Spectre

Spectre -->

Posted March 7, 2021 by AI

On a rogue mission in Mexico City Bond kills an assassin. Back in London, Bond is grounded by M but confides in Moneypenny that he was acting on orders from the previous M before she died. Bond travels to Rome and infiltrates a secret meeting, but their leader Franz Oberhauser, reveals Bond’s presence. The terrifying Hinx pursues Bond in a car chase. In Austria, Bond meets his old nemesis Mr White and makes a promise to keep Mr White’s daughter safe in exchange for leading him to Oberhauser. The daughter, Dr Madeleine Swann, is reluctant to help, but after Bond rescues her from Hinx she agrees. She reveals the secret organisation is SPECTRE. Swann leads Bond to Tangier and from there they journey by train to a desert location, Swann makes Bond question the life he has chosen for himself. Hinx appears and a vicious fight ensues. At a high-tech facility in the desert Bond and Swann meet Oberhauser, He amasses information to manipulate events and is about to gain control of a global surveillance network. After Oberhauser tortures Bond and reveals himself to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Bond and Swann escape and destroy the base. In London Bond debriefs M, is captured by Blofeld, then rescues Swann. Bond has the opportunity to kill Blofeld but decides to let him live. Bond joins Swann, leaving his old life behind.

Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

Michael G. Wilson Barbara Broccoli

Release Date

26 October 2015 (UK) 6 November 2015 (USA)

World Premiere

26 October 2015, The Royal Albert Hall, London

Pinewood Studios, London locations, UK; Lake Altaussee, Obertilliach and Sölden, Austria; Rome, Italy; Mexico City, Mexico; Tangier, Erfoud and Sahara desert, Morocco

“Writing’s On The Wall” – performed by Sam Smith, written by Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes

Aston Martin DB5 , Aston Martin DB10 , Jaguar C-X75 , Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, Land Rover Discovery Sport SVR, Land Rover Defender Big Foot,  Fiat 500, Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander aircraft, McDonnell Douglas MD500E, AgustaWestland AW109. Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm Bo 105

Gadgets/Weapons/Technology

  • Smart Blood tracking device
  • Omega Seamaster 300 with two-tone NATO strap. Built in explosive charge with a one-minute timer
  • Blofeld’s torture chair
  • Nine Eyes Surveillance System
  • Laser microphone attached to Bond’s gun
  • Hinx’s thumbnails

The pre-title Day of the Dead sequence employed 1,520 extras, dressed and made up by 107 different make-up artists, 98 of whom were local. On each working day it took three and a half hours to get the crowd prepared

The Red Bull helicopter that featured in the pre-title sequence is built especially for barrel-rolling and free-diving and piloted by aerobatic pilot Chuck Aaron

Spectre marked the first time Bond has filmed in Rome, Italy

It was also the first time Aston Martin and the Bond production team collaborated on creating a new car designed specifically for the film with the DB10

Stefan Zurcher began looking for appropriate locations in Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France, 12 months before shooting commenced. His first Bond film was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service where he played a Piz Gloria guard. He continued to work on eight more Bond films in different capacities. He is also known as “The Snowman”

The exterior of the Ice Q in Solden was selected for the start of the chase. The main outdoor set was constructed in Obertilliach, a small village with 500 inhabitants in the Austrian Tirol

Two 20 tonne cranes were used in order to simulate the flight in the forest. The plane was 18m wide and the path through the trees was only 20m wide. Special carbon fibre cables were used between the cranes. Laser equipment was used to ensure the one kilometre path through the trees was in a straight line

A snow team of 30 people worked round the clock to guarantee perfect snow conditions on the road and in the forest

Spectre includes a Guinness World Record for the largest on screen explosion (of Blofeld’s lair)

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Every Pre-Credits Sequence from Daniel Craig’s James Bond Movies, Ranked

What makes a great opening scene?

[Editor's note: The following contains spoilers for No Time to Die.] One of the norms of James Bond films has been the opening teasers. Aside from Dr. No , which was the very first adaptation of the Ian Fleming novels, all the other films in the franchise have had a pre-credits sequence. While the Sean Connery era established these cold opens as a franchise trademark, the Roger Moore films turned them into the action set pieces we’ve grown to expect. But the Daniel Craig films, and especially No Time to Die , have tried something a little different. Craig’s swan song as Bond was the longest film in the franchise’s history, and the pre-title sequences set the stage by clocking in at a whopping 20+ minutes.

So how successful were the Craig pre-credits sequences? We take a look back at all five films and rank the openings. This ranking is based on how memorable each sequence was, what worked, what didn’t, and most importantly, how exhilarating the action was.

RELATED: Every Daniel Craig Bond Villain, Ranked

5. Quantum of Solace

Daniel Craig’s sophomore turn as James Bond was unfortunately the least successful. Quantum of Solace is universally considered the poorest entry in the new era, and the opening sequence is indicative of that.

Clocking in at only four minutes, this short teaser was a quintessential, heart-thumping chase scene. This was as James Bond as it gets. Bond is in a cool car, he’s got villains on his tail, and there’s seemingly no end to the frenzy and stunt work on display. But these are also the reasons the film’s opener is last on the list—a chase is all it was. And a chaotic, haphazardly edited one at that.

A lot of this sequence looks like a car ad. We all love a good shot of a gorgeous Aston Martin, but that’s not what a Bond film in 2008 should have been focusing on. The quick cuts also made it impossible to contextualize what was going on. At one point one of the black cars crashes and you don’t know if it’s Bond who’s crashed until he reappears. There’s nothing wrong with a simple car chase, but it still has to be a good one.

4. No Time to Die

No Time to Die has the longest pre-credits sequence in James Bond history and it packed in a lot. Unlike the majority of the franchise, this film begins with a flashback to Madeleine’s ( Léa Seydoux ) past and her connection with the man who becomes the primary villain of the film , Lyutsifer Safin ( Rami Malek ). The scene then changes to the present where Bond and Madeleine are holidaying in Matera, Italy. A prolonged romantic moment is followed by a stunning chase along the narrow ancient streets before the final twist—Bond abandons Madeleine, thinking she betrayed him.

Young Madeleine’s ( Coline Defaud ) trials were overly long and quite distressing since it centered on a small child. The scenes with Bond and older Madeleine had a little bit of everything: explosions, hand to hand combat, car chases and shootouts. The scenes also set up the central mysteries that tied into the emotional core of Bond’s characterization in the film. It’s a lot to take in and one can’t help but wonder if the film suffered by trying to include too much in its cold open.

There were a few things that saved No Time to Die from the last spot on this list. The sound editing was spectacular, as were the motorcycle stunts in the action set piece. And we’ve never seen Bond look happier—except once before in On Her Majesty's Secret Service , which No Time to Die directly references with refrains from Louis Armstrong ’s “We Have All the Time in the World”.

After the disappointment of Quantum of Solace , director Sam Mendes had his work cut out for him for the third Craig entry. And he came out all guns blazing with Skyfall . The film kicks off with a stunning, adrenaline-pumping action set piece. Bond is in the field with newbie Eve Moneypenny ( Naomie Harris ) chasing a valuable MacGuffin, and both of them have M ( Judi Dench ) at MI6 headquarters barking orders at them. Backing up M is Tanner ( Rory Kinnear ) and a huge team of agents ready to send medical evacs and pull security footage when needed. Bond is usually seen as a bit of lone wolf and the rest of MI6 are merely weapons in his arsenal, so Skyfall gave viewers a different perspective on Bond’s role and place within the organization.

The opening teaser is tightly shot and tense. Bond’s personality shines through as he attempts to risk his mission to save a colleague from bleeding out before begrudgingly following orders. He’s also an astute field operative which becomes obvious in the chase through Istanbul. Bond doesn’t need to be behind the wheel to help Moneypenny out.

The train fight scene is superbly choreographed and suspenseful. But nothing beats the cliffhanger. Moneypenny is ordered to take a shot despite the risk of hitting Bond, and winds up shooting him. Bond falls into the water and straight into the title sequence, with the audience left pondering his fate for almost five minutes.

Skyfall is regarded by many as one of the greatest entries in the franchise , and that tone is set by this tense opener.

2. Casino Royale

It’s hard to imagine that when Daniel Craig was first cast as James Bond, the announcement was met with vocal outrage . People were willing to write him off even before he’d shot a scene, but 15 years later Craig has helped rejuvenate the franchise.

With their backs against the wall, the creators of Casino Royale had to think outside the box. And they did! Adapted from the first book by Fleming, director Martin Campbell (who also helmed Goldeneye ) introduces the new Bond in a completely black and white palette. We follow a corrupt MI6 section chief named Dryden ( Malcolm Sinclair ), who is so condescending towards Bond he might as well have been a stand-in for one of Craig’s critics. We learn through this scene that we’re meeting a very green Bond—he hasn’t even earned his 00 status yet, but he’s getting there.

Let’s be honest: we watch Bond films for the glamor and the high-octane action. There’s a tendency to forget that Bond is a spy first, so the creators made the smart move to tone down the action and focus more on that aspect of Bond’s role. The tension in the scene crescendos as the banter between Dryden and Bond plays out. We really don’t know who has the upper hand here. Interwoven with the almost static scenes in Dryden’s office is a raw and visceral fight between Bond and Dryden’s contact, in a restroom of all places. The flashbacks of the fight are grainy, a nod to both the franchise’s long history and even to the spoof Bond film of the same name.

The sequence closes with a witty remark from Bond welcoming viewers to a new era in the franchise .

“The dead are alive” is the portentous title card of Spectre , which then fades into the now iconic opening sequence during Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The pre-title sequence weaves through a gigantic parade in the streets of Mexico City before settling on a masked couple heading into a hotel. It’s not long before the masks are off and the wearers revealed to be Bond and a soon-to-be-forgotten Bond girl, Estrella ( Stephanie Sigman ). Bond takes off to follow his quarry across rooftops.

While Skyfall arguably has the perfect Bond opener, Spectre pips it to the post by being daring. The first half of the opener is an almost five-minute long single take (in actuality some clever edits and CGI were used to remove the cuts) that sucks the audience into the scene. The technique is practically flawless and absolutely breath-taking. The camera weaves through the crowds and then zooms in to focus only on Bond and Estrella, keeping viewers in the moment. And then, when the camera follows Bond strolling across the rooftops, just watching Craig’s precise movements is enthralling.

And the teaser doesn’t end there! As the massive crowd enjoys the celebrations, Bond gets into fisticuffs in a helicopter. There’s a real sense of peril, not only for Bond but the hapless crowds beneath him, as Bond tries to fight off the villains and take control of the chopper. We’re left heaving a sigh of relief when Bond is victorious. But then the real mystery begins—what was that insignia on his quarry’s ring?

The gorgeous cinematography and camera work, plus the Day of the Dead setting, vaulted the pre-credits sequence in Spectre above the rest.

SPECTRE ( 2015 )

SPECTRE

You are a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr. Bond.

The title sequence of any James Bond film often has the heaviest burden to carry. It must recall the brand, ooze style, establish tone, excite and awe, all while living up to the high standards set by its predecessors – and Skyfall is a tough act to follow. But as Sam Smith’s mournful theme “Writing’s on the Wall” says: “I’ve been here before.”

It’s a formula we’ve come to relish, and one unlike any other in title design: the women, the weapons, and Bond, tangled among it all. For the opening of SPECTRE , the 24th film in the series, Bond title design stalwart Daniel Kleinman , studio Rattling Stick , and the visual effects team at Framestore assemble a powerful mix of imagery to reintroduce the British super spy and his foe du jour. Flesh, flames, and those sticky, reaching tentacles call back to previous Craig-era 007 adventures with fleeting glimpses of old allies and adversaries. The combination, though familiar in its routine, is executed flawlessly. Coupled with Smith’s driving and impassioned theme, the sequence is easily one of 2015’s strongest as well as a standout entry in the Bond stable.

A discussion with Title Designer DANIEL KLEINMAN of Rattling Stick and VFX Supervisor WILLIAM BARTLETT of Framestore.  This isn’t your first rodeo with 007, but this is your second collaboration with director Sam Mendes. What was the first meeting about this sequence like?

Daniel: We met quite early on. I think it was January [2015]... I think they’d just started filming. Basically what happens is I get sent the script, I read it, brainstorm some ideas, and then pass it by Sam and the producers. Sam had written a couple of things in the script, a couple of images that he wanted in the title sequence, just to help with the clarity of the story. So I riffed on that a bit and came up with some ideas and went and met with Sam and Barbara Broccoli.

Barbara Broccoli is an American film producer best known for producing the James Bond film series. She is the daughter of original 007 franchise producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli.

I just showed them sketches, nothing in order or anything, literally just images that I’d sketched and put together, which he very much liked. But the script gets heavily worked on while they’re in the process of filming, so even though I’m reading the script that they start shooting the film with, it changes on almost a daily basis. They have the writers there writing the entire time. So some of the things that I was doing became not so relevant, some of the scenes changed, and so on. I have to be a little bit fluid and flexible.

IMAGE: SPECTRE Director Sam Mendes

SPECTRE director Sam Mendes on location

Is that a typical process for you on these projects? Has it been like that on past 007 films?

Daniel: No. The initial thing is always the same: I get the call, I get asked if I’m up for doing it, and I say “Yes, please!” [laughs] I always read the script first. Some other directors that I’ve worked with – each one is different – some of them are just so busy and aren’t that interested in getting involved in the main title – they leave me to it. And that’s fine by me.

But Sam is different. Sam’s a bit more hands-on. He likes getting involved. He’s got his finger in every single bit of it, you know? It doesn’t matter if you’re the hair stylist or the art director, Sam will be there, saying, I think it should be like that! And then he does change his mind quite often. [laughs]

[laughs] That sounds about right. What were the images that were there early in the script, that Sam had indicated?

Daniel: One of the key ones was the use of the octopus. I mean, that’s fairly obvious because the logo of SPECTRE is the little octopus, but that was the key image, the key thing that made me feel that I wanted to have ideas based around it.

I watched a lot of real octopus footage and I noticed that when they swim away, if they’re frightened, or they’re trying to disguise themselves or confuse an enemy, they spurt out ink. So I started doing these little drawings of octopuses flying around with ink coming out and I realized it sort of looked like bullets flying through the air, sort of trailing smoke.

IMAGE: SPECTRE Octopus Sketch

Daniel:  Then I thought, I’m getting somewhere here, I can use that. I started thinking about making the octopus more metaphorical rather than literal. There’s that little scene with the lovers at the beginning, where you think it’s just the couple and then the octopus is sort of mingling in – it’s a sort of ménage-a-trois with a couple and an octopus, which is a bit bizarre I suppose [laughs].

