drawn deeper into the stark settings.

While I enjoyed the series’ first season, which wrapped up Sunday, it fell short of HBO classics The Wire, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, and The Sopranos. I learned tonight via MetaFilter that a documentary inspired the opening, propelling Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus to the top of my must-see list.

The visceral appeal of True Blood’s opening isn’t the sex. It’s the southern swamps. I trudged through them in my youth. They entered my blood.

YouTube Preview Image

When I lived in Tallahassee in my early twenties, I worked for a land-surveying outfit. We spent much of the time near Sumatra in Liberty County, least populous of Florida’s sixty-seven counties. For weeks I swung a machete, hacking through terrain that was half pines and palmetto, and half swamp. Picture cypress trees, vines, muck, and waist-deep water the color of dried blood (tannins from the abundant roots). At night I dreamed of snakes.

In the swamp I finally quit smoking. I sweat so much I couldn’t keep my cigarettes dry.

Digital Kitchen created True Blood‘s title shots. Similar work for TV and film by many companies can be viewed at Art of the Title. For a site rich in video, it also features some striking text, including this gem about True Blood, which I wish I had written:

“Stick shacks sulk under Spanish moss.”

I’ve been there.

UPDATE: To my shock and delight, Hollywood Video had a copy of Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. Maybe I’ll watch it while recovering from the overeating I’ve vowed not to do Thanksgiving Day.