Bond Pretitle Sequences: A View to a Kill
Simon Pitt |
Tuesday 23rd July
I’m watching all of the Bond pre-credit teasers one after another.
A View to a Kill
There’s one question on people’s minds when they watch A View to a Kill. Is this the worst Bond film ever made? The answer is no, of course. That honour goes to Moonraker. But there are bits of A View to a Kill that make it a contender. A serious contender.
A View to a Kill is Roger Moore’s last outing as Bond. He was 57, and looked it. Everyone thought Moore was too old to play the role. Even Roger Moore thought Roger Moore was too old to play Bond. “I was only about 400 years too old for the part,” he said. Interestingly, that means Moore would have been 388 years too old for Live and Let Die and suggests he should have never played Bond. I might be inclined to agree with him. Sean Connery seemed genuinely angry that someone so old would try to be Bond. Despite the fact that he played Bond two years earlier in Never Say Never Again.
The film begins with an awkward disclaimer:
Neither the name Zorin nor any other name or character in this film is meant to portray a real company or actual person
Late in the filming, the producers discovered a real fashion design company called Zoran Ladicorbic Ltd. It’s a shocking oversight to discover this so late in the process. Film, radio and TV programmes carry out “neg checks”, a process to see if there are any real people who might be affected by the programme. For example, if you were writing a film about a small bespectacled flatulent banker called Colin who lived in Shrewsbury, you’d check that there wasn’t anyone who might be affected by that portrayal. If you found someone, you’d change an identifying detail so that poor old Colin in the Shrewsbury branch of Santander doesn’t get people accusing him of letting loose a stinker.
To find out that there’s a real, similarly named company so late in the process is sloppy to say the least.
Moore looks like he’s walking through mist in the gun barrel sequence. Most Bond actors only filmed this once, and then used it at the beginning of each Bond film. Other than Daniel Craig, that is, who has filmed a different “sort of” gun barrel sequence for each film he’s been in. Moore’s sequence is looking old. He’s wearing silly flared trousers. And bizarrely, he puts his non-gun hand on the top of his other arm. It’s as if he’s never used a gun.
We open on a load of ice in Siberia. Bond is dressed in snow camouflage, except for some silly “B” gold cuff links (come on, Bond, really?), and is using a tracking device to find 003’s body. The first shot of Moore’s face is probably the weakest “Bond-reveal” so far.
Inside 003’s locket, he finds a microchip. Just as he does, someone spots him and opens fire. John Barry’s excellent score starts. At least this film has that redeeming feature. There’s an impressive stunt as the stunt man leaps into the crevasse on skies. The best parts of this opening sequence are when the stunt man is being Bond.
Bond is off skiing. There are some huge jumps here, and Bond falls over a few times. His ski is even smashed to pieces by gunfire from a helicopter. The start of this sequence is strong; this isn’t an easy escape for Bond.
Bond gives up on his single ski completely, and instead hooks a man off a snow-ski. There’s a faintly amusing shot where the guy is left screaming impotently in Russian as he hangs off the cliff.
Unfortunately, it’s still not going well for Bond. Or the special effects team who introduce the worst bit of screen work to date. The lighting effects are awful. They should have just cut this shot; up until then, it’s been really good.
With his snow ski destroyed, Bond improvises and starts snowboarding. There have been theories that Bond invented snowboarding. He didn’t, but he did, perhaps, introduce it to the masses. This whole sequence though is destroyed by an awful music change. There’s an electronic bit of nonsense and The Beach Boys song "California Girls" interrupts Barry’s soundtrack, ruining even that. IMDB comments that this was an in-joke. I hope they laughed a lot, because it is an absolutely awful moment.
Strong music is one thing you can always count on in Bond. This use of The Beach Boys ranks, for me, as one of the worst moments in the whole Bond series. John Barry reportedly protested against this, but was overruled. I can’t tell you how angry this music makes me. What’s even more irritating is there are actually some very impressive stunts in this sequence. They’re totally undermined by the score, though.
Bond finally manages to shoot the helicopter down with a flare. The pacing on this section is wrong. We lose any sense of tension or feeling that Bond only has one shot, and instead have an overly long sequence of watching a helicopter flailing about with red smoke coming out of it. There’s a lot of hand’s sliding down windows. It’s like the sex scene from Titanic.
Finally the helicopter explodes in a ridiculously over the top explosion. What do they build these helicopters out of? Uranium?
Bond meanwhile, is rendezvousing with a weird iceberg submarine. It’s carefully camouflaged, but with a Union flag painted on the inside of the hatch. Not the best idea ever. Either Q branch is going a weird in the head or Bond has pimped his sub.
The whole ship is inexplicable. It’s like some sort of weird bachelor, sex-pad. Why would MI6 fill an undercover sub with a giant sofa bed? And why do it out in soft white colours like this? The submarine trundles off and we crash into the title sequence.
This is not a bad opening sequence, but it’s destroyed by an appalling use of music and all the moments when Moore is on screen. There are some impressive stunts, and I quite like the idea of a submarine disguised as an iceberg. But really, Bond, wouldn’t that bottle of Vodka dig into you when you jumped off some of those cliffs? I find the submarine creepy more than anything else. It’s like one of those dungeons you read about in the seedier tabloids. God knows what else is in that overhead locker, along with the MI6 standard issue vodka glasses.
Name Rank and Number
I think he got the Point
- The woman in the submarine uses Bond’s rank, which we don’t often hear: “Command Bond!”
- Bond tells her to “Call me James. It’s five days to Alaska!”
- Although we only find this out after the credits, the man Bond uncovers in the snow is 003. These double-oh agents are falling like flies. 004 dies in the opening of The Living Daylights and 006 in Goldeneye (well sort of) .
Do all those vodka martinis silence the screams of all the men you've killed?
- “I thought you'd never get back.” The woman says. “There was a heck of a crowd on the piste,” Bond quips.
- “Mission accomplished?” She asks. “Best beluga. Vodka, rather shaken, and one microchip”. Bond’s missions are part spy operation and part trip to the off-licence
Listen Carefully 007
- Bond fires a flare into a helicopter and the pilot and gunner die when it crashes.
Perfect for relaxing after a hard day at the office
- This is actually Bond’s only time on a mission inside Russia.
SP will return…
- 003 must have some sort of tracking device on him, and Bond has a receiver to track it down
- Q Branch have built a submarine disguised as an iceberg. Why they fitted it out with a white velvet sofa bed thing, I don’t understand…