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Who performs the remixed opening theme song of ‘White Rabbit’ in 1899 and why does the series intro have Arcane-style animations?
1899 made its highly anticipated OTT streaming debut via Netflix on November 17 and it’s safe to say that fans around the world are hooked on this ship-based mystery-horror series.
One of the most talked-about aspects of 1899 is the opening theme song and animation introduction, which features Stone-replicas of characters and sets to the tune of ‘White Rabbit’.
So, who performed the original White Rabbit song, who performs the 1899 remix, what do the lyrics mean, and why does the series have Arcane-style animations?
Who performs the 1899 opening theme song?
The opening theme song for Netflix’s 1899 series is called ‘White Rabbit’ and is a cover of the classic 1967 track by Jefferson Airplane; performed by singer/songwriter Eliot Sumner and developed by Ben Frost.
Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band from San Francisco who was one of the pioneering bands of the psychedelic rock genre, experiencing widespread success from 1965 all the way up until 1996.
In fact, the band was one of the first headliners for the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, Woodstock in 1969, as well as the very first Isle of Wight Festival in 1968.
White Rabbit is arguably the band’s most well-known song; however, rock fans will undoubtedly know Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody to Love’ track – which has been covered countless times since its debut in 1967.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2021, band member Grace Slick explained how she wrote the song on a broken piano that had various keys missing, but “that was OK because I could hear in my head the notes that weren’t there.”
The song uses imagery found in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
“Grace has always said that White Rabbit was intended as a slap toward parents who read their children stories such as Alice in Wonderland (in which Alice uses several drug-like substances in order to change herself) and then wondered why their children grew up to do drugs.” – Jefferson Airplane website, via Web Archive.
Eliot Sumner is an English singer, songwriter, and actor who was originally born in Pisa, Italy. The 32-year-old made their professional debut in the I Blame Coco band, before transitioning into a solo career in 2014 with their first IP ‘Information’.
Film fans may also recognize Sumner as Laura Pressfield from Guy Ritchie’s iconic The Gentlemen film from 2019.
Ben Frost, who created the 1899 intro cover, is also the composer for the series, with his original music showcased throughout the mystery-horror show. Sound design was helped by Alexander Wurtz, with the re-recording mix led by Ansgar Frerich.
The lyrics for the 1899 opening sequence are:
“One pill makes you larger,
And one pill makes you small,
And the ones that Mother gives you,
Don’t do anything at all,
When logic and proportion,
Have fallen sloppy dead,
And the White Knight is Talking backwards,
And the Red Queen’s off with her head.”
Photo by Francois Durand for Dior/Getty Images
The Arcane-style opening animation for 1899
Whilst Sumner’s outstanding cover of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit song is fantastic, what makes 1899 one of those un-skippable openings is the Arcane-style animated opening sequence.
Interestingly, this opening animation was something that showrunner Baran bo Odar was dead set on and features several easter eggs that viewers can find.
Speaking to DW, Odar explained how, “We’re huge fans of title sequences, a title sequence is a promise that draws the viewer in.”
“’1899’ makes it clear right from the start that nothing is the way it seems at first glance. At the same time, there is an important message for the rest of the series in the intro, says the director: “Look closely, otherwise you’ll miss something.” – DW.
By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]
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