Chapters are convenient. They divide stories into bite-sized chunks. They might tell readers what to expect next. They can set the atmosphere with a neat font. It's a shame there are only chapters in books. Right?
A writer decides to include chapters, regardless of the work's medium.
Chapters may or may not be numbered. If they are numbered, some numbers may be skipped. Sometimes this is done similar to a Storybook Opening, displaying an open book with literal chapter titles. Sometimes the movie preserves the original chapter titles from its source material (if it is an adaptation). Some chapter titles indicate a progression of time, such as days of the week or months of the year. In other cases, the chapter titles merely serve to separate and foreshadow different plot arcs or bring Idiosyncratic Episode Naming to a film. This may be done in the style of a Title Card.
- Tekkonkinkreet is split into five chapters (Summer/Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer), each introduced by a title card.
- In Clerks, there are frequent chapter titles which appear in white font on a plain black screen briefly. Most of the chapter titles are single obscure vocabulary words, like "Perspicacity" or "Dénouement."
- Not only do many Quentin Tarantino films have chapter titles—they even share the same style: Title In with white font on a black screen.
- In Pulp Fiction, there are several chapter titles throughout the movie shown in underlined white font on a black screen, such as "THE BONNIE SITUATION" and "THE GOLD WATCH."
- In Kill Bill, there are ten numbered and titled chapters throughout Vol. 1 & 2 (five in each), appearing in white font on a black screen, such as "Chapter Nine: ELLE and I."
- In Inglourious Basterds, there are five numbered and titled chapters, appearing in white font on a black screen, such as "Chapter Four: OPERATION KINO."
- In The Hateful 8, there are six numbered and titled chapters, appearing in white font on a black screen, such as "Chapter Four: Domergue's Got a Secret."
- Director Lars von Trier loves this trope:
- Breaking the Waves has seven chapters and an epilogue introduced with Title Ins on landscape shots.
- Melancholia has a Two-Act Structure in which each part is named after one of the sisters and is shown on a Title Card.
- Nymphomaniac has eight chapters with proper chapter screens before each new section.
- Wes Anderson favors chaptering.
- Donnie Darko creates suspense by counting down the time to Donnie's death with the use of title cards throughout the movie, e.g. "October 10 1988 (Twenty Days Remain)".
- Kubrick's The Shining is loosely divided by chapter screens for each new day of the week.
- Each new day in Se7en gets its own Title In with the name of the weekday.
- Gus Van Sant's Elephant comes in twelve chapters each named after and focusing on a different character.
- Argentinian movie The Aura is broken down in chapters for each weekday, displayed as as Title In.
- Gone Girl has the days counting up on screen as the search for the missing wife progresses, e.g. "July 9th (four days gone)"
- Ugly chapters each new the day of the week.
- Each day in Jeepers Creepers 2 gets its own Title In.
- The Hunt has a Title In for each new month as the story progresses.
- The Number 23 labels each new day on screen.
- April Showers has "Monday", "Tuesday", and so on.