IMAGE: Still – Couple and octopus / menage-a-trois

Daniel:  But it’s the idea that this relationship that Bond is having is maybe being manipulated – perhaps the lady isn’t who she says she is. The story in the film, as you probably know, is that his whole life is kind of being orchestrated by this other person…

His strings are being pulled… Daniel: Exactly. I was trying to suggest that. So I did some drawings of couples embracing with octopus tentacles coming up behind them or wrapping around them and Sam really liked that.

So once you have those initial concepts and Sam and the producers like it, what’s the next step in the process?

Daniel: So that first stage is just a list of ideas and a pile of drawings. I fine tune them, I work on them, think how they could be made into moving images, how one might transform into another, put them in a sequence and try to think about what order might make them work together.

IMAGE: SPECTRE Daniel Kleinman Hotel

Kleinman's hotel room in Barcelona, Spain where the sequence was conceptualized.

At that point I may or may not have the music, which is also a little bit of a problem because quite often that comes in rather late in the day. So I still have to stay flexible. Obviously I want it to link to the lyrics, but if I don’t know what the lyrics are… [laughs] Once I hear the music I often have to swap the scenes around quite a bit. But I try to get a storyboard order. With any luck I will have heard the song by that point – or at least an edit that will end up being the main title music.

They record a song that’s five or six minutes long, which is far too long for the sequence, so that then goes off and gets edited down. I try to guess where the music edit might be, but I’m usually completely wrong so I have to change things around again. If Sam and the producers have got time or they’re in the country, I’ll run it past them again to make sure we’re all on the same page.

William, you’ve worked on a number of Bond titles with Daniel now. How did you first become involved in the series?

William: Funnily enough the first ever job I worked with Danny on was the music video for “Tomorrow Never Dies” – Sheryl Crow's Bond theme. Framestore had created the title sequence with Danny too, but I had not been involved as I was new and was doing other stuff. In fact the VFX for Tomorrow Never Dies and GoldenEye , the two sequences that Framestore worked with Danny on that I didn't supervise, were overseen by Tim Webber, who recently won an Oscar for his work as VFX Supervisor on Gravity .

VIDEO: Music Video – Sheryl Crow - Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Sheryl Crow's "Tomorrow Never Dies" music video, directed by Daniel Kleinman

William: Although the music video had gone well, I didn't work with Danny again for a few years as I was still pretty junior and Danny was working with more established supervisors. We then started working together on several adverts from about 2000 and when Die Another Day came around I was very excited to get involved.

So at what point in the process do you and the visual effects team at Framestore get involved in SPECTRE ?

William: Danny will usually come and talk to us once he’s read the script and had an initial think about the themes and ideas he wants to base the titles around. He has a very thorough understanding of visual effects and what we do, so he’ll already have a pretty clear idea of which bits to shoot and which bits to create in post.

What are the first steps for you as the Visual Effects Supervisor?

William: On most VFX work the requirements are pretty fixed when you start a job. The VFX supervisor's role is to advise on how to create the desired images through a combination of shooting, CG, and compositing, and then oversee that work.

Bond is different as the ideas are far more nebulous. The first steps involve a lot of back-and-forth with Danny. He’ll go through his drawings and thoughts on the main themes and then we go away and try to flesh them out a bit. We work up concept art and look at development tests and offer up other ideas. New developments in software and processing power continuously open up new visual possibilities and so we’re always looking at what new tools we have that might bring something new. We try to share as much of this as possible with Danny so he can take it all away and refine his overall concept.

VIDEO: Animatic – SPECTRE (2015)

Excerpt from the SPECTRE title sequence animatic 

Daniel, once William and Framestore are on board, what happens next?

Daniel: The next process is shooting elements in the studio. I often have to do that in two parts, particularly if I want one of the actors. If I want Daniel Craig in the sequence I have to wait until the movie is finished filming. So I film all the bits I can because I have to get going. Sometimes I film a double of him so I can get on with the edit and work out what he does. Then I get a day with him right at the end of the main film schedule, I film the bits of him, and I sort of slot them.

Do you have a go-to Daniel Craig double that you use for all the sequences?

Daniel: [laughs] No, I don’t. It’s quite difficult to find one, actually! I used his stunt double from the movie, Bobby Holland Hanton, who happened to be around when I was filming. I was able to have him for a day. But the thing with Daniel Craig is that he’s very, very idiosyncratic. The way he moves, the way he looks, the intensity of his presence – it’s very difficult to emulate. Even sort of running around pointing a gun, you notice that it’s not him if it’s someone else doing it. The double is literally just a placeholder until I can get Daniel.

IMAGE: BTS Photo 01 – Woman in dress

Using dancers takes it one step away from reality, makes it more artistic and less literal.

IMAGE: BTS Photo 07 – Daniel Craig and women

Were you able to work with any of the other actors? Léa Seydoux?

Daniel: No, I used doubles. I would have liked to have access to them, but they weren’t around. So it was only Daniel Craig. Anyone else who is supposed to be someone in the film were doubles, but I tried not to make them obvious doubles, they’re more like ciphers, they’re more representations of characters. I try not to be too damn literal with it… [laughs]

What does the casting sheet look like when you put out a call for these doubles? “Must resemble Daniel Craig and be good with octopuses”?

Daniel: [laughs] Well, we do a casting session that’s like anything else. I mean, it’s slightly embarrassing, you get these two people who don’t really know each other, get them to smooch a bit and to pretend that there’s an octopus in between them. [laughs] It’s really quite a surreal casting session. I use dancers mostly because actors wouldn’t really get the movement that you need. Dancers are more sensitive to it. There’s a bit where one of the guys I used sort of strokes his hand around the shoulder of one of the girls and that’s rather sensitively done. I think using dancers takes it one step away from reality, makes it more artistic and less literal.

You get these two people who don’t really know each other, get them to smooch a bit and to pretend that there’s an octopus in between them.

How involved is the VFX team in the studio shoot?

William: We are very involved in the shoot – and not just because of the girls! We tend to shoot a lot of elements, too. For SPECTRE we shot a lot of ink in a cloud tank – water elements and burning photos, for example.

The first edit tends to be pretty rough as so much is dependent on post work to get a proper sense of how long shots should be or what they’ll look like. A good deal of the shots are totally created in post and so they’re often still storyboard frames when the first edit is put together.

Tell us a bit about the production teams at Rattling Stick and Framestore. Who does what and how do you work together?

Daniel:  Well, it’s morphed over the years. In the old days what I used to do was film the sequence and then edit it in a non-digital, analogue way, and then it’d be copied in high resolution. That was how I did it on GoldenEye – that was the technology at the time. You’d just sit there and do it all with an editor, but these days the technology is so advanced that all that side bit – the special effects – they take a long time and a lot of people, in lots of different rooms at Framestore.

IMAGE: Kleinman and Bartlett working at Framestore in front of computers

VFX Supervisor William Bartlett (L) and Title Designer Daniel Kleinman (R) working at Framestore in London, United Kingdom

Daniel:  My company puts the shoot together, puts all the logistics together, films it, and does all the liaising, and then once I’ve edited the pictures together roughly in sequence to the music – it would be very, very basic because we wouldn’t have done any of the special effects – then it goes to Framestore. I discuss with William about what I expect each scene to be like. It’s just a couple kissing in front of a blue screen or whatever it is and then I explain what’s happening, what I think the background should be, if I want to put a camera move on it, where I want the CG octopus to come around, and then we work on it together for a good thirteen months.

That’s a long haul…

Daniel:  It is. But I don’t work on it exclusively myself. I do other things because it can take up to a week to create and process one very complex sequence, so I can’t sit there twiddling my thumbs, drinking tea while a computer is chugging through for a week. I’m doing other things at the same time. But for Framestore it’s a massive job. They pull in practically everybody in the building and everyone’s working on some part of it. The amount of effort they put in is in no way commensurate to what they get paid for it. They do it for love.

VIDEO: VFX Breakdown 1 – Fire and women

SPECTRE  title sequence fire and women VFX breakdown

That seems to be par for the course in the VFX industry these days.

Daniel:  I think the whole thing with the Bond series is that it’s such a wonderful, lovely, iconic thing to be a part of, that everyone just enjoys doing. A lot of these folks are not just technicians, they’re artists and designers in their own right, so I try to let them have input. Sometimes they do add things which I don’t expect, and I like it. Sometimes I don’t. “No, I don’t want that!” [laughs] But I keep an open mind. I try to keep the process creative enough that everybody feels like they can contribute.

There’s a number of elements from other Bond films in the sequence – images of deceased characters like Vesper Lynd, M, Silva, and Le Chiffre. How was that handled, and what sort of challenges did getting that footage pose?

Daniel: That was actually one of the ideas that Sam wrote himself – a two-line description of what he imagined to be in the titles – to reprise some of the characters from the previous films. To sort of help people’s memory, if they’ve seen the previous films, who Silva was from Skyfall , that Vesper is from Casino Royale – even though that wasn’t one of Sam’s movies. To remind them that M is dead. Just to take little moments with those characters. I think it fit in with the lyric about fragments of memories. So I did use bits of footage from those movies for that.

spectre pre title sequence

Image set: Raoul Silva, Vesper Lynd, Le Chiffre, and M, as they appear in the SPECTRE title sequence.

Daniel:  I wanted to go back to the rushes and use shots of those actors which hadn’t been used in the films, so that they were fresh. But we ran into all sorts of contractual problems about using performances that weren’t in the movie. I just didn’t have time for all that. So I just thought, alright, I’ll just find good bits from the actual movies. I manipulated them, cut them out and changed them, so it wasn’t just literally a shot from the previous film. I tried to make it a bit more interesting.

So that was Sam’s idea from the beginning. This movie, SPECTRE , the storylines of all of the movies Daniel Craig has done all kind of come together. So to get full joy from the movie you have to have a little bit of knowledge of the past three films. It’s kind of like the beginning of a TV series – in last week’s episode this is what happened! [laughs]

Let’s talk about the music a little bit more. Radiohead recorded a version of the SPECTRE opening and released it online recently . Was that ever part of the conversations you were involved with?

Daniel: I haven’t heard it! I think I did know that they’d done one, but I hadn’t heard it. Is it any good?

Radiohead's unused version of the SPECTRE main title theme

The reaction seems to be split. We like it. It’s interesting to hear them riff on a Bond main title theme.

Daniel: Oh, really? No, I was never involved with that. I did hear quite early versions of Sam Smith’s song. I know that Sam Mendes wanted to change some of the lyrics, which I think Sam Smith was fine about doing. In true Sam Mendes style he wasn’t scared about getting in there, changing it, and doing his thing. Which is good, it shows that he cares.

IMAGE: Sam Mendes and Sam Smith BTS Photo

SPECTRE director Sam Mendes with performing artist Sam Smith

So do you prep the teams with reference material? You know, give them some octopus footage to watch or tell them to go look at Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife … What do you do in that respect?

Daniel: Absolutely! Yeah, we get loads of reference. We look at the reference as we go into this. One of the slightly blind alleys we went down to begin with was that the octopus was quite realistic. It could almost have been a nature program octopus. The guys that do the CG animals at Framestore, they’re used to making animals for adverts or a movie or whatever, and so they are trying to make it as absolutely realistic as possible so that it doesn’t look CG. Whereas actually making this a realistic octopus was not right – we could see immediately. It looked like a real, just-come-out-of-the-sea type octopus. It just didn’t work. It wasn’t really that ominous and didn’t seem to fit in, and so we had to stylize the octopus, make it a bit more of a kind of emblem. It was more the logo come to life than a real octopus.

IMAGE: Still – SPECTRE logo on ring

The octopus logo on a ring in the  SPECTRE  title sequence

William: It was a major technical challenge due to the extraordinary way octopuses can move. Anyone involved in animation or rigging – the process of setting the controls and defining the movement parameters of CG objects for the animators – will have a pretty good idea of the kind of challenges we faced. It can squash and stretch, slither, move like it’s controlled from the tip – inverse kinematics – or like it’s controlled from the base – forward kinematics. They’re strong and powerful and at the same time delicate and cloth-like. I have never worked on a project before where the rigging finished after the animation!

The computer-generated octopus as it appears in the SPECTRE title sequence

William:  Aesthetically, too, we took a while to find the right vibe. The original way it was lit and rendered was based on trying to make it look “real” but as if it was underwater. The way we were animating it suggested it was underwater and so we took that as the starting point for the look, too. Although it looked beautiful and real it did not look especially menacing and frankly not appropriate as the metaphorical embodiment of a global crime organization! Danny directed us to go much more towards a black slimy look that seemed much more sinister and was much more successful. We expected the octopus would be tricky and it certainly turned out that way!

What cameras were you shooting on and what software was used to create this?

Daniel: In terms of equipment, we hire in the crew, I direct the crew, but we don’t actually have equipment ourselves.

When I’m editing at home I just use Final Cut Pro. We shot on Alexas, digitally. My DP, Franz Lustig, liaised with Hoyte Van Hoytema, the cameraman on the main film, to try to make the look and the colour space match. But the main film was being shot on film and we just couldn’t shoot on film. It wasn’t practical for us to physically shoot on film because of the number of special effects needed. So we tried to make the footage from the Alexa cameras look as filmic as possible.

VIDEO: SPECTRE VFX Breakdown 2

SPECTRE title sequence VFX breakdown

William:  We shot mainly on an Alexa with spherical lenses, as we were going to be doing a lot of manipulation and so wanted the maximum information we could capture. We added in a lot of depth of field to match into an anamorphic style, oval bokeh, as well as sampling lens distortions and other aberrations including grain. The main weapons of choice were Nuke and Houdini. There were some bits and pieces done with Maya and the titles themselves were prepared on Flame. We also used Hiero as the editorial hub.

How big was Framestore’s team on this?

William: It went up and down over the course of the project. During the early tests it was only me and a couple of other people, but as we got further it grew to about 25 at its panic – I mean peak...

Daniel: My job is really to try to keep everybody on message, to head towards the same direction. You’ve got so many different people working on it, you just want to keep everybody focused on creating the same end result.

It was a cast of thousands…

Daniel: It is. It’s amazing. It really is.

IMAGE: SPECTRE Octopus Sketch 2

Concept sketch by Daniel Kleinman

IMAGE: SPECTRE Octopus Final Still

Scene from the SPECTRE title sequence featuring Kleinman's original concept

Is there a specific shot in the sequence that you’re really happy with?

William: The thing I am most happy with on this and the other sequences I have supervised is the balance and consistency of the overall aesthetic.

Daniel: I thought the bit with the lovers and the octopus's arms coming ’round them just had the right level of sensuality but creepy weirdness to it. I was quite pleased with that. It’s kind of attractive but repellent at the same time.

IMAGE: SPECTRE Blu-ray Box Art

Available on Digital HD, DVD, and Blu-ray

[laughs] Actually, this one bit that the producers and Sam just wouldn’t let me do – at the end of that little sequence with all the lovers kissing and the octopus, there’s this close-up of two mouths coming together. Originally I was going to have the girl’s tongue coming out of the girl’s mouth going into the male mouth, but it wasn’t a tongue, it was an octopus tentacle. And they all just went, “Yeccchhhh, that’s too much!” So that hit the cutting room floor! [laughs] I’d gone too far! 

