'Skyfall' Opening Credits: How Mendes Got Adele for 'the first good Bond song' and A Look at Past Openers and Songs (VIDEO)

Features
by Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
November 19, 2012 2:02 PM
9 Comments
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A shot from the opening credit sequence in "Skyfall"
One of the joys of "Skyfall" is its darkly psychedelic opening credit sequence, which combines to great effect Adele's soaring song with the iconic Bond graphics overlaid on Daniel Craig's sinking figure. We're basically watching Bond's fall into death as images pass before his eyes. Sam Mendes' latest installment in the franchise is crammed with purposeful references to 007 films of yore, but perhaps the best is that hit song. Music has long been used to sell movies, but never more than with the Bond franchise.

Think for starters of Brit Shirley Bassey's classic "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever," Paul McCartney and Wings' "Live and Let Die" or Marvin Hamlisch and Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" for "The Spy Who Loved Me."

Mendes was lucky to nab Adele, today's reigning global pop diva, whose soulful belting also links to the past. In a recent interview with TOH!, the director describes how Adele came on board. She was initially hesitant because she wasn't sure if her trademark personal lyrics would vibe with a Bond theme. Mendes told her, "Just write a personal song. Nobody does it better. Just think in those terms." He then told her the story of "Skyfall," so that she'd have narrative reference points.

Adele took the script home with her and couldn't put it down -- she even read it while in the bath. Two months later she sent a music file to Mendes, who says he listened to the track on repeat for hours while driving through the countryside en route from a filming location. He then played it for producer Barbara Brocolli and Daniel Craig, "who both shed a tear, because it's the first good Bond song."

When the song "Skyfall" debuted on October 5, it immediately soared to the top of the iTunes charts. A week later, the song had rocketed from the Hot 100 on Billboard charts to the Top 10. Sitting at No. 8 and then moving up to No. 3, it wasn't even the reigning champ, but it is Adele's biggest debut to date. The November 9 opening of the film gave it another boost, kicking it up from spot 56 to 33, and placing it in the Hot Digital Songs Top 10 (with 91,000 downloads sold, as of November 16).

The memborable opening credits sequence accompanying the song was created by title designer Daniel Kleinman, who discusses the difficulties of the length of the sequence, paying homage to original Bond title designer Maurice Binder without making the graphics look like "knockoffs," and melding underwater photography with CG, here.

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9 Comments

  • ganderman | January 10, 2013 6:56 PMReply

    Bless you, Sam Mendes, for making SKYFALL one of the very best 007 movies, maybe even the most emotionally satisfying. Now, assuming the above quote is accurate: please go put on the soundtrack for ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, listen to Track 1 and reconsider whether Adele's is the first good Bond song.

  • René | November 19, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    If you're going to talk Bond Song Highlights please please please do not ever try to forget Nancy Sinatra for You Only Live Twice, Tom Jones for Thunderball, Matt Monro for From Russia With Love, Louis Armstrong for We Have All The Time In The World from the film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Shirley Bassey's Moonraker song, For Your Eyes Only, Gladys Knight on License to Kill and Tina Turner on Goldeneye. Not to say the rest is crap but these are the great ones. Adele won't have any trouble fitting into that line.

  • David S | November 19, 2012 3:55 PMReply

    @Old Fart:

    You sir didn't get it at all. She recorded a demo, that's it (piano-vocal probably). Also, you seem to have no idea how today's music business work, so stop whining.

  • Old Fart | November 19, 2012 4:59 PM

    You mean that's not enough of a reason to keep whining?! Spoilsport. But thanks for the clarification anyway.

  • Old Fart | November 19, 2012 2:55 PMReply

    "Adele took the script home with her and couldn't put it down -- she even read it while in the bath. Two months later she sent a music file to Mendes..."

    Is that an oversimplification of the process or am I missing something? Are you telling me that this is how it's done these days? You hire a singer and THEY turn in a completed track? The studio doesn't hire a composer or an orchestra? In the old days, John Barry would get the orchestra prepared while Shirley Bassey or Tom Jones or Nancy Sinatra would be given the sheet music and then on recording day, they'd come in and rehearse it with the studio orchestra and when all were confident they were ready, they'd record it. I can't imagine anyone telling Lulu (THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN) to go off and come up with a Bond theme song and expect a finished recording all ready to be dropped in over the credits.
    I miss the days when songwriters would write songs, composers would compose, arrangers would arrange, conductors would conduct and singers, when they got the song, would just sing.

  • jingmei | November 19, 2012 9:43 PM

    What you complainted about is not the point of this article.

  • Visitor | November 19, 2012 2:51 PMReply

    The first good Bond song? It is about as memorable as the rest of her music and most "contemporary" music today, which is to say not particularly memorable at all.

  • Visitor | November 20, 2012 5:25 PM

    @ Jingmei. Not really. I do not like Lady Gaga or most of the "artists" on the radio nowadays either. But I do not go out of my way to criticize them unless someone has to trash older music to raise one of them higher.

  • jingmei | November 19, 2012 9:42 PM

    It only means you don't like Adele's music.

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