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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just shoot, dummy!!!



Ooooh! I'm always finding out about cool Blog-a-thons after they've happened, so I'm never able to participate, but this time I can. This will be the first post of two in honor of Lazy Eye Theatre's James Bond Blog-a-thon!

This first one will be a quickie, but here's a neat video: every opening "gunbarrel" sequence from every Bond film. How fun to watch this iconic visual make its evolution through the series!


Some observations:

:: The early ones are all really slow, aren't they? I mean, Bond just walks along as slowly as possible. (Of course, it's not even Sean Connery until Thunderball; that's a stuntman or something like that.)

:: Watching all of these, I always wonder about the bad guy with the gun: why doesn't he just shoot, if he's always got Bond dead-to-rights for something like six or seven seconds before Bond whips around and shoots him?! Especially in those first couple of gunbarrel sequences, when Bond's movement into the shooting position is so drawn out that he's practically shouting "I'm gonna shoot you now, Mr. Assassin Who Thinks He's Got the Drop On Me!"

:: Connery always drops down a bit, but stays on his feet; George Lazenby actually drops to his right knee for the kill shot. Roger Moore's shooting stance is to put his feet close together and use his left hand to steady his right arm (his shooting arm). Timothy Dalton returns to a Connery-like stance, whipping his left arm behind him and dropping down a bit. Pierce Brosnan shoots one-handed as well, but doesn't drop down his stance at all. His is probably the quickest delivery of the shot.

:: Moore's the first one to not wear a hat.

:: From The Spy Who Loved Me on, Moore is always wearing a tux when he shoots Mr. Gunbarrel.

:: With Thunderball, the sequence started ending with the "shifting white dot" dissolving into a part of the opening scene, and then irising outward to let us into the entire shot. This would remain the practice until For Your Eyes Only, when after the white dot shows us a piece of the opening scene, we just cut all the way right to it without the irising-outward effect.

:: Never Say Never Again was not an "official" Bond film, so no gunbarrel sequence. They did try to do something that suggests the graphical style of Bond films, though. I rather liked it, actually.

:: For most of the films until the Brosnan era, the shifting-white-dot moves down to the lower right corner, dissolves to a bit of the opening scene, and then either irises out from there or moves back to the center of the screen before irising out. The Brosnan films would move the shifting-dot all over the place, each time. For The World Is Not Enough, it actually dissolves to Bond's face, the first time that Bond is the first thing we see as we emerge from the gunbarrel sequence.

:: Brosnan's gunbarrel isn't static-looking either; the gunbarrel itself reflects the shifting light as it tracks Bond's movement.

:: Die Another Day added a digital bullet ripping right at the viewer. I've never been able to decide if I liked this or if it bothered me.

:: Casino Royale's teaser sequence actually ends with the introduction of the gunbarrel sequence, which was one of the niftier things about that movie. I always thought it would have been cool if they could have worked in a reverse-gunbarrel sequence of some sort into the film's ending, just after Bond finally gets to utter the words "The name's Bond. James Bond." Our old friend, the shifting dot, would appear in reverse, irising down to just Bond's face before fading to white and then allowing the credits to roll.

But what fun to see them all, back to back; the Bond gunbarrel is one of the most iconic things in movies. I rank it right up there with the MGM lion and the 20th Century Fox fanfare, to be honest.

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