Your work has made you experts in this field, so let’s talk a little bit about the history of the series. Looking back at past Bond titles, do you have a personal favourite? Is there one that you think doesn’t get talked about enough?

Daniel: Oh yeah! There’s so many of them that I think are brilliant. I love them, I loved them as a kid. I still think my favourite is You Only Live Twice , which I just think is a really beautiful sequence. It’s my favourite song of the Bond title songs. I just love the Japanese imagery, the colours, the volcanoes, the geisha girls, and the clever way Maurice [Binder] got the parasols without paper on them to open up like flowers or explosions. So it’s just a really great sequence.

VIDEO: Title Sequence – You Only Live Twice (1967)

You Only Live Twice  (1967) title sequence, designed by  Maurice Binder

William: A View to a Kill always sticks in my mind. It might be the mad image of a woman skiing on top of a bonfire, it might be the classic mid-’80s styling, or it might be the way the 007 logo is revealed.

VIDEO: Title Sequence – A View to a Kill (1985)

A View to a Kill (1985) title sequence, designed by  Maurice Binder

Daniel: It’s an amazing heritage. I don’t do any other sequences, you know, I do Bond because given the choice you can’t not do it. It’s part of film history and it’s a privilege to be doing it.

View the credits for this sequence

Studio: Rattling Stick Director: Daniel Kleinman Producer: Johnnie Frankel Directors of Photography: Franz Ludig, John de Borman Editor: Julian Tranquille

VFX Studio: Framestore VFX Supervisor: William Bartlett CG Supervisor: Simon French Compositing Supervisor: Russell Dodgson Animation Lead: Gez Wright FX Supervisor: Martin Aufinger Producer: Helen Hughes Line Producer: Tanya Ligertwood Editor: Rob Jewell Flame: Tim Osborne 2D Artists: Jason Phua, Steph Joy, Manuel Perez, Jesse Spielman, Leonardo Costa, Owen Carroll Paint/Roto: Elise Smulova, Kane Herd, Matthew Thomas, Sam Curtis, Katie Isaksen, Saruta Pisanwalerd 3D Artists: Joseph Kane, Nikolai Moderthoner, Mary Doyle, Charlie Bayliss, Robert Harrington, Tim Jenkinson, Alex Doyle, Aziz Kocanaogullari, Jean-Claude Nuchy, Anthony Vincent, Chris Bore, Maru Ocantos, Oliver Markowski Rigging: Kimon Matara

Music: “Writing’s On The Wall” by Sam Smith

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James Bond: 50 Years of Main Title Design

James Bond: 50 Years of Main Title Design

Skyfall

Quantum of Solace

Casino Royale

Casino Royale

Dr. No

Screen Rant

Daniel craig as james bond: his 5 best pre-title movie sequences, ranked.

The pre-title action sequence is a proud Bond movie tradition. Daniel Craig's Bond films helped to evolve that tradition.

Ever since Sean Connery’s 007 blew up a drug laboratory in the opening scene of Goldfinger , every James Bond movie has opened with an action-packed pre-title set-piece to draw fans to the edge of their seats before they’re inundated with opening credits and mission-briefing exposition from M. Traditionally, these pre-title sequences begin with Bond in the middle of a mission and end with a triumphant victory for the gentleman spy.

RELATED:  Ranking Every Villain In Daniel Craig's James Bond Movies

Daniel Craig’s Bond movies had both traditional Bond openings and unconventional ones that helped to evolve this trope beyond its rigid guidelines. The cold opens of the Craig era saw Bond earning his license to kill, being shot off the roof of a moving train and presumed dead, and nearly crashing a helicopter into a Day of the Dead parade.

Quantum Of Solace

Unlike most of the Bond series’ cold opens, the beginning of Quantum of Solace follows on directly from the end of Casino Royale , with Mr. White in the trunk of Bond’s car . After 007 delivers Mr. White to M, he gets into a brutal fight with her double-crossing bodyguard.

This thrilling opening sequence is one of the best parts of the movie, but that’s not saying much about a movie that’s widely regarded to be the lowest point in the Craig era. The pre-title sequence has the same problem as the rest of the movie: it’s exciting, but it’s not very Bondian – it’s more befitting of a generic action thriller than a Bond film.

Just like Sam Smith’s theme song comes off as an attempt to replicate what worked in Adele’s Oscar-winning Skyfall theme, Spectre ’s opening sequence comes off as an attempt to replicate Skyfall ’s action-packed everything-but-the-kitchen-sink opening. Set during the Day of the Dead celebrations, this sequence sees a wall falling on Bond, who ends up in a fistfight aboard a helicopter spinning out of control. The action in this sequence is spectacular, but it’s far too CG-heavy. There are so many computer graphics in every frame that the scene plays like a video game.

RELATED:  Ranking Every Theme Song In Daniel Craig's James Bond Movies

Bond’s cold opens are traditionally used to show off the impressive work of the stunt team. The Union Jack parachute jump at the beginning of The Spy Who Loved Me is a prime example. In Spectre ’s opening, a CG building falls on Bond, then he commandeers a helicopter in front of a CG backdrop.

The unforgettable opening scene of Skyfall is one of the only pre-title sequences in which Bond loses. The cold opens usually culminate in a glorious win for 007, like destroying a drug lab ( Goldfinger ) or dropping Blofeld into a chimney ( For Your Eyes Only ), but the opening sequence of Skyfall ends with Bond’s supposed death.

On top of being a stunning action sequence, this opening subtly foreshadows the villain twist. M is shown to have a callous disregard for her agents’ lives as she orders Bond to abandon a mortally wounded Ronson and tells Moneypenny to “take the bloody shot” when she’s worried she might hit Bond. M’s attitude throughout this mission establishes that she values MI6’s intelligence goals over the wellbeing of her operatives, which ends up being the reason why she’s targeted by the villainous Raoul Silva .

This sequence has a few great action setups, like a rooftop motorcycle chase and a brutal fight on top of a moving train. Overall, it’s a thrilling set-piece with a subversive climax. Bond plunging into the water below beautifully sets the stage for Adele’s moody, melancholic, Bassey-esque theme song, one of the series’ all-time greatest themes.

Casino Royale

A decade after successfully reinventing the Bond franchise with GoldenEye , director Martin Campbell did it again with Casino Royale , a prequel introducing Daniel Craig’s Bond with a captivating origin story. The movie’s pre-title sequence begins with a black-and-white prologue detailing how he got his license to kill. With the visceral hand-to-hand combat and minimalist style of classic old-school spy thrillers, Campbell instantly establishes the rough, gritty tone of the movie in this prologue.

RELATED: 10 Ways Casino Royale Is Daniel Craig's Best Bond Film

Then, the movie gets into full swing with a breathtaking action sequence. Bond chases a perp across a construction site in Madagascar that sees the duo doing mind-blowing parkour from crane to crane. Moments like Bond crashing through a drywall show his inexperience as a newly recruited 00 agent, a running theme throughout the movie.

No Time To Die

At 20 minutes in length, No Time to Die ’s pre-title sequence is the longest in the series by far. It even opens with a pre-pre-title sequence, explaining Safin’s motivations through his failed attempted assassination of Mr. White. This cold open acts as a direct sequel to Spectre that ends with Bond mistakenly believing that Madeleine has betrayed him and cutting her out of his life.

Bond’s cold opens usually have one breathtaking action moment, but No Time to Die has a bunch : swinging from a bridge, jumping a motorcycle over a parade, showing off the arsenal of gadgets in Bond’s Aston Martin. Pitting 007 against Spectre’s top assassins was a great way to re-immerse fans in the pure escapism of the Bond franchise.

NEXT:  10 Ways No Time To Die Reinvigorated The James Bond Formula

The Making Of Spectre: The Original Empire Feature

Spectre

After Skyfall became the biggest Bond movie ever, its director Sam Mendes and his cast reunited for a follow-up that connected every film in the Daniel Craig era, returned to the dangling threads of Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, and (secretly) brought back one of 007’s most iconic villains. But it was a sometimes bumpy road there – and one that took in some of the most ambitious globe-trotting sequences in the franchise’s history…

PREVIOUS: The Making Of Skyfall

PART ONE: Mexico

Spectre – Empire November 2015

Words: Neil Alcock

I’ve never seen anything like it,” one of Spectre ’s cast tells Empire . “It’s so exciting, I cannot tell you. You have to pinch yourself. It’s… extraordinary.”

It’s a sultry March evening in Mexico City, and the topic under discussion is the traditionally eye-popping pre-title sequence of the 24th Bond film, currently shooting in the capital. You’d expect Johnny Extra to gush about anything they saw on a 007 set, but when the actor brandishing the superlatives has already demolished a canalside building in Venice, freefallen from a disintegrating DC-3 into a desert sinkhole and downed a helicopter by blowing up his character’s own ancestral home beneath it, you take them at their word. Yep, it’s fair to say that even Daniel Craig is impressed.

He’s not alone. Earlier that day, Empire is perched on a balcony of the city’s sumptuous gran hotel. Below us, in the Zócalo — Mexico City’s vast central square, bordered by a cathedral, a palace and various government buildings — a thousand extras, garbed in the macabre costumes of the country’s Day Of the Dead festival, are snaking their way towards an imposing, nightmarish stage erected at its centre. On the stage is the festival’s centrepiece, La Catrina: a giant grinning skull, 30 or 40 feet high, flanked on either side by two equally tall, cackling skeletons. another 500 extras, playing spectators, entertainers, police and soldiers, litter the square, while next to the stage is a beefy-looking military helicopter, which is about to embark on a less-than-smooth journey. It’s fair to say that we’re impressed too.

As, indeed, are some of the architects of the scene, who join us on the balcony: second unit director Alexander Witt, production designer Dennis Gassner, costume designer Jany Temime, and— quietly surveying the action like a proud parent on sports day — producer Michael G. Wilson. “This is the biggest opening sequence we’ve ever done, maybe the biggest [of any] sequence we’ve ever done,” he tells Empire , pondering the complex logistics of it all. “The only thing that’s come close to it was putting on the carnival in Rio in Moonraker . That was pretty big, getting all the costumes and people and dancers, and we’ve done that here, but it’s a much bigger operation.”

Spectre

Gassner is, if anything, even happier. in his off-white linen suit and fedora, the laid-back Canadian talks in an easy drawl (think Jeff Bridges playing Alan Grant) but becomes remarkably animated as he points out his team’s achievements. “Did you see what we’re doing out here?” he asks, gesturing at the Spectre -cle below. “I mean, look at that! When Mexico City and Day Of The Dead became part of the mix, we looked at it in a very excited way and said this could be an amazing opening. It’s always been a great event; I’ve seen bits and pieces of it, but not like this. I don’t think I’ll ever see it like this again!”

Witt, meanwhile, acknowledges the challenge of shutting down and taking over a major traffic hub in one of the world’s most populous cities. “It’s more challenging for the city than for us, to close down a square where all the roads come together, especially with the Mexican White House being part of the square.” The demands of the script don’t make life any easier, Witt explains: “It’s elaborate because you have 1,500 extras and you’ve got to fill up a square that you probably need two or three hundred thousand people to look like it’s full.” Indeed, as he speaks, ADs in the Zócalo herd the extras into different sections of the square, to be filmed in such a way that a composite image can be created later.

And then, of course, there’s the small matter of the aforementioned chopper, which will soon be involved in the hair-raising stunt seen in the second trailer: a 360-degree mid-air corkscrew that makes The Man With The Golden Gun ’s car-based spiral jump look like

a wheelie on a BMX... And Empire ’s hunch is that that might not even be the most mind-blowing thing you’ll see the helicopter do. To execute these amazing aerobatics, the production secured the services of top stunt pilot Chuck Aaron, one of just three people in the world licensed to perform them. In case you didn’t already wish you were him, Aaron goes by the call sign ‘Malibu’ and sports the kind of magnificent, twirlable moustache Bond villains only dream of.

That stunt follows a sequence of events that sees Bond going rogue to hunt down minor villain Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona) through the Day Of The Dead parade, leaving a typically insurance company-bothering trail of destruction behind him. There’s a commotion from the throng below us as Cremona bursts through the crowd and heads for the huey. He leaps in, but not before a familiar-looking secret agent (actually a stunt double) clambers aboard after him, and the helicopter’s inhabitants prepare for in-flight fisticuffs as it takes off, swooping low over the Zócalo’s grandiose rooftops.

Spectre

Expectations for the sequence are naturally high, especially given Skyfall ’s incredible opening jeep / motorbike / digger / train set-piece, and that’s both a burden and an incentive for cast and crew. Just ask the main man. “There’s a huge amount of pressure,” Craig tells Empire that evening. “But fantastic pressure, because I think we made a good movie [with Skyfall ]. By having Sam back we’ve created a language that’s one foot in the past but hopefully very modern as well, and we wanted to continue that. What you saw today is obviously a fantasy, helicopters don’t often fly down the main street of Mexico City... But hopefully [ Spectre ] is richer and the characters go a bit deeper.”

The one thing Craig wants to avoid, he tells us thoughtfully, is “mediocrity. It’s got to be spectacular and the best thing you can do.” On the basis of all that Empire has witnessed in Mexico City, mediocrity seems unlikely.

PART TWO: Austria

Spectre – Empire November 2015

Words: Phil de Semlyen

Perched by an Obertilliach ski slope high in the Austrian Tyrol, only a Spectre-issue Helly Hansen puffer jacket preventing the onset of hypothermia, Empire is shielding its eyes from the glare of sun on snow. Just behind are a group of schoolkids playing hooky to catch MI6 and SPECTRE doing battle for the first time since Never Say Never Again (or For Your Eyes Only , if they’re sticklers for canon). A hundred yards in front squats a two-tiered alpine barn that only five minutes earlier had been a hive of activity. The last of the stunt and explosives experts slowly depart the area. “No filming!” shouts a crew member as a curious local tees up a smartphone.

The skiers swishing blithely past have no idea that in a moment Her Majesty’s finest will be blasted across the valley in the battered cockpit of a light aircraft like a rocket-propelled rooster. Not the man himself, of course. You couldn’t hire a crash test dummy to sit in this cockpit, let alone the most heavily insured man in British cinema. Besides, Daniel Craig is back in Pinewood with Sam Mendes and the first unit, finishing the beginning of the action sequence that ends here.

It’s the kind of temporal brain-twister action movies of this scale throw up. Balance sheets and tight schedules have two separate crews working on the same scene hundreds of miles apart. The magic of cinema — and specifically that of editor Lee Smith — will render those joins undetectable. This set-up is the culmination of a three-part sequence that sees 007 pursue SPECTRE vehicles carrying henchman Hinx ( David Bautista ) and mysterious doctor Madeleine Swann ( Léa Seydoux ) — also Mr. White’s daughter — down a glacier, through a frozen forest and, by now wingless, through a barn. It’s the ‘through’ part the locals are so keen to witness. Any minute now, the rigged explosives will go off, propelling the front half of the Britten-Norman Islander into the thinnest of air. At least, that’s the plan.

