Art of the Title: Skyfall
In brief, Skyfall is a strong close to the origin trilogy, which had a phenomenal start and semi-disastrous middle. It’s difficult to compare it to Casino Royale, because they both have different strengths and mighty few weaknesses. A couple scenes in the back half of Skyfall could have been trimmed or cut in the writing process; no such thing could be said of Craig’s first venture.
Sam Mendes’s direction was superb, the cinematography was also good – especially the fading day from yellow to blue back to orange at the house – and several long, well-choreographed takes broke up the intensive, well-edited but brisky-clipped chase and fight scenes. Skyfall could best be described as balanced, but in trying/succeeding in being all-encompassing, it gets a tad long.
I’m not here to expound upon Bond, either as a film or as social theory (for conflicting views on the latter, see here and here), but to discuss its comprehensive title sequence. Click here to watch HQ, or see the lower-quality version below.
In a masterstroke of planning, the sequence touches on not only every major location (and some minor props, such as the mirror and the stag) in Skyfall, but major images from the entire series. We have the hall of mirrors (The Man With The Golden Gun), a graveyard (Live and Let Die), the Dragon Dance (the film escapes me), miniature figures (The Spy Who Loved Me), underwater caverns and grappling (From Russia With Love, The World is Not Enough, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only), shifting sands (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Quantum of Solace), craterous terrain (Moonraker, and I know that’s a stretch, but do we really want a blatant reference to this worst film?), a stag/horns, target silhouettes, naked women (approximately 100% of the titles but especially Goldfinger), falling guns and daggers (Goldeneye), jellyfish-esque tendrils (You Only Live Twice, Octopussy), crosses, an eye (Thunderball, Die Another Day), guillotine shadows, a maze of pillars (Casino Royale), mini moving silhouettes/shadows (The Living Daylights, License to Kill), blood imagery (another almost 100%), skulls (Live and Let Die), going down a gun barrel (Dr No), fire, the mutating maze-like cipher (Tomorrow Never Dies), a masked face, mirrored/kaleidoscopic images (The World is Not Enough, Quantum of Solace), a Nazi symbol (Goldfinger, A View To a Kill), a grave, meteors (seen elsewhere as streaking bombs), and more.
All these motifs are also within Skyfall, which also contains other nods to the series, most notably a tattoo and the Aston Martin, but also standards such as flares, trains, mini radios, and of course, the suits! It’s impressive and somewhat overwhelming, but a fitting and beautiful 50th anniversary spectacular. If I live to the 100th anniversary, I promise I will holo-blog about that title sequence, too.
- The title sequence was the first 60-second stretch in which we didn’t have product placement. Said pimping was rather ubiquitous though better-done than I expected.
- You could see it as an anti-feminist plotline, but M’s storyline of failure, redemption, and veneration/success through the next ‘generation’ is a classic one, and due to a great actress like Dame Judi Dench.
- Here’s hoping M, Q, and Moneypenny are signed for pictures at least halfway through the next Bond. As for said next Bond – because much as I love Craig, I know it won’t last too much longer – my vote is here.