A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
An iconic feature of James Bond films is undoubtedly the opening credits. Stylistic, sleek and visually stunning, the openings to various 007 pictures have sadly been the best part of the film for some.
What remains even more iconic however, is the accompanying music of the film, more specifically, the alternating themes for each individual instalment.
There is a symbiotic relationship between the visuals and music (the very foundation of cinema, one could say), but when captured so perfectly together in a Bond opening credit sequence, it makes for something truly special.
In recent years, the Daniel Craig-era opening credits have been beautiful and transfixing from a visual aspect (except perhaps 2008’s Quantum of Solace) whilst the themes have been equally as fitting (again, perhaps with the exception of Quantum of Solace…).
Personally, my favourite theme and opening to emerge in recent years is Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” which powerfully opened Craig’s first picture Casino Royale (2006). For me, it captured the classic essence of a Bond tune with a raw edge that helped paint a solid picture of the new-look 007 (or Jameson Bourned) that we were about to be introduced to.
The next two themes came from Jack White & Alicia Keys (a weaker example) and Adele, who single-handedly broke every record in history with the phenomenally successful theme for Skyfall in 2012.
The time has come to listen to what Sam Smith has conjured up as his theme for the forthcoming Spectre.
Not knowing what to expect from the versatile-but somewhat one-dimensional vocalist, intrigue, curiosity and a sense of yearning washed over me as I opened Spotify (admit it, the thought of a new Bond theme has most of us breaking a light sweat).
What came next was a four and a half-minute ballad that honestly didn’t demonstrate anything special.
Obviously and understandably attempting to recapture the audiences of Adele, the decision to appoint Sam Smith as the latest musical companion to 007 was not as tantalising as the rumours of Radiohead a few months ago. With Smith, one can’t help but assume that the safe option would be to produce something commercially appealing for the artist alone and not so much in relation to the story of Bond.
The Bond themes have been a mixed bag of genres, musicians and quality, ranging from classic orchestra pieces to pop hits and even glam-rock belters, so to expect something in between could be seen as presumptuously pessimistic, however it’s far easier to play it safe in this day and age, especially during a serious return to form for the franchise.
“Writing’s On The Wall”, the Spectre theme gives listeners a fair dose of Smith’s angelic falsetto, all the while keeping with the slower-paced nature of Adele’s “Skyfall” and classics of the past alike (take “You Only Live Twice” or “Thunderball” for example).
The orchestral aspects are classic as far as Bond is concerned, however the overall structure of the theme is dull and uninteresting. It doesn’t feel like a Bond theme, vocally at least.
The orchestral strings and drums could easily be replaced by a synthesised hook and released on the top-40 charts for the target demographic of 13-17 year-olds.
Ultimately, had the theme been given to Thom Yorke and Radiohead, who knows what we would’ve been presented with. Sam Smith’s efforts are adequate, however there isn’t much within “Writing’s On The Wall” to warrant numerous replays.
When Spectre finally comes to town, we all will undoubtedly be drooling with anticipation, however one thing is for sure, we’ll (or at least I’ll) be hoping for some pretty spectacular visuals to draw attention away from the fairly average theme…