It’s hard to imagine these second-unit crewmembers, most sporting campaign beards, as ‘second’ to anyone. They’re the highly drilled workhorses behind the latest stunt to gild James Bond’s rich history of carefully coordinated mayhem. In their 450-strong ranks are franchise veterans. The film’s affectionally dubbed “snow whisperer” Stefan Zürcher, for example, has worked on nine Bonds, and nearly perished for the cause on The Living Daylights when his snowplough plunged through a frozen lake. And one of today’s key men, unflappable stunt co-ordinator Gary Powell, has kept Bond safe(ish) since Casino Royale . “The planning and logistics of a sequence like this takes months,” he points out. “Then there’s getting permission to film in the village, because they’ve probably never seen anything like this.”

Spectre

At one point there were a thousand crew members in situ as first and second units converged. There’s “a lot of PR” required to keep the locals, mostly no-nonsense farmers, happy during the shoot, a production manager explains. Soon they’ll be able to boast of joining Bregenz ( Quantum Of Solace ) and Weissensee ( The Living Daylights ) in offering an Austrian home for Bond, but for now they’re probably just keen to know why two modified Land Rover Defenders and a Range Rover have been careering down their slopes at 60mph. “There’s always danger with everything we do,” says Powell, pre-empting Empire ’s next question. “We’re on icy roads so anything can happen, but I’ve got three rally champions driving. Good team there.”

Aboard the plane during its earlier trajectory down the slopes was Rob Hunt, stuntman on two previous Bonds and, whisper it quietly, one Bourne. If light aircraft make seriously uncomfortable toboggans, he’s not getting much sympathy from his boss. “There’s not a lot of suspension when you’re coming down the slopes,” laughs Powell, “so his vision’s quite blurry at the moment.” Hunt and his fellow stunties originally had even more derring to do up in these mountains. The final chunk of the already lengthy sequence, originally due to end with a skidoo chase through the village and culminate with Bond and Hinx facing off at a dam, was truncated, presumably because at some point someone would have needed to stop for a pee.

“Everyone’s done their homework so when we get to the shooting day, it shouldn’t be a challenge,” adds Powell, as the countdown to barnageddon commences. If he speaks with the reassurance of a man who’s seen it all, that’s because he has. This isn’t even his first Bond-meets-light-aircraft gig. He worked on Pierce Brosnan’s improbable skydive into the cockpit of GoldenEye ’s Pilatus Porter. “It’s a little different having a plane chasing three cars through the woods,” he says. The stunt co-ordinator exudes professional pride in his 15-strong team, and appreciates his director’s openness to new ideas. “Sam likes to be proved wrong,” he grins, “which is good because I’m more than happy to do that for him — in the nicest possible way.” The easy option here, a classic Bond ski chase, was jettisoned in favour of “trying to do something different”.

It’s definitely different. Bond has been in a barn or two before (famously with Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Tracy di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ) but there’s no hay to roll in this time, just an imminent detonation and a trip into the blue yonder. Second unit director Alexander Witt, on whose shoulders all this ultimately rests, has nine cameras ready to capture it all. Mendes will scrutinise the results on remote playback later. “So far he’s been happy, no complaints,” says Witt. “He doesn’t send smileys back, just, ‘Move on.’ It’s just for him to get a sense of the shots we’re doing.”

Witt is calm as things prepare to go all Michael Bay on us. And then it happens. There’s a heart-jolting bang and through a blizzard of logs and splintering timber shoots the cabin of that entirely Q-unapproved Bond plane. It thumps to Earth and grinds to a halt 100 yards further down the slope. The locals whoop their approval. Empire , meanwhile, glances around, half-expecting to spot Powell and Witt engaged in a celebratory fist-bump, handshake or high five. But they’re already onto the next set-up. They’re losing the light.

PART THREE: Pinewood

Spectre – Empire November 2015

Words: Chris Hewitt

Sam Mendes almost didn’t edit this issue [of Empire ]. Because Sam Mendes almost didn’t direct Spectre .

Back in March 2013, there were over a billion reasons why Eon’s Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli wanted Mendes back in the director’s chair for the 24th Bond film. That’s how much Skyfall , Mendes’ previous crack at the world’s least-secret secret agent, had raked in around the world, a record for the 50 year-old series. But money isn’t everything; there was also critical acclaim, not for the first time in 007’s history, but certainly on an unprecedented scale. There were awards. There was love in the air. It seemed like a no-brainer for Mendes to become the first director since John Glen to direct two consecutive 007s.

But then Mendes walked away. In a statement he talked of “a very difficult decision” but cited “theatre and other commitments” that needed his “complete focus over the next year and beyond”.

As we know, Mendes recanted four short months later. And just two years after that, he’s sitting in an armchair in his Pinewood office, mug of coffee close by, trying to make sense of it all.

“It was partly that Michael and Barbara and MGM wanted to go really quickly,” he says. “In fact, at one point there was talk of releasing it this summer. It would have been released a month ago ( in June ). I said, ‘That’s impossible.’ There was also talk about doing two back-to-back. I felt, as Daniel did, that was verging on the insane. One is almost more than you can cope with, let alone two!”

Spectre

The “theatre and other commitments” included directing Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (“I didn’t go off to do a tiny show — it was almost as much work as Skyfall ”) and King Lear , along with “moving back to England and all sorts of stuff that’s really boring.” Also, even though Mendes is a man who’s pretty much done it all (including winning an Oscar for his first film), directing a billion-dollar blockbuster with a cultural footprint as large as Skyfall ’s is a different challenge entirely. “It took me a while to get my head around it,” he admits. “But the success of Skyfall didn’t feel like a straitjacket. It felt like an opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Wilson, Broccoli and writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were still beavering away on the story of Bond 24, aided and abetted by Daniel Craig, a man who has more story input than any Bond in history. “It’s gone exactly where I wanted it to go,” says Craig. “There are so many rich seams to mine.”

Together, the Bond Brain Trust was determined to come up with a story so utterly grab-you-by-the-lapels-of-your-safari-suit compelling that Mendes would have no choice but to come back. And it worked. “Story was always the way in,” says Mendes. “And once we located that, I felt a sense of ownership. Once you’ve got that, you’re in, whether you like it or not.”

Which leads us to today, and Empire ’s latest trip down the Piccadilly Line to Uxbridge (other London Underground lines are available) for our final visit to the set of Spectre . We’ve been to some of the most exotic locations Planet Earth has to offer on this movie — Mexico, Austria, Chris Corbould’s house — but there’s something about Pinewood that still rushes the blood. After all, it’s where you’ll find the Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage, the logo rising resplendent above all the buildings that surround it. This is the only place in the world you can drive down a street called Goldfinger Avenue. And, as you do so, you might just have to swerve to avoid Roger Moore, who still keeps an office here. Pinewood is Bond.

There was this big spectre hanging over the movie and the franchise, which is Blofeld, and what happened to the supervillain. That’s all I’m going to say – Sam Mendes

Today, the 007 Stage is being prepped for a major helicopter sequence. Instead, we’re off to a smaller stage, retracing Bond’s steps through his old stomping ground: the MI6 building. Last seen being blown up by the dastardly Silva in Skyfall , the former HQ of the British Secret Service will play a crucial role in Spectre . And the vertigo-inducing, four-storey set that a sweaty-palmed Empire shakily clambers up is a fabulously authentic recreation of a gutted, once-glorious building. It’s here that, later, a certain secret agent will be drawn, into the dilapidated shell of a building he once knew intimately, now ravaged by fire and pressure and time. He’ll walk through offices where computers have been fused together by heat, and find himself in the lobby of the building. He’ll be inexorably drawn towards the wall, on which stands a stone memorial bearing the names of all the MI6 agents who have fallen in the line of duty (actually, they’re all key Spectre crew members). And it’s here where those flinty blue eyes may even betray a flicker of emotion as they light upon the last name — crudely spray-painted in large red letters. His name. James Bond.

Even though all the pre-Craig Bond movies had a loose chronology (Moore’s 007 visits the grave of Lazenby’s wife, Tracy, in For Your Eyes Only ), the series just didn’t do sequels. Instead, the character breezed through a series of standalone adventures in which the fate of the world was perpetually at stake, while our hero often acted like he couldn’t give two figs.

Spectre

That all changed with Casino Royale and the casting of Craig. His Bond doesn’t shrug, he absorbs. “Watching those movies, the character is leading us through the story but nothing really touches him,” says Craig. “I couldn’t act like that. I wouldn’t know how to. From the beginning, it’s been, ‘It’s okay to get a bit emotional.’ And hopefully by doing so, you raise the temperature a bit.”

The Craig Bonds had already introduced the concept of a direct sequel into the Bond franchise. Quantum Of Solace picks up mere minutes after Casino Royale ended. So it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, considering Skyfall ’s enormous cultural impact, that Spectre is a direct follow-up. But Mendes is keen to point out that it’s not simply Skyfall 2 .

“It’s quite a different film,” adds Mendes. “It’s quite daring to take something that you know has worked and turn it around. For me, the idea of trying to do another Bond movie and do something exactly the same would seem to be foolish. It was about being able to do things with this movie that I hadn’t been able to do on the last one.”

One of those things is expansion, and the embracing of a wider story for 007. The MI6 set is so large that it plays host to holding cells, in which a shadowy someone has placed photos of people who would be living and breathing still had it not been their misfortune to know one man in particular: Bond. We won’t give away the identities, but there are blasts from Bond’s past that stretch back to Casino Royale . “A weird game is being played,” teases Mendes. “That’s definitely front and centre in terms of an attempt to give a shape to all the Daniel Craig Bond movies. We wanted this to be an accumulation, a gathering of everything that he’s done as Bond.”

Spectre

So, then, to the big question: who’s the Machiavellian genius (besides our esteemed editor, of course) behind that weird game? The name’s Oberhauser. Franz Oberhauser.

Long story short: for decades, Eon didn’t have the rights to evil organisation SPECTRE or its leader, the bald, scarred, cat-stroking blowhard, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. now they do. So, when the movie and its cast were unveiled to the world’s media last December, just before the start of filming, everyone presumed that a film called Spectre had to include Blofeld. And the presumption was that Christoph Waltz just had to play him. Had to be .

However, it seems that may have been a case of putting 002 and 002 together to make 007. Much has changed about this very modern iteration of the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. Blofeld, it seems, is yesterday’s news.

Oberhauser, according to Mendes, is “a figure that has a root in Bond’s past, and a root in Fleming.” That root can be traced back to Octopussy , the original Fleming short story, in which a man called Hannes Oberhauser is referenced by Bond almost as a father figure. After all, once his parents died, Bond had to go somewhere. Why not into the care of Hannes Oberhauser? And does that mean Franz Oberhauser is the son of Hannes, and effectively Bond’s ‘step-brother’? If Oberhauser really is the author of Bond’s pain, Chapter One may have started early, possibly with well-timed wedgies.

“In Skyfall , we got to Bond age 12 when his parents died, but what happened after that?” asks Mendes. “What happened during his adolescence? It’s a kind of retrospective creation story, in a way. When you looked at the surface of Skyfall , it felt like an ending. But it was a new beginning on so many levels. It felt like there were all these threads to pull, so let’s pull them.”

Let’s assume, then, that Waltz is not Blofeld. So much so, in fact, that he perhaps should have been called Not Blofeld. But rumours are pests, and there are still cynics convinced Eon is hiding its glorious bastard in plain sight; that, despite all the denials, Waltz is playing Blofeld, after all. This is known as Pulling A John Harrison, after the wildly complex efforts to mask the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch’s Star Trek Into Darkness villain was actually Khan, a decision that contributed to some of the fan fury heaped upon that movie.

“Why was there a backlash?” asks Mendes, when Empire brings this up. We venture that fans may have felt tricked, maybe even lied to. “But there’s a narrative as well,” he counters. “The naming of a character is part of a story. The audience cannot and should not be given — and I’m not confirming or denying anything — information that the characters do not have. And preserving tension in the narrative of a story that is a riff or an acknowledgement of the iconography of Bond over the years has been crucial. Otherwise you are taking an audience out of the narrative before it’s even begun.”

Spectre

Just talking about Blofeld is tricksy. Mendes could be forgiven for banning the mere mention of the B-word on set.

“The B-word!” he snorts. “No, we talk about it all the time. It’s the great figure from the Bond vault, as it were. There was this big spectre hanging over the movie and the franchise, which is Blofeld, and what happened to the supervillain.” He chuckles. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

So Oberhauser is a supervillain, smart and sinister enough to lure Bond to the MI6 building where they’ll have a very intense confrontation. For some filmmakers, the presence of a supervillain, and the fun to be had from pure, unrestrained id, can sometimes lead to the hero being overshadowed or ignored. Mendes insists that with Spectre , the focus will remain on the most important B-word of them all.

“In Skyfall , Bond is playing catch-up the whole time,” says Mendes. “Here, it’s a totally different story. Here, he has to drive the movie.” And Bond’s investigation will throw up some interesting revelations... “There’s some big stuff the movie is moving towards,” teases Mendes. “There are depth charges you hopefully don’t see coming.”

While the director was keen to spare Bond a “psychological” ordeal this time around, there’s no question that, as 007 flits between London, Mexico, Morocco, Austria and Rome (sadly, Chris Corbould’s house will not feature in the movie), his ordeal will be physical. Craig’s Bond has already sustained bullets to the body and blows to the balls, but Spectre will really dole out the damage, including a train fight with Dave — sorry, David — Bautista’s hulking henchman, Mr. Hinx, that is deliberately redolent of the Connery/Robert Shaw dust-up in From Russia With Love . “It’s a different kind of style of fight, a different kind of antagonist,” says Mendes. “There are challenges and lots of situations in the movie where you think, ‘How on earth is he going to get out of this?’” The author of Bond’s pain laughs. “It’s a pretty dark place.” James Bond will return...?

Originally published in the November 2015 issue of Empire.

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Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, a deeper look into sam mendes' "spectre".

spectre pre title sequence

I can’t recall another James Bond film that caused as uneven a reaction as “ Spectre." Watching it shortly before the reviews came out, I never imagined that any backlash was about to follow. The complaints differed somewhat from those I’ve heard on past 007 entries, but personally I believe that director Sam Mendes got just about everything right. The movie was neither too serious (“ Quantum of Solace ”) nor too humorous (“ Moonraker ”), it had plenty of large action scenes but none of them went overboard (“ Die Another Day ”) and more importantly, the character’s stories never got lost among the special effects as tends to occur (“ You Only Live Twice ”). “ Spectre ” was perfectly cast, the series’ regulars jelled, the jokes worked, the villains were menacing, the girls were as beautiful and three-dimensional as they’ve ever been and the locations were outstanding (how is it that Bond never visited Rome before?). 

