When it comes James Bond, it’s never been so much a choice of “style over substance” as it has been “style is the substance” for the franchise, a motif that has only very recently deviated (ever so slightly) during Daniel Craig’s tenure in the role. Speaking of which, No Time to Die—Bond’s 25th outing, as well as Craig’s final outing in the role—is set to premiere tonight in London, capping off a very long, much delayed road to theaters. To celebrate, we encourage you to look back at both the style and the substance of one of the series’ most iconic images: the gun barrel intro sequence.
Although published a couple years back on RogerEbert.com (when many of us innocently assumed No Time to Die’s release was just around the corner), Charlie Brigden’s retrospective analysis is making the internet rounds once again for obvious reasons. The detailed examination of the big and small artistic licenses (to kill) taken by composers over the decades shows, among many other bits of trivia, how Bond not so much set the trends of the time as mirrored them, alternating between “classic cool” and “attempted edginess commensurate with the times”
“But while the gun barrel has not changed a great deal visually, one element that has evolved constantly is the music, often used by the composer to put an immediate stylistic stamp on the score and to let the audience know exactly what they’re in for.”
Pretty much every franchise entry is taken into account within Brigden’s rundown, highlighting the minutiae that resulted in varying degrees of success. For every elegant Goldfinger intro there’s an EDM-ified Goldeneye, which of course begs the question: Just how will Craig’s Bond bid us his final intro-kill farewell? We know Billie Eilish is responsible for the opening song this time around, so... perhaps it’s shot to look like a TikTok video? Maybe Bond will do one of those cute choreographic meme-jigs before shooting audiences. It’d be a helluva high note to go out on for Craig, that’s for sure.
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