Sunday, August 16, 2015

GoldenEye (1995) | Music

So much time had passed between Licence to Kill and GoldenEye that the Broccoli's and Wilson lost some of their traditional partners, including screenwriter Richard Maibaum, director John Glen, and composer John Barry. To replace Barry, they hired French composer Éric Serra who'd worked with Luc Besson on La Femme Nikita and Léon: The Professional.

Serra's score is notorious for its inappropriate (and to my ears, awful) synthesizer music, but there are some lovely orchestral sections. The romantic theme that plays as Bond arrives at the casino in Monte Carlo - and again when he's on the Caribbean beach with Natalya - is beautiful.

Sadly, he didn't include the Bond Theme almost at all, except for an electronic version that was supposed to play during the tank chase. Instead of his version though, the producers hired the score's conductor, John Altman, to write a more traditional arrangement of the Bond Theme that was used in the final cut.

Serra had nothing to do with the theme song, which was written by Bono and The Edge from U2. (Although he did do the closing credits song, a forgettable piece that sounds like a lesser Peter Gabriel or Sting song to me.) During the time when Duran Duran and a-ha were making Bond songs, it was a dream of mine that U2 also get to do one. I was a huge fan of that band. So I was excited that half the group would get to write the song for GoldenEye (appropriately, the other half arranged the Mission: Impossible theme for the first film in that series), but disappointed that it was sung by Tina Turner. She's got a great voice, but I didn't care for her stuff in the '80s and felt that she was another intentional throwback to older Bond songs instead of keeping up with the times, which is what I wanted.

It's a great song though. The  lyrics are dark and creepy, about a woman who's been scorned by a dangerous man and is watching for her chance at revenge. There's a cool parallel between that story and Alec's in the movie, if Alec is the woman and Britain is the man. The "goldeneye" in the song is hers/Alec's as they watch their prey and it fits with the golden peacock eye in Carson McCullers' novel Reflections in a Golden Eye, which may or may not have inspired Ian Fleming for the name of his Jamaican house that gave GoldenEye its title. In McCullers' novel, the peacock sees a horrible, twisted reality that mirrors the point of view of some of the characters in the book. So, as the song points out, the Golden Eye of the Bond film isn't just the name of the MacGuffin, it's also Alec's way of looking at the world. Very cool.

What's also very cool is the opening credits. Maurice Binder was another casualty of the long break after Licence to Kill, so Broccoli and Wilson hired music video director Daniel Kleinman to design the main titles. He'd worked with a variety of bands in the '80s, including Madonna, Van Halen, Pat Benatar, and The Pretenders.

He brings a whole new style to the Bond credits, which was sorely needed, and he's been designing all of them ever since. Instead of just photographic tricks, Kleinman includes computer generated imagery, opening the sequences to many more possibilities and allowing more freedom to include themes from the movie. For GoldenEye, he opens with a reprise of the traditional gun barrel sequence, but shows the flames and bullet shooting out of it. The flames become a golden haze that then becomes a golden eye. This leads into imagery of falling Soviet iconography with some of the statues being broken up by women with hammers (more Soviet symbolism). Some of the statues also have golden eyes, further tying together the themes. And there's a sequence where two women's faces share the same head, representing the two-faced god Janus whose name Alec adopts as an alias. It's a fantastic job by Kleinman and one of my favorite title designs.

Top Ten Theme Songs

1. A View to a Kill
2. The Living Daylights
3. The Spy Who Loved Me ("Nobody Does It Better")
4. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
5. Diamonds Are Forever
6. You Only Live Twice
7. From Russia With Love (instrumental version)
8. Live and Let Die
9. Dr No
10. GoldenEye

Top Ten Title Sequences

1. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
2. Dr No
3. Thunderball
4. Goldfinger
5. GoldenEye
6. From Russia with Love
7. The Spy Who Loved Me
8. Diamonds Are Forever
9. Live and Let Die
10. Moonraker

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