The movie deals with James Bond’s unveiling of the legendary crime organization and their eventual clash when the group tries to infiltrate British Intelligence.  SPECTRE the organization first appeared in the early Sean Connery-era Bond films and it held the distinction of counting with Ernst Stavro Blofeld among its ranks, the only main villain in the series who survived at the end of each of his entries, even after making Bond a widower. Oddly enough, the character was always played by a different actor, sometimes as a cripple in a wheelchair (“ For Your Eyes Only ”) others as a champion skier (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”); sometimes as a shadowy presence behind a curtain (“Thunderball”) others bald and scarred (“You Only Live Twice”); sometimes he could be cruel and menacing (“From Russia with Love”) others he was campy, dressed in drag and not terribly imposing (“ Diamonds Are Forever ”). One of Bond’s most renowned enemies was never given a defined personality beyond being overall “bad” and yet the filmmakers somehow expected audiences to accept any incarnation of the character. 

The  SPECTRE period is best remembered for these gargantuan climatic battles that involved dozens of extras dressed in matching, brightly colored uniforms, launching grenades at each other while catapulting into the air via hidden trampolines. For a while the series settled into this lazy routine and the movies involved lacked much suspense. The best thing about this latest incarnation of SPECTRE is that it deals with them much like in the magnificent “From Russia with Love," as an utterly sinister and yet subtle organization, pulling the strings from behind the curtains on some truly evil acts.

“ Spectre” is the second Bond film directed by Sam Mendes and it couldn’t be more different than his previous “ Skyfall ," one of the few 007 entries that managed to keep the audience at unease over the uncertainty of what was going to happen next. It follows the structure of most every other Bond movie, something that’s not necessarily a bad thing when considering this hadn’t been the case during the ten years of Daniel Craig 's tenure. The fact that it includes a direct homage to “From Russia with Love” with another sensational (and brutal) train fight hardly makes it the “Greatest Hits of the Past” that some people have made it out to be. I don’t see how “Spectre” can be considered repetitive unless you believe that dealing with car chases and gadgets, snow action sequences or villains doing business in colorful lairs (if a bit reminiscent of hollowed volcanoes) means indeed that they are making the same movie all over again.

The Bond movies have had their share of outstanding action openings like the Thames Q Boat (“The World is Not Enough”) and the Istanbul Motorcycle-Train (“Skyfall”) chases, but only a handful have been able to provide as jaw-dropping an introduction as the one here with Bond and his nemesis doing battle while hanging from an out of control helicopter above a plaza filled with thousands of Day of the Dead celebrants. This may very well be the most astounding 007 launch since Roger Moore ’s 007 skied off a mountain while wearing the infamous banana suit in “The Spy Who Loved Me” and it is just about the only pre-title sequence in the series that achieves an additional instance of comparable awe with its continuous " Touch of Evil "-type opening shot. This was obviously accomplished with the help of modern technology to hide the seams much like last year’s Oscar winner “ Birdman ," but unlike such it isn’t there just for show as it serves to jump start the action from the very first shot, something at which the Bond films have always been second to none anyway.

A 007 film that doesn’t stretch believability has yet to be made but I can’t recall another one that has been torn apart as minutely as “ Spectre." Since the movie opened last November I’ve heard repeated complaints about how unlikely and unnecessary it was for Bond and Madeleine Swann ( Léa Seydoux ) to get those fabulous clothes for their Morocco train journey. This dilemma brings to mind the scenes where Roger Moore wears a tuxedo in the middle of the Egyptian dessert (“The Spy Who Loved Me”) or in the Rio de Janeiro carnival (“Moonraker”). And more than it being a matter of practicality or realism, I’m convinced they were done that way on purpose in order to get a laugh at their own absurdity, something essential to every Bond movie. I’ve also heard more than a few skeptical comments on how Bond and Madeleine could ever find a perfectly positioned net at the bottom of the MI6 building to cushion their fall. But if you’ve ever been to any site that’s under construction or renovation you’ll surely have noticed similar arrangements to prevent workers from getting hit by debris (my first impression upon once seeing such on the Empire State Building facade years ago was that it was there to save potential suicide jumpers!). Some were also puzzled by the size of the explosion that destroys the villain’s hideaway, the result of Bond shooting a simple valve, but I assume that any facility housing an army of hundreds in the middle of the dessert would have to be self sufficient and as such require a great deal of fuel to run, besides, a crime organization that invested its human trafficking profits into going Green may not have made much sense. Perhaps next time around Blofeld will consider hiding what was basically his lair’s self destruct lever behind a fake wall and under key, as he once did in his old Japanese Volcano.

spectre pre title sequence

Of greater concern to me was Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography and his tendency to suck the reds and blues from the screen, applying instead a never ending supply of yellowish-browns. Hoytema’s golden tones in the L’Americain and train sequences were sensational, but overall the film looks much too flat. Case in point is the otherwise spectacular plane sequence in the Austrian Alps where the colors were toned down to a point where it’s hard to differentiate between the sky and the mountain peaks. Additionally, the nighttime London and the interior of the abandoned MI6 building were lit so dimly, they could barely be appreciated. The end result might be close to what they would look under such conditions, but just remember how spectacular Roger Deakins was able to make the similarly natured subway tunnels from “Skyfall” in what’s surely the best looking Bond movie ever. I also think that Daniel Kleinman’s nightmarish opening titles represent one of the his lesser efforts, especially the images of a shirtless Craig surrounded by several female arms meant to invoke the  SPECTRE octopus, much like designer Maurice Binder once did with Roger Moore for “Octopussy” but not with quite as much class. In past title sequences we’ve had images of romance and horror (think of the burning skull from “ Live and Let Die ”) but never in the same frame and when the leading couple is shown wrapped around an octopus’ tentacles, this look more like the titles for “ Alien ” than for a Bond movie.

These facets aside, I don’t think “ Spectre” showed a significant drop from Sam Mendes’ own “Skyfall." Here’s a director who never loses bearing on where his characters are set emotionally at any point of his movies and much to my surprise, he’s turned out to be one of the better action directors in the series’ as well. It wasn’t easy for the latest Bond to follow “Casino Royale” and “Skyfall," two entries that acquired a particular weight from the death of one of their main characters, something that may very well be on the radar early for the next 007 movie since the remaining presence of Madeleine leaves Bond out of action when it comes to new female conquests, the one thing he’s never had to survive in any of his movies.

Perhaps “ Spectre” was too ambitious in trying to tie up the three prior Daniel Craig entries, the kind of decision that is never easy to accept when done retroactively, no matter how much sense it made on most levels. Regardless, this solution helped close the unforgivable loose end that was the character of Mr. White from “Casino Royale” and provided the grounds for a terrific homage to the “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” titles with its hourglass of past memorable characters. The idea that Bond and the main villain knew each other as children may have been a bit too reminiscent of Dr. Evil/Austin Powers, but it did serve to link Blofeld’s story with the “Dead are Alive!” motif from the beginning of the movie. In the grand scheme of things I found this decision harmless but it’s clear that not every audience member out there was bound to feel overjoyed upon listening to the disclosure of the name Ernst Stavro Blofeld, from watching him acquire the same scars as his Donald Pleasence counterpart, from getting his identity revealed by the presence of a white cat (a really nice touch, by the way) or even from having him preside over a sinister meeting where he disposes of one of his own men around the largest table imaginable. Such moments made “Spectre” one of those movies that work better among the die-hard fans, hence the mixed reviews.

At first I couldn’t picture Waltz becoming Blofeld because of how unlikely it seemed for an actor of his stature to commit to doing several entries of such a commercial series. I do hope that his casting here doesn’t mean that there will be a different Ernst Stavro in each of the upcoming movies as they did during the 1960s; Waltz is one of those rare actors who can exude utter evil without breaking a sweat. He wasn't quite as frightening here as Bardem’s Silva was in “Skyfall” but hopefully he will be able to reach his character’s potential with one defined personality, and maybe even while sporting the same face as well. 

Whatever the case, there’s no question that the Bond production values remained first rate in “Spectre," something remarkable for the 24th entry of any movie series. One of the best things about the Bond films is that the newer ones work just about as well as the fifty-year-old ones. The main reason behind this is that the series has never fallen into the hands of a film studio where the bottom-line is king, residing instead with the same group of auto-critical professionals whose main goal in life is to make the best James Bond movie possible. If you doubt this, just wait a while and watch how “ Star Wars ” fares in the hands of Disney.

Gerardo Valero

Gerardo Valero

Gerardo Valero is lives in Mexico City with his wife Monica. Since 2011 he's been writing a daily blog about film clichés and flubs (in Spanish) on Mexico's Cine-Premiere Magazine . His contributions to "Ebert's Little Movie Glossary" were included in the last twelve editions of "Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook."

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When you purchase through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission. read more., advertisement, spectre filming in mexico.

Filming scenes for the SPECTRE pre-title sequence has started this week in Mexico. Locations in Mexico City will include Plaza Tolsá and surrounding streets, which will be used from 21 - 24 March, and Zócalo , the main square in the city, also known as Plaza de la Constitución, from 25 - 31 March. See a map of the closed roads on CNN Mexico .

day of the dead mexico pretitle sequence spectre

SPECTRE clapperboard image showing Day of the Dead scene in Mexico

The filming of SPECTRE in Mexico will feature hundreds of extras recreating the Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival. Mexicans remember departed relatives and friends on the Day of the Dead at the beginning of November with orange flowers, candy skulls and other death-related decorations. The scene might be similar to the Carnaval festival in Rio de Janeiro seen in Moonraker .

On March 18th, a press conference was held at the Four Seasons Hotel Mexico in Mexico City with producer Michael G. Wilson and Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman.

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Bond producer Michael G. Wilson and Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman

In a statement producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said: “During the past 53 years, the James Bond movies have been renowned for filming in the most beautiful and exotic locations in the world. For the opening of SPECTRE , we are filming an exciting sequence in Mexico City featuring the Day of the Dead festival. Mexico City was chosen for the film because of the authentic needs of the story. This is the fourth time Bond has been to Mexico and indeed Licence To Kill was shot almost entirely in Mexico City.”

The first images of James Bond in action in Mexico City can be seen on the Daily Mail website.

james bond daniel craig spectre

Daniel Craig is wearing a Tom Ford suit and tie, black leather shoes and holds an automatic weapon while performing some action scenes on the balcony of a building, while being supported by a safety harness.

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A few weeks ago, Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman was cast to play the role of Estrella .

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Bond Lifestyle is an unofficial information resource and is not linked to the official James Bond production companies. © No Time To Die © 2020 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Danjaq, LLC, Eon Productions, Universal Pictures, United Artists. © SPECTRE © 2015 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Danjaq, LLC, Eon Productions, and Columbia Pictures, Inc. © SkyFall © 2012 Danjaq, LLC, United Artists Corporation, Columbia Pictures, Inc. 007 and related James Bond Indicia © 1962-2023 Danjaq, LLC and MGM. 007 and related James Bond Trademarks are trademarks of Danjaq.

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In defense of Spectre

By david pegram | mar 19, 2018.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 04: Actor Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes attend the 'Times Talks Presents: Spectre, An Evening With Daniel Craig And Sam Mendes' at The New School on November 4, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

With Bond 25 filming nearing its end, much has been written about Spectre’s flaws. But what did that film get right? Turns out, a lot.

As we near the filming of Bond 25, much has been written about  Spectre’s  flaws — including my own such  criticisms . Scott Maslow at  GQ  has gone so far as to suggest what the franchise needs to fix as a result of that film, and who knows what Danny Boyle and John Hodge might have up their collective sleeve. Plus, if you were to peruse the discussion boards at MI6 Headquarters , you’d think that Spectre was not just a bad Bond film, but maybe even the worst ever. Let’s just say that Sam Mendes has not endeared himself to many Bond fans.

That said, however, not all was lost with that film. Four months ago, I criticized parts of the film; but let’s now flip that around. What did Spectre get right? Actually, a lot. While the film was a disappointment, it was far from a disaster.

The pre-title sequence

Has there been a better one?  The Spy Who Loved Me is often discussed as the best, due to Rick Sylvester’s iconic ski-base jump. But for pure excitement and spectacle, Spectre’s  pre-titles sequence might top it. Mendes’ single tracking shot (no matter that there are wipes) so expertly moves us from the global to the personal. Then, Bond’s subsequent helicopter fight with Sciarra ups the ante.

The Bond vs Hinx train fight

The train fight has been staple of the Bond franchise ever since Bond vs Grant in From Russia with Love. It set the standard. But Bond vs Hinx, on the train through Morocco, is every bit as good. What works so well is that we know that Bond is in trouble, here. At one point, as Hinx attempts to crush his skull, Bond groans loudly, in discomfort. Rarely have we seen Bond like this, so vulnerable, but it works.

Thomas Newman’s score

Skyfall was nominated for a Oscar and won a Grammy. It was a tough act to follow, for sure. But Newman still presents some memorable moments, here, too. Consider that he was tasked with creating two separate Bond girl themes (for Lucia and Madeleine) and managed to make each unique and distinct.  The Bond theme / Latin rhythms theme used in the pre-title sequence was another highlight.

Christoph Waltz

Yes, Waltz is on record as saying he was not pleased with what he brought to the table as Blofeld, but maybe he is being too hyper-critical. Sure, he had little screen time, but Waltz still managed to leave an impression. His introduction, during the Spectre meeting in Rome,  set the right tone. When he says, “Cuckoo,” we almost wonder if it is self-referential.

Ben Whishaw

Whishaw was a revelation as Q in Skyfall . In Spectre , he is much more comfortable. He functions as Bond’s foil and deliver’s the film’s best line: “I told you to bring it (Aston Martin DB5) back in one piece, not bring back one piece .”

Bond films are known for their locations, and Spectre continued that trend. From Mexico City to Rome to Austria to Morocco, changes in scenery, climate, and architecture added a sense of spectacle to the film.

“Writing’s on the Wall”

Reactions to Sam Smith’s theme song were mixed. The song’s Oscar win for “Best Song” didn’t change that. But now, nearly three years later, the song resonates, and Smith’s falsetto seems far less problematic. It’s a beautiful song.

Cinematography

Hot van Hoytema had the unenviable task of following Roger Deakins. Nevertheless, van Hoytema’s camerawork was topnotch. From the murky brown hues of Mexico to the bright white snow of Austria, van Hoytema used to color to add atmosphere.

No, Spectre was not on par with Skyfall ,  certainly not in box office returns, but it was not a disaster, not certainly not a film that EON needs to completely run away from.

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James Bond Opening Sequences Ranked from Worst to Best

They're sometimes the best scenes in a 007 movie, but what James Bond pre-titles sequence is best?

