A few days ago, Starz released the opening title sequence for Outlander. Both of us found it, in a word, haunting. Put together Bear McCreary‘s arrangement of the Jacobite-era “The Skye Boat Song” (a folk song that recalls the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746); Raya Yarborough‘s vocals; the text of the Robert Louis Stevenson, with the singular change its subject’s gender (“lad” vs “lass”; “he” vs “she”); the breathtaking beauty that is Scotland; the cinematographic choices (a fleeing, lost female in a wood; scenes from a very “safe” 1945; the menacing, yet dancing, flogging instrument; a woman’s face in profile; a warrior in proud stance; a woman’s hand grabbing the edge of a mattress; a couple, on horseback, running through a wondrous green glen, toward the valley between two mountains that may hint at a way “home”); the absolute lack of a complete human face.
Readers know who the woman is. Why she is fleeing. Why she is lost. Who the warrior is. Who is holding the whip. Though we know this, though one may know the tale of Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser from Outlander through Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, this is our first sense of how she will be portrayed in Ronald D. Moore‘s adaptation; how her story will be told.
How will it be told? Though the first season has yet to premiere, a few things seem certain from this opening title sequence: This is Claire’s journey. She is ripped from one world, against her will, and thrown into another. She is fleeing. At the beginning of the sequence, she’s in little more than a simple dress. Toward the middle, she is fully clothed in 18th-century garb. But she is still fleeing. Or is she running toward something? Someone?
The choice of a female vocalist seems spot on. The text evokes a journey, a traveling “away.” The arrangement, a mystical feel, which seems at home to the time-travel, sci-fi aspect of Outlander. The subject’s gender, an obvious reflection of our heroine. The use of drums and bagpipes, strength, and impending battle.
Beginning to end, this sequence is completely, and fully, satisfying.
Watch the Outlander opening title sequence here.
Download the Original Opening Title Song from Bear McCreary on iTunes, here.
What do you think about the opening sequence?