Sunday, September 20, 2015

Casino Royale (2006) | Music

To fit the tone of Casino Royale, the filmmakers wanted a strong, masculine voice to sing the theme song. They hired Soundgarden's Chris Cornell to co-write it with David Arnold and sing it. I was never a fan of Soundgarden or Cornell, but man, that song is perfect. For the music, Arnold kept the feel of the Bond Theme without actually referencing it. Cornell's lyrics are basically a letter from Bond to Le Chiffre (or any victim, really) and he belts them out with as much conviction and confidence as Bond himself. As a rule, I prefer Bond songs to include the name of the movie, but not this time. It describes the feel of the movie too completely to want the words "Casino Royale" forced in just to satisfy tradition.

Daniel Kleinman also outdid himself on the credits sequence. Anyone could have predicted the card motif, but the two-dimensional, papercut look is surprising and unique. Kleinman mixes games and violence by turning spades and hearts into bullets, diamonds into blades, and using clovers to suggest gunsmoke. He also creates roulette wheels out of crosshairs.

On another occasion, crosshairs move over a Queen card to reveal the face of Eva Green. She's the only woman in the credits. This is too serious a business to mess around with naked assassins or female-shaped oil spills. The only silhouettes are of men fighting and killing each other, reminding me of the covers to the '80s Berkley editions of the Fleming novels.

The credits end with two bullet holes being shot into the 7 of Hearts, turning the number into a 007. That transitions into a computer screen that reads, "James Bond - 007. Status confirmed," letting the credits sequence also serve as a narrative transition from the teaser to the movie proper.

Because "You Know My Name" is so brash and badass, Arnold is able to use it as an action theme throughout the movie. He's never been shy about including the Bond Theme in the films, but except for a few, suggestive notes here and there, he withholds the Theme this time, because Bond hasn't earned it yet. He finally lets Bond (and us) have it at the very end, making it super powerful and important. And making viewers super impatient for the next film.

Top Ten Theme Songs

1. A View to a Kill
2. "Surrender" (end credits of Tomorrow Never Dies)
3. "You Know My Name" (Casino Royale)
4. The Living Daylights
5. "Nobody Does It Better" (The Spy Who Loved Me)
6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
7. Diamonds Are Forever
8. You Only Live Twice
9. From Russia With Love (instrumental version)
10. The World Is Not Enough

Top Ten Title Sequences

1. Casino Royale
2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
3. Dr No
4. Thunderball
5. Goldfinger
6. GoldenEye
7. From Russia with Love
8. The Spy Who Loved Me
9. Die Another Day
10. Tomorrow Never Dies

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