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James Bond Opening Sequences Ranked including Moonraker and No Time to Die

The James Bond franchise revolutionized action cinema in the 1960s when it started with 1962’s Dr. No and stands to this day as one of the longest-running film series in history. From almost the very beginning, Bond movies strive to draw in their audiences with high-octane prologues that run before lush and stylishly rendered title sequences. These pre-title action scenes not only set the tone for the movie right out the gate but, in several instances, are the best sequences within their respective films.

This pre-title sequence tradition began with the franchise’s second movie, 1963’s From Russia with Love . Believe it or not, Dr. No does not actually contain a pre-title action scene and instead dives headfirst into its opening titles. These prologues highlight the classic elements of a spy who always served Her Majesty’s Secret Service faithfully. They also showcase how each of the actors playing Bond differ in their approach to the iconic role.

24. Live and Let Die (1973)

The very first James Bond movie starring Roger Moore, 1973’s Live and Let Die , doesn’t even feature in the opening action sequence. The movie instead uses its first scene to set up the larger mystery in the film’s narrative: British operatives in New Orleans, at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, and the fictional Caribbean island nation of San Monique are murdered in various ways. The only major characters introduced in this trio of scenes is the film’s primary antagonist, Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto) and his clairvoyant associate Solitaire (Jane Seymour).

With Bond absent and the familiar trappings of a Bond movie not readily apparent in the film’s opening, Live and Let Die has the most forgettable pre-title sequence in the franchise. The movie’s handling of racial stereotypes and attempt to co-opt blaxploitation cinema really dates this film as well, arguably more overtly than any other installment. Moore started his lengthy tenure as Bond on a more awkward note than most and that’s apparent right from the get-go.

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23. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Moore’s sophomore outing as Bond, in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun , is another one of his weaker entries, though its pre-title sequence is marginally better than Live and Let Die . The opening has a mobster travel to a remote island off the coast of China where he engages in a deadly cat-and-mouse game in the home of legendary assassin Francisco Scaramanga (the great Christopher Lee). Scaramanga’s compound is built like a funhouse, disorienting his prey before the master moves in for the kill.

For two movies in a row, Moore’s Bond doesn’t technically appear in the pre-title sequence, though Moore does silently double for a life-like wax figure of Bond in Scaramanga’s inner sanctum. The big thing that puts The Man with the Golden Gun ’s opening over Let and Let Die is Lee’s charismatic portrayal as Scaramanga; he remains the best thing in the entire film. But the odd decision to distance Bond from the opening scene and lean into camp with Scaramanga’s funhouse starts this movie off on the wrong foot.

22. A View to a Kill (1985)

I promise we’ll stop slagging on Roger Moore’s Bond movies soon enough, but plenty of those films’ pre-title sequences are among the franchise’s worst. Moore’s last outing as 007 was 1985’s A View to a Kill , which pitted 007 against a pair of villains memorably played by Christopher Walken and Grace Jones. Unfortunately, neither of these antagonists appear in the movie’s opening. Instead we see Bond retrieve a microchip from a fallen 00 Agent in Siberia where he is pursued by the Soviet military.

Though a fair amount of Bond’s scenes in the opening to A View to a Kill are played by a stuntman due to the wintry stunts, whenever Moore does appear onscreen, his advancing age is visible. Moore was 58 years-old when A View to a Kill was released, playing opposite love interests half his age. By his own subsequent admission, he’d overstayed his welcome. Between Moore’s age and a laughably campy sequence involving Bond snowboarding to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” A View to a Kill begins on a tepid note that it never recovers from.

21. Die Another Day (2020)

Moore isn’t the only Bond star to end his tenure on a whimper, with Pierce Brosnan closing out his run as 007 on his weakest film in the series, 2002’s Die Another Day . This time Bond infiltrates North Korea to stop the military regime from acquiring experimental weapons that would launch an ambitious attack on South Korea. 007 is subsequently captured and tortured during the film’s actual title cards sequence (a first for the series that has otherwise avoided using those pop music-infused sequences to advance the plot). Prior to that, however, Bond uses a surfboard loaded with his usual gear to slip into North Korea undetected.

The idea that surfing would make Bond look cool and appealing to younger audiences in 2002 is just as hilariously out-of-touch as the movie’s random use of slow-motion and a techno-flavored Madonna song. Ridiculous opening stunt aside, all of the North Korean sequences in the film are shown in a drab gray color scheme, which is some of the most uninviting cinematography in the entire series. Die Another Day is the most glaring example of the franchise trying too hard to stay relevant as it entered the 21st century, and even its opening scene is guilty of this unfortunate trend.

20. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

After a four year-hiatus, Sean Connery returned to the role of Bond for 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever , his final farewell to the official franchise produced by Eon Productions. The movie opens with Bond mercilessly attacking the associates of villainous mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld (now recast as Charles Gray) in retaliation for the murder of his wife Tracy. This culminates in Bond derailing an attempt to create a Blofeld doppelganger. Bond then seems to confront his arch-nemesis in a final and anticlimactic showdown.

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It’s clear from the jump that Connery’s heart isn’t entirely in reprising his most iconic role in Diamonds Are Forever . More amused than driven or vengeful, despite pursuing a presumed vendetta, Connery drifts from scene to scene without much gravitas. The opening battle with Blofeld and SPECTRE similarly lacks the energy of Connery’s other pre-title sequences, signaling what would be a lackluster swan song as Eon Productions’ 007. 

19. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

The first Bond film without Connery was 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service , which marked Australian actor George Lazenby’s sole turn as the legendary British secret agent. The movie opens with Bond on a global manhunt for Blofeld after their fateful first meeting in You Only Live Twice . Along the way, Bond stops Countess Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) from committing suicide while dispatching two of her father’s goons.

Everything right and wrong with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is on display in the opening sequence, especially in regard to Lazenby’s performance as James Bond. Lazenby brings plenty of energetic physicality that Bond hadn’t demonstrated in years, putting his full body weight behind every blow. At the same time, his delivery of the iconic “Bond, James Bond” line falls flat. An underrated entry in the franchise, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service lets viewers know right from the start that they’re in for something different—and perhaps not in the way they wanted in ‘69.

18. Octopussy (1983)

Roger Moore’s penultimate outing as Bond was 1983’s Octopussy , released the same year as Connery’s non-Eon produced Bond film, Never Say Never Again . The opening to Octopussy has Bond infiltrate the unveiling of an experimental aircraft in an unidentified Latin American dictatorship. This escalates to Bond being pursued as he pilots the Acrostar, a small, single-seat aircraft capable of high speeds and nimble maneuvering.

Moore is at his best in Octopussy in the opening scene, blending charm and humor as effortlessly as ever in a relatively low-stakes prologue. The Acrostar is the highlight of the pre-title sequence, although it isn’t on-screen all too much. The opening to Octopussy is serviceable enough, with nothing too memorable but adequately delivered as Moore’s tenure as Bond nears its end.

17. You Only Live Twice (1967)

Connery’s original farewell to the role that made him an international icon was 1967’s You Only Live Twice , which places Bond undercover for a mission in Japan. This mission surfaces after an American spacecraft is captured by a larger spaceship while orbiting the Earth, resulting in the death of an astronaut. To help lull SPECTRE into a false sense of security, Bond fakes his death in the pre-title sequence, apparently gunned down in the midst of a romantic interlude in Hong Kong.

The space sequences are one of the elements of You Only Live Twice that have aged the worst—outside of Bond bizarrely disguising himself to appear as a Japanese man. The faked death is played relatively straight in the prologue, leaving the audience to wonder what is going on until it’s immediately resolved after the opening titles. Also Connery’s growing distaste for playing Bond becomes visibly apparent in this movie for the first time, including Bond’s introduction in the film.

16. Licence to Kill (1989)

Timothy Dalton’s final appearance as Bond was 1989’s Licence to Kill , one of the most intense and violent movies in the franchise to date, and the first ever to be rated PG-13. The opening has Bond prepare to serve as the best man for his CIA friend Felix Leiter’s wedding, only to be roped into apprehending powerful drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), visiting the Florida Keys. Suspended from a helicopter, Bond ties up Sanchez in his private aircraft before skydiving with Felix into his wedding.

The pre-title sequence is the goofiest part of Licence to Kill , a movie which includes ninjas in Latin America and a man’s head inflating and exploding like a gory balloon. Still, Davi conveys plenty of menace in his introduction as Sanchez, even as the villain is unceremoniously lassoed midair by another plane. A much darker movie follows the opening titles than the prologue hints at. As Licence to Kill begins, an era for the franchise comes to an end.

15. The World Is Not Enough (1999)

The second-longest pre-titles sequence for the series belongs to 1999’s The World Is Not Enough , which marked Pierce Brosnan’s third appearance as Bond. The film opens with 007 recovering intended ransom money for a personal friend of M’s from Bilbao, Spain before learning it was an elaborate scheme to kill the friend in question with an implanted bomb. As MI6 recovers from the blast within its own corridors, Bond pursues the assassin across London’s Thames River before injuring himself atop the Millennium Dome.

The World Is Not Enough has a solidly crafted prologue, setting the stakes out the gate, but it never quite feels like it justifies its prolonged length. Bond’s boat chase on Thames doesn’t really have the high-octane punch that the filmmakers were likely hoping for. Brosnan is in fine form, but The World Is Not Enough doesn’t have strong material for him as the formula starts to wear thin.

14. The Living Daylights (1987)

Timothy Dalton’s debut as Bond came in 1987’s The Living Daylights , with the movie acting as a decided counterpoint to the goofier films in the series starring Roger Moore, which occasionally bordered on self-parody. A routine training mission of 00 agents in Gibraltar is murderously disrupted by an assassin targeting trainees with an apparent message from the Soviet Union. Bond intercepts the assassin in an explosive chase around the island, managing to parachute safely as the killer perishes in his stolen truck full of volatile ordinance.

In contrast to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Live and Let Die , which awkwardly handle their respective introductions of new on-screen Bonds, The Living Daylights pulls off the unveiling of Dalton well. Like his depiction of Bond, the reveal is understated and organic before wasting no time in thrusting Dalton’s 007 into action. In contrast to Moore’s movies, the action is more grounded, perhaps too much. It avoids coming off as overly flashy but lacks the sense of spectacle that came with the Moore era.

13. From Russia with Love (1963)

The sophomore Bond movie, 1963’s From Russia with Love , is the first to include a pre-title sequence as the franchise formula continued to take shape. In this prologue, Bond is evidently stalked through a garden with an extensive hedge maze by a deadly assassin who has a garrote wire hidden in his wristwatch. As the assassin, Red Grant (Robert Shaw) strangles Connery’s Bond seemingly to death! But oho, the secret agent is revealed to be a SPECTRE agent in disguise as part of an elaborate and lethal training exercise for Grant!

For fans who are more used to later films in the series and not as familiar with ‘60s cinema, From Russia with Love still has the growing pains of a franchise finding itself. Though tensely constructed, the premise of the 007 appearing in the scene being a masked double understandably takes away the charm and personality of the series. Couple this with an awkwardly sped-up effect as Grant kills his prey, and you’re left with an odd opening.

12. Thunderball (1965)

The James Bond franchise was at the height of its cultural ubiquity with the release of 1965’s Thunderball , the highest-earning Bond film for decades. In the opening, Bond tracks down a SPECTRE operative who murdered one of his colleagues, finding him hiding out in his chateau after faking his death and posing as his own widow. Upon finishing off the SPECTRE agent for good, Bond escapes from the chateau with aid of a jetpack and his gadget-laden Aston Martin!

By his fourth outing as Bond, Connery has hit the perfect balance in his portrayal of the character, casually cool and having not yet grown tired of the role. Connery practically glides through every scene in Thunderball , elevating what is otherwise weaker material than he deserved. The opening is one such scene, haphazardly constructed, with its jetpack shoehorned in, but Connery’s magnetic performance helps it stick the landing.

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11. Quantum of Solace (2008)

Daniel Craig ’s sophomore outing as James Bond, 2008’s Quantum of Solace , picks up moments after his debut in Casino Royale ends. With the enigmatic terrorist mastermind Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) his captive, Bond races off through the winding mountain roads in Italy, pursued closely by White’s deadly associates. Without the usual gadgets in his Aston Martin, Bond relies on his expert driving skills and sharp wits as he outpaces and outmaneuvers his enemies before reaching safety in the town of Siena.

Quantum of Solace is the shortest, most tightly paced Bond movie to date, running at a brisk 107 minutes compared to the usual approximate two-hour runtime for the franchise. The opening car chase is a prime example of the movie running leaner and meaner than its counterparts, keeping its focus tight and its action kinetic. Quantum of Solace ultimately isn’t without its faults, but its pre-title sequence certainly isn’t one of them.

10. For Your Eyes Only (1981)

After blasting off in outer space in Moonraker , 1981’s For Your Eyes Only was very much a means to bring Bond and the wider franchise back down-to-earth, with more grounded stakes and spectacle. Before sending 007 off on his latest mission, the opening resolves one of the series’ biggest loose ends in a final confrontation between Bond and his arch-nemesis Blofeld. While Blofeld is never explicitly identified onscreen because of legal issues involving the character, the familiar hallmarks of the character are present before Bond sends the villain plummeting to his doom down a factory smokestack. A message to Eon’s legal foes, perhaps?

The callbacks to the franchise’s history, especially On Her Majesty’s Secret Service , are welcome nods, letting audiences know this is going to be a more serious adventure than most of Moore’s Bond appearances. Though the action doesn’t meet the high bar set by the prologues to Moore’s two preceding Bond movies, the extended helicopter stunt keeps viewers riveted and doesn’t overstay its welcome. For all its attempts at going more grounded and stripped-down with its scope, For Your Eyes Only still has plenty of high-octane thrills, and its aerial opening is a solid showcase for Moore’s grittiest Bond turn.

9. No Time to Die (2021)

Craig ended his celebrated tenure as James Bond with the ambitious 2021 film, No Time to Die , a movie that celebrated Craig’s beloved run as the super-spy before blowing him up in spectacular fashion. The movie kicks off with the franchise’s longest pre-titles sequence yet, with a flashback to Madeleine Swann’s traumatic connection to the film’s primary antagonist, Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), before moving to the present. As Bond tries to settle down with Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) in a romantic getaway in Italy, he is ambushed by SPECTRE operatives while visiting the grave of his old flame Vesper Lynd.

Much of No Time to Die ’s marketing spotlighted the action throughout the opening’s dusty Italian streets, which features some of the most cleanly shot action set pieces during Craig’s entire Bond run. From swinging down ancient bridges to unleashing the beloved Aston Martin DB5’s twin machine guns against a small army, all the physicality and style that Craig’s Bond is known for is on full display. Like the rest of the movie itself, No Time to Die ’s opening goes on a bit too long, but it beautifully sets the stage for Craig’s swan song in the role.

