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This Week In Bond (September 27th, 2022)
I've been here before
We’re almost there. The 60th-anniversary re-release of the James Bond series in UK cinemas hit ‘Spectre’ this weekend. On a wave of patriotism, audiences came out in droves for ‘Skyfall’, so it will be interesting to see what happens with the box-office numbers later this week for Daniel Craig’s 4-act fourth movie.
The film often comes in for criticism about the ‘Brofeld’ storyline, the slow pace with overlong scenes, and the unneccesary fourth act. But one element that casual viewers missed, but hardened Bond fans like us noticed right away, was the huge overlap in the original soundtrack with ‘Skyfall.’ In fact, many cues and arrangements were recycled leaving very little room for new music. A lot of the blame was thrown at composer Thomas Newman for being “lazy,” but a rarely seen interview with the film’s editor Lee Smith reveals how it came about.
When working previously for Christopher Nolan, the director had Smith edit his films with no music at all until it was done - “the music is the great candy wash that comes at the other end.” It’s a much more difficult process, and Smith admits it helps identify problems with the film when the music isn’t there to hide them. He attempted this process with ‘Spectre,’ but director Sam Mendes didn’t “like watching cuts without music, and that’s fine because I’ve done that before.”
All the Bond films are edited using previous James Bond scores as temp tracks. Often, it’s the preceding film that is used. Smith explained: “In the case of ‘Spectre’ I got a music editor on very early on and we took apart the existing score from ‘Skyfall’ and strung that out and rebuilt cues to suit the new film, just to give us the temp score. We needed it to be in Bond’s world.”
“I saw no reason to pull temp score from other films. We did use other existing score in moments where we clearly couldn’t build it from ‘Skyfall’, but it was great because we were doing a really polished version of a score underneath the editor’s cut and it worked and whenever we played it for producers or Sam I think there was only once or twice where he said we missed the point with the music, but for 90% of the time we were on the money and I think when we started working with Thomas Newman and he was re-writing it, he knew mode and placement of the temp score was pushing all the right emotional buttons.”
Newman was brought in when the film was cut and the editing team had practically scored the film already using ‘Skyfall’ cues. This also explains why the music reused from ‘Skyfall’ only came from the cues found on the OST release and not the whole film - Smith and his editing team pulled the tracks from the CD release.
“I know that would have been hard for him, because it’s already his score and I know how tough that is, but I kept saying to him, “But it’s so good!” I can’t put other composers scores on this movie! (laughs) He was great and incredibly collaborative.”
“There were a couple of sequences that we couldn’t get right in the temp, even as I was assembling them with the existing music or other temp music and he demoed up those sequences to fix that problem. By the time we came to do audience screenings, we had a soundtrack that sounded like a finished movie. No one would have known that film wasn’t finished when the audience test screened it.”
Newman may be off the hook now for ‘Spectre’s musical shortcomings, but there really is no reason why the film couldn’t have had a truly original soundtrack. John Barry managed to score ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ in just three weeks.
The Ian Fleming Foundation celebrated 30 years this month with a glamourous party held at the Bond In Motion exhibition at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles. You can read a full report from the star-studded evening here.
Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were busy in Los Angeles earlier in the week, collecting an award, adding their handprints to the TCL theatre, and providing interviews to both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. They then jetted back to London where we were fortunate enough to interview Michael about the upcoming Christie’s auction and his long tenure on the series. Look out for that in a future edition of MI6 Confidential magazine.
Despite the general consensus that ‘Spectre’ is one of the weaker entries in the series, there are still a lot of great things going on and creatives at the top of their game put blood, sweat & tears into making it. We corral a panel of Mark Edlitz, Bill Koenig, and Sean Longmore to pluck the gems from the 2015 adventure:
Pierce Brosnan takes us through 10 items he can’t live without.
‘Spectre’ had a lot of VFX work to change real-world locations, add details, and even create animals. Here are some examples so that next time you watch the film you can spot the digital manipulation!
Exit Through The Gift Shop
A new album of all 25 title songs from the series, arranged and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, has been released on CD and Vinyl. ‘Bond 25’ has received mixed reviews so far, so you can check out the tracks on YouTube before you invest.
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