8. Moonraker (1979)

Moonraker is the most unabashedly over-the-top and wacky thing the Bond franchise ever did. It took Moore’s Bond to outer space in the wake of Star Wars ’ immense success. Though audiences have been split if this was all a step too far for the series, one thing most viewers can agree on is that it has one of Moore’s best pre-title sequences. Trapped on a plummeting private jet, Bond skydives without a parachute to catch up to his would-be killers before being intercepted by the metal-toothed Jaws.

Set almost entirely in the midst of death-defying aerial stunts, the opening to Moonraker is the movie at its most grounded despite, ironically, much of it taking place midair. The return of Jaws gently sets up his more cartoonish appearance throughout the film, in contrast to him being a genuine killer in The Spy Who Loved Me . Though most viewers remember Moonraker for its goofy laser battle climax, the opening is the true highlight to the movie.

7. Casino Royale (2006)

After years of bloated, formulaic entries, 2006’s Casino Royale marks the debut of Daniel Craig as James Bond with a touch of something decidedly different. The pre-title sequence is shown entirely in black and white, a first for the franchise, as Bond eliminates two targets to gain 00 status. One such assassination is particularly brutal, as Bond battles with his foe in a bathroom, attempting to drown him in a sink before shooting him to death.

From its grainy, faux-film quality to its monochrome cinematography, Casino Royale ’s opening harkens back to the franchise’s Cold War espionage roots. In a matter of minutes, Craig proves himself to be the most hands-on and lethal Bond since at least the Dalton era, with the grueling bathroom brawl and clean kill of his second target. More strikingly, Casino Royale incorporated the iconic gunbarrel shot into its opening, wisely opting to withhold it until the end of this scene. It successfully signaled the franchise was getting a fresh start.

6. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Two years earlier, GoldenEye brought the Bond franchise into the modern era by directly facing the ghosts of the Cold War. The 1997 follow-up, Tomorrow Never Dies , provides what is still more salient commentary on the rise of multimedia empires who control the news. Although there is still one more Cold War nod. In the pre-title sequence, Bond disrupts terrorists commencing with an illegal arms sale of Soviet weapons. In the process he confiscates a nuclear warhead before a British missile strike on the site can trigger a disaster.

As a whole, Tomorrow Never Dies loses sight of its own message as it takes its adventure through the usual globetrotting antics, but its opening maintains a tight focus. It kicks off a pitch-perfect introduction of Brosnan’s 007 in action that is slicker than his GoldenEye reveal. The Brosnan Bond is as charming and engaged as he ever would be, and Tomorrow Never Dies ’ prologue is arguably the best part of this movie.

5. Spectre (2015)

After helming the universally acclaimed Skyfall , director Sam Mendes returned for 2015’s Spectre , which reintegrated the eponymous terrorist syndicate and its leader Blofeld into Craig’s modern continuity. This prologue sees Bond go on an unsanctioned mission in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead, stalking a target identified by Judi Dench’s late M as a person of interest. What starts as a low-key tail leads to the destruction of an entire city block and a helicopter fight over a crowded plaza.

The first half of the opening is presented like a single-take sequence, with its cuts slyly hidden by production tricks as Bond moves through festive streets. Beautifully shot and staged, this pre-title sequence is one of the most ambitious things the series and Mendes has ever attempted, and they pull it off seamlessly. However, the opening does lose momentum considerably once it moves into the helicopter fight while recycling music from Skyfall . It keeps this prologue from standing as the franchise’s best.  

4. GoldenEye (1995)

After a six-year hiatus, the Bond franchise returned with GoldenEye , debuting new Bond lead Pierce Brosnan and standing as the first movie in the franchise released after the Cold War. Set nine years before the main story, the pre-titles sequence has Bond team-up with his friend 006 (Sean Bean) to destroy a Soviet chemical weapons facility at the base of a dam. Bond does this by bungee-jumping down the face of the massive structure before escaping in a small plane he must commandeer mid-crash.

The opening to GoldenEye has long since been immortalized as the first three levels of the enormously popular 1997 Nintendo 64 video game adaptation. Having said that, the opening is memorably staged, even without the video game association, as Brosnan deftly balances charm with director Martin Campbell’s intense action. Brosnan is also well matched by co-star Bean, a man who could’ve very well been Bond himself. Their on-screen rapport forms the emotional backbone of GoldenEye right from the start.

3. Skyfall (2012)

2012’s Skyfall commemorates the 50th anniversary of the film series, reviving it after a four-year hiatus following Quantum of Solace . The movie begins with Craig’s Bond dispatched to Istanbul when a mission has gone wrong, resulting in a list of all undercover British intelligence operatives stationed abroad stolen by an assassin. Joined by Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Bond pursues the killer through Istanbul before accidentally being shot of a train and falling to his apparent death.

Opening with Bond suddenly stepping into frame with familiar horn fanfare, Skyfall wastes no time in putting Bond back in action, with the cinematography a noticeable cut above any movie in the series that came before it. Powered by Thomas Newman’s pulsating score, Skyfall ’s pre-title sequence is perfectly paced and retains all the classic flourishes that have endeared the franchise to millions worldwide for half a century. If Casino Royale opened the door for prestige-level Bond movies, Skyfall kicks that door open and Craig never was better as the iconic secret agent. 

2. Goldfinger (1964)

It wasn’t until the third Bond film, 1964’s Goldfinger , that the familiar franchise formula fully took shape, especially with its pre-title sequence. Connery’s classic Bond is dispatched to an unidentified Latin American country where he blows up a cache of illegal drugs before rendezvousing with a femme fatale at a local dive bar. However, this dangerous liaison is interrupted by a thug whom Bond narrowly survives by electrocuting him in a bathtub.

Everything you need to know about James Bond is present in Goldfinger ’s opening sequence, from Bond’s lethal efficiency to his incredible sense of style, going as far as to conceal a tuxedo under his wetsuit. Goldfinger sets the standard for pre-title sequences moving forward and it’s easy to see why in this slickly delivered and tightly paced punch-up. Some dated filming techniques, including laughably sped-up shots, hold the opening back from taking the very top spot, but it’s still a wholly enjoyable launch pad to the most iconic Bond movie .

1. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

While still commercially successful, 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun posted the lowest box office totals for the franchise at that time, with behind-the-scenes issues delaying a follow-up for three years. Its sequel, 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me , opens with a nuclear submarine being hijacked before introducing Bond’s Soviet counterpart Maj. Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach). The focus shifts to Moore’s Bond, caught in the middle of an amorous encounter before being ambushed by Soviet operatives led by Amasova’ lover. During an exciting ski chase, Bond finds just enough time to kill Anya’s beau before parachuting off a mountain with the Union Jack emblazoned across his chute.

The Bond film series really needed a shot in the arm coming off The Man with the Golden Gun , and The Spy Who Loved Me delivered it right in these opening minutes with plenty of style to spare. Moore is never better as Bond as he is in the 1977 movie, with his age not yet visibly catching up with him while perfectly balancing his usual sense of humor with action. And while it makes no sense at all for a covert operative to do so, there is something unabashedly triumphant about Bond unveiling a Union Jack parachute in the midst of a death-defying jump that remains unrivaled over 45 years later.

Sam Stone

30 Days of SPECTRE #002: The Pre-Title Sequence

  • James Bond Radio
  • November 2, 2015
  • 18 Comments

spectre pre title sequence

This time we’re taking a look at the pre-title sequence of SPECTRE. We discuss the opening gun barrel (Yay!), we take a look at that glorious opening shot and cover every inch of film up until Sam Smith starts singing.

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18 Responses

Be advised there are some SPOILERS on this comment. Here are some of some the best moments from working as an extra on the SPECTRE pre-title scene: -In order to improve my chances of appearing on the film I decided to get on Sciarra’s way as he runs towards the helicopter. That meant getting thrown aside by the actor who plays him, at least 10-15 times. This was all great except when another extra holding a flag stood behind me, Sciarra pushed the guy and the pole ended hitting me hard in the head, twice!! -Daniel walked in front of me and my friends several times. He was always in a happy mood and invariably curteous. After a couple of days filming he waved in my direction when he arrived at the parade set. I have no idea if the greeting was for me but I sure waved back. -The one person I got the chance to talk extensively between takes was Gary Powell who couldn’t be nicer. By then I had realized Bond and Sciarra where going to climb on the helicopter and there was going to be some kind of fight, but I just couldn’t picture anything happening that we haven’t seen in other action films so I told Gary (half kidding!) something the likes of “you can’t dissapoint us!” which he took to heart and told me he always aims to make the audience happy. Anyway, the next day they shot the scene with the characters getting on the helicopter and I noticed how several crew memmbers went out of their way to get their pictures taken with the pilot, it was at that point that I realized that this guy was somebody special and he had something big up his sleeve. -My most embarassing moment on the set, asking cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema if he was second unit director Alexander Witt. He laughed sarcastically and continued walking. (eventually I learned that Witt didn’t come to Mexico at all). -On the last day of filming, they got most of the extras out of the main plaza and only left 60-70 of us out there. The helicopter took off and started doing horizontal 360s about 40-50 feet above our heads with Bond and Sciarra fighting inside and outside of the vessel. What I found funny was that the assistant director asked us to look scared which, as you might imagine, wasn’t really necessary. By then I had full confidence on the pilot since, it was very evident, he was nothing short of a genius, what concerned me a little was picturing one of the stund doubles falling on top of us (though they were obviously tied up to the helicopter). At the end of the first take most of my collages burst out in applause and the assistant director admonished us all by saying “that’s the last thing your are suppossed to be doing!”. -We were suppossed to come back the following day but apparently they finished early and told us that was the end. A friend and I walked towards the helicopter and stuck our heads inside, we said goodbye to Gary Powell and ran into Chuck Aaron (the helicopter pilot), I kidded the latter by thanking him for not getting us killed!. Then I suggested to my friend that we walk towards the tent from where Sam Mendes directed the film, to check what was going on. It turns out several people tried to get his autograph but the mexican crew wasnt’ happy about that and tried to push everybody away (literally). They succeed it but not before I managed to get Sam to sign my ID badge! (photo attached). More on a later entry!

Great write up Gerardo.

Gerardo, some fascinating insights into your time on the film. Thanks for sharing with us. We’ll be sure to share it on one of our future podcasts!

Glad to hear that you had such an unforgettable time! 🙂

And a couple of notes you might find interesting. 1) Just down the street from Estrella’s hotel (about 50 meters away) you can find the building that they used in LTK for Sanchez’ Banco de Isthmus (photo attached), 2) Also, a couple of blocks from site where the building collapses you can find the Teatro de la Ciudad, used as the exterior for Sanchez’ office (photo attached as well). 3) As I mentioned yesterday, the elevator from the same hotel was used in LTK in the scene where Pam Bouvier pulls the gun from under her dress, 4) While filming SPECTRE inside the hotel, I noticed that the facade of Estrella’s room was actually a fake. They built a temporary wall and door right over a service elevator which I guess was convenient because it was the closest to the scenic elevator.

Glad you seemed to enjoy most aspects of the ‘Spectre experience. The pre-title sequence of Spectre wouldn’t get into my top 5 but I did enjoy it (actually it would be number 8 for me, and after nearly two years of JBR I’m less self-conscious about making geeky comments like that!). I too laughed out loud at ‘the sofa moment’ and that was very much a sign of the lighter tone to come. Ironic that Daniel seems to have been at his grouchiest in the pre-movie publicity this time whilst being at his most ‘frothy’ on screen in this one. Spectre did seem to have been a very long shoot (8/9 months?) so I can well understand him being pretty tired of it all by the time of the premiere. I think it will be just one more for Daniel.

Hi Stephen,

Number 8 for the pretitles is a pretty solid standing so glad to hear you enjoyed it too. We both loved the humour in SPECTRE… it was done with just the right touch of subtlety and definitely worked with Craig’s style of delivery this time around.

Definitely at least one more for Daniel, although I could possibly see a SPECTRE trilogy of sorts… I guess only time will tell.

Thanks, JBR

Hey guys, you’ve got us pumped up to see this movie in the States- just a few more days. I’m living on the edge by listening to your analysis of the pre-title, but I think it’s fine. I might have to listen to Day 3, then it’s silence until Friday night. Thanks for all of your hard work. L

Hi Langford,

It really is a banger of a movie… I’m pretty sure you’ll love it!

Not too long to go now! 🙂

I interpret the continuous four-minute opening shot as a smackdown of the ADD editing in “Quantum,” which probably had more cuts in its first four minutes than “Dr. No” did in its first half-hour.

The 4 minute (or whatever) shot was actually filmed during 3 separate days. On Friday March 20th. they shot the very opening with Bond walking through the parade with Estrella while noticing Sciarra, the next day (Saturday) they filmed Bond coming out of the window and walking on the roofs. Sunday was an off day. On Monday they shot Bond and the girl walking inside the hotel, getting into the lif and walking towards her room (the hotel bit was the only part of this sequence that I was able to attend). Some interesting facts, as I’ve mentioned before, the hotel exterior & interior are two different buildings located about 6 blocks apart so there is indeed some CGI trickery with the shot of the poster to join both sections. The exterior of Estrella’s room was aactually a fak door & wall mounted on top of a regular, service elevator (chosen as such because of its proximity to the scenic lift). My guess is that the interior of the room was shot at Pinewood Studios which means there is an additional cut (disguised, of course) when they enter it. And finally, no rooms actually lead to the roof where Bond initiates his walk. All they did was add a small section of a fake wall where 007 actuall emerges and the rest is a fake CGI wall.

Excellent job on the field Gerardo! It’s great to hear your experiences on the shoot. How did you manage to get right up to their path toward the helicopter? Did they choose people specifically or did you just have to scramble your way in there?

On the Saturday filming outside the helicopter there was so much shoving/pushing to be close to the helicopter when Bond and Sciarra climbed inside, my guess is that the production people realized the following Monday that these was a motivated group of extras so they allowed us to stay for the helicopter out of control scenes Curiously, very little of that material made it to the final movie.

Great stuff! 🙂

‘A fuck off skeleton chewing on a cigar in your face.’ I burst out laughing when Chris described the opening shot.

Sorry for taking so long in answering your comment which I (obviously) didn’t see until today. The filming of the pre-title sequence here in Mexico took a little more than a week. All the stuff outside the helicopter was filmed on the next to last day (a Saturday) and it was a real struggle because the production people insisted that only the first three rows of extras should look towards the helicopter while the rest should keep an eye on the stage located at the center of the plaza. You wouldn’t believe all the pushing and shoving to get closer to the helicopter (some tempers flared quiet a bit). I remmeber a rather nasty lady becoming really upset with me when she noticed all the progress I made little by little! Unfortunately for her own sake, she was too short so she didn’t end up making it on the final film. I remmember that during that afternoon they filmed the exact same shot of Sciarra aproaching the landing helicopter with the camera following him from behind while we were all pushed backwards by the stunt guys in the first row. They filmed that shot time and time again and yet it didn’t make it to the screen. Instead they opted for a high shot of the helicopter landing with small CGI extras backing away from it. Sunday was an off-day and the next day we all simply took our places from Satuday, only to be told by the production people that they were moving on to the next part of the filming. They asked most of the extras on the square to leave the set and a few dozens of us were left there. We suddenly found ourselves witnessing the fight between Sciarra and Bond’s stunt doubles just a few feet above our heads. They most have filmed around a dozen takes. Looking back,becoming involved in what I find to be one of the most exciting Bond action sequences ever, not only was this the best part of the filming but truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I ended up being involved in quiet a few of the shots and even though I only ended up appearing in a couple of them, I wouldn’t trade anything for the experience of having being present under that out-of control helicopter.

That’s really amazing, such an awesome experience! I imagined the whole thing while reading your story. Thanks a lot!

This comment might be a little late but…..the building behind Sciarra (when the pre-title chase sequence starts) actually does looks like that in real life without the explosion! Some vegetation can be seen growing in its facade, which is something I’ve never seen before.

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SPECTRE 007 Movie Review and Dossier

SPECTRE a 007 movie review

For Bond fans, it’s always difficult to separate our excitement for the latest movie from the quality of the film itself. In the case of SPECTRE , the title alone succeeds in creating an instant state of nostalgia. Iconic villains are assumed, secret lairs are expected and everyone wonders if they will see a certain fluffy white kitty. But, is the movie any good?

On first viewing,  SPECTRE  succeeds as a classic Bondian thriller. It’s chock-full of exciting action, beautiful women, exotic locations, tongue-in-cheek humor, references to previous movies and a memorable villain.

SPECTRE  is also an uneven movie with many flaws. The villain’s character is tragically underused, and his personal connection to 007 ruins his credibility. Bond’s romantic relationships feel forced, extraneous subplots run wild and the film’s action sequences rarely succeed in building tension.

Still, for those who grew up with 007,  SPECTRE  is sure to evoke a sense of childhood wonder and glee … even if it doesn’t feel like one of Bond’s best missions.

005 stars out of a possible 007

… SPOILERS BELOW …

SPECTRE.   the 24th James Bond Movie

After an action-packed pre-title sequence and an  average theme song , Bond meets with the classic MI6 staff — M, Moneypenny and Q — before setting off for his next exotic destination.

From Mexico to London, Rome, Austria and Morocco, Bond is constantly on the move. At every stop, he’s punching, driving, flying, running, snooping, shooting, kissing and fornicating his way into the next clue.

007 seduces valuable information out of a beautiful woman, declares himself Bond, James Bond, follows a new lead and finds his main love interest of the film … who first claims immunity to his charms, before inevitably falling for him later.

He promptly orders a martini “shaken not stirred,” blows a bunch of stuff up, hops on board a train, kills a physically-superior henchman, discovers the villain’s plot, finds himself facing death, gets away, stops the villain, saves the girl and heads off into the sunset.

What more could you want from a Bond film? A cohesive plot, perhaps.

In the 1960s, it was easy to be SPECTRE

Today, the West is more worried about unconstitutional governmental surveillance than global annihilation. Always one to evolve with the times, SPECTRE’s latest scheme is to secretly partner with nine world governments and take over their new massive global surveillance network. The end goal is to, presumably, do bad things with the data? Become Big Brother? It’s not entirely clear, but the fate of the free world seems to be at stake.

Despite clocking in as the longest Bond movie yet,  SPECTRE  never leaves the audience checking their watch. Christoph Waltz does a fantastic job portraying Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Although physical strength is not his forte, the head of SPECTRE comes across as creepy, menacing, evil, sadistic, cruel, calculating and brilliant. When he taunts Bond in the control room of his secret lair, it really feels as if 007 has met his match.

With so much going right, one is left to wonder why the movie rushes through the showdown in Morocco? The entire third act of the film should have taken place inside the SPECTRE compound. After all, this is the matchup fans have been waiting four decades for: Bond vs Blofeld.

However, instead of building tension and developing their relationship, the movie quickly introduces convoluted new plot points, puts Bond in a laughably escapable situation and quickly moves the finale to London … presumably to give the MI6 staff more screen time.

Also confusing is why Blofeld had to be a face from Bond’s past. SPECTRE’s role in Bond’s recent heartbreaks is more than enough reason for 007 to hate Blofeld. Conversely, all the trouble Bond caused over the past decade is sufficient motivation for Blofeld to be vindictive towards 007.

Yet, instead of that plausible relationship, we are expected to believe that the world’s mightiest criminal organization has spent the past ten years trying to piss off James Bond just because their leader has daddy issues. It just doesn’t make sense, and cheapens the stories of  Casino Royale ,  Quantum of Solace  and  Skyfall .

Still, despite these shortcomings,  SPECTRE  is a great Bond movie. It succeeds on more levels than it fails, and hopefully sets the stage for another showdown with Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

WHAT WORKED

The Mexican Pre-Title Sequence

This unique and beautiful style of directorial mastery has never been attempted in a Bond film, and its perfect execution adds a sense of intrigue to the scene and makes the audience feel like they are right there with 007. However, it’s worth noting that the effect was achieved by combining several meticulously choreographed long takes, edited together with shrewdly placed wipes and a small amount of CGI.  1

The rest of the pre-title sequence was equally as beautiful; as the producers recreated an entire Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City … complete with a thrilling helicopter battle above the main square. Truly one of the best of the series.

Theme Song and Titles

While Sam Smith’s oft-lambasted theme song lacks the punch of most other themes, the shortened version used in the movie works well alongside the beautiful visuals.

Daniel Kleinman did an outstanding job designing his seventh Bond title sequence. The dancing girls feature more prominently than they did in  Skyfall , and Daniel Craig got a chance to show off his abs. Featuring scenes from the other Craig-era films was another great touch. And yes, even the strange oily octopus was cool.

Meeting SPECTRE

The Pale King

Another highlight of  SPECTRE  was Bond’s “chess match” with Mr. White. Sure, the metaphor was obvious and a bit of a cliché, but seeing Mr. White slide the octopus ring across the chess board next to the rook, followed by Bond passing his Walther PPK across the board… it’s enough to give you chills.

Franz Oberhauser    Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Although Christoph Waltz publicly claimed that his character was not Blofeld, most Bond fans expected that to change at some point during  SPECTRE . And change it did.

When Bond saw the white Persian cat and heard Oberhauser introduce himself as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a wave of glee came over me. For an extended moment, I was as giddy as a little kid, thrusting my hands into the air and squeeing audibly in the theater.

The squees returned later in the film, when Blofeld reappears with his trademark scar and utters a variation of his classic line from  You Only Live Twice . Waltz may have said, “Goodbye, James Bond,” but all I heard was Donald Pleasence’s voice shouting, “Goodbye, Meeester Bond.”

The MI6 Staff

Although Ralph Fiennes spends too much of SPECTRE in angry/stressed mode, it’s great to see Judi Dench in a short cameo, leading Bond on his latest mission from beyond the grave. One can only hope that future movies develop the relationship with this new M in the same way.

The scene in Q-Lab is an instant classic, as Ben Whishaw channels his inner  Desmond Llewelyn  while making the role his own. The relationship between Q and Bond is playful, familiar, mutually respectful and yet slightly irritated: especially when Q finds 007 in Austria. It’s the best use of the character since Llewelyn joined Timothy Dalton in the field in 1989’s  License to Kill .

Meanwhile, SPECTRE marks the first time we see a bit of Moneypenny’s personal life. Not only does she have a “friend” staying overnight, but she also has a fully-stocked fridge.

The Humor is Back

A side effect of the Craig-era Bond films’ grittiness was a lack of humor. In  SPECTRE , the laughs return. A few highlights include:

  • Bond landing on a couch during the pre-title sequence
  • Bond’s reaction to receiving a green health drink instead of his vodka martini
  • The gadgets failing in his Aston Martin
  • Bond’s face when Q denies him a new car

A few others things to love about  SPECTRE

  • The love scene with Monica Bellucci is a classic example of, “I’ll seduce the bad guy’s girlfriend to get a critical clue.” Except, for once, the woman lives.
  • The train scene was very reminiscent of the Orient Express in  From Russia With Love .
  • Except for Omega and Heineken, most of the product placement was subtle. But boy, they sure did show Bond’s watch a lot.
  • For the first time, we actually see Bond carry luggage. And no, his briefcases and gadgets don’t count. It’s great to know that he has to pack for a mission, just like the rest of us.  (see photo to the right)
  • The MI6 safe house is called “Hildebrand Rarity & Treasures,” which is a reference to a short story called the Hildebrand Rarity in  Ian Fleming’s  For Your Eyes Only .
  • Writing movie reviews seems fascinatingly fun till you actually need to write one, especially under time pressure. There are endless details to analyze and mention, and you might want someone professional to do it for you instead. Write My Paper Hub is a reliable service you can address for help with your papers — be it an argumentative essay or movie review. Pay experts for writing help to spare time to watch movies you actually like. Let’s face it — the ones they offer within the curriculum usually are much less entertaining than “Spectre”. 

WHAT DIDN’T WORK

For all that  SPECTRE  did right, there were quite a few things that didn’t quite work.

Madeline Swann

One can assume that their relationship developed off-screen, as they had plenty of travel time to get to know each other and develop a sense of intimacy. But the audience isn’t along for the ride. We simply see a brief game of cold, then hot, then drunk, then cold, then love. Bond’s interest in Swann doesn’t appear to be much more than a casual fling … yet there he is, driving off to start a new life with her in his DB5.

In  SPECTRE , Sam Mendes seems to be lacking that flare. Other than the magnificent pre-title sequence and his brilliant use of empty space in Morocco, the film seemed a bit flat. Perhaps this is because Roger Deakins, his cinematographer for  Skyfall , was absent from  SPECTRE .

A Few Niggles

  • How was Silva a part of SPECTRE? He seemed like a throw in, just to tie all the Craig-era Bond films together. In reality,  Skyfall  was a stand alone piece … just like  Goldfinger .
  • The car chase was amazing, but what was the purpose? Bautista never tried to overtake or smash Bond. He just chased him.
  • Speaking of Austria, where did Bond find the plane he stole?
  • When the bad guys kidnapped Bond during the finale, was their plan simply to leave him in that lobby? If so, they were basically killed for successfully completing their mission.
  • So Blofeld is Bond’s foster brother? Sounds suspiciously like the plot to  Austin Powers: Goldmember . While it doesn’t bother me, the connection does make the movie a bit of a joke in some circles.
  • How did the SPECTRE ring have the DNA of so many people on it? What are the odds that LeChiffre, Dominic Green, Silva and Blofeld all touched some mid-level SPECTRE agent’s ring?
  • SPECTRE’s meaning is never revealed. Yes, previous adventures tell us it stands for  SP ecial  E xecutive for  C ounter-Intelligence,  T errorism,  R evenge and  E xtortion. But, they never say anything about that in the movie.
  • Hinx is underused. Though, for a character with no dialogue except one final expletive, they do a decent job of developing his character.
  • SPECTRE  is in such a rush to get to the next destination, that no one place is ever explored in any detail. This feels like a missed opportunity
  • For most of the movie, Bond doesn’t even realize what he’s involved in. He’s just stumbling along and happens to find a guy in the middle of doing a bad thing.

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VIDEO

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COMMENTS

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    Spectre - 007 Pre-Title Sequence #24 [1/2] (1080p) Franchise Fan 9.44K subscribers Subscribe 3K views 1 year ago Release Date: November 6th, 2015 Bond Film: #24 Synopsis: Show more Show more...

  2. film techniques

    The opening scene in 2015's Spectre has a long continuous sequence which, as an amateur filmmaker, is difficult to figure out how it might have been done. The movie begins as an apparent crane shot over a Mexico City Day-of-the-dead parade.

  3. Focus Of The Week: Spectre's Day of the Dead scene

    James Bond has visited Mexico before — it provided the colourful backdrop for his revenge mission in Licence To Kill (1989) — but in Spectre (2015) it becomes the focus for a thrilling pre-credits sequence based around the Mexican holiday, the Day of the Dead (Dia de las Muertos).

  4. Spectre

    Sam Mendes Release Date 26 October 2015 (UK) 6 November 2015 (USA) World Premiere 26 October 2015, The Royal Albert Hall, London Locations Pinewood Studios, London locations, UK; Lake Altaussee, Obertilliach and Sölden, Austria; Rome, Italy; Mexico City, Mexico; Tangier, Erfoud and Sahara desert, Morocco Music

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  6. Spectre (2015 film)

    Directed by Sam Mendes and written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Jez Butterworth from a story conceived by Logan, Purvis, and Wade, it stars Daniel Craig as Bond, alongside Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, and Ralph Fiennes. It was distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing.

  7. SPECTRE (2015)

    The title sequence of any James Bond film often has the heaviest burden to carry. It must recall the brand, ooze style, establish tone, excite and awe, all while living up to the high standards set by its predecessors — and Skyfall is a tough act to follow. But as Sam Smith's mournful theme "Writing's on the Wall" says: "I've been here before."

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    No Time To Die. At 20 minutes in length, No Time to Die 's pre-title sequence is the longest in the series by far. It even opens with a pre-pre-title sequence, explaining Safin's motivations through his failed attempted assassination of Mr. White. This cold open acts as a direct sequel to Spectre that ends with Bond mistakenly believing ...

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  12. SPECTRE filming in Mexico

    Filming scenes for the SPECTRE pre-title sequence has started this week in Mexico. Locations in Mexico City will include Plaza Tolsá and surrounding streets, which will be used from 21 - 24 March, and Zócalo, the main square in the city, also known as Plaza de la Constitución, from 25 - 31 March.See a map of the closed roads on CNN Mexico.. SPECTRE clapperboard image showing Day of the Dead ...

  13. A Close Look at the SPECTRE Score by Matthew Grice

    SPECTRE, the 24th installment of the longest running franchise in cinema history has caused a divide amongst fans. ... After having cues taken from Skyfall and music that sounds the same through out the pre title sequence we then get another cue that is taken directly from Skyfall. This time it appears to be snippets of 'Close Shave', track ...

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  18. 30 Days of SPECTRE #002: The Pre-Title Sequence

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  19. Best Pre-Title Sequence? : r/JamesBond

    No Time to Die pre-title sequence is some of the best movie making in the entire franchise. 2. ShorePlain • 6 mo. ago. Casino Royale is by far the best pre-title sequence in the franchise. So raw, well acted, great brutal action and the first and only time the gunbarrel actually has a story reason for existing.

  20. Spectre

    Spectre - 007 Pre-Title Sequence #24 [2/2] (1080p) Franchise Fan 10.7K subscribers Subscribe 3K views 2 years ago Release Date: November 6th, 2015 Bond Film: #24 Synopsis: ...more ...more Watch...

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