Thursday, January 30, 2014


James Bond is a billion dollar movie series running from 1962 all the way to 2012 with the release of the latest Bond, Skyfall. I am a pretty big 007 fan and have seen all of the films to date. The most recent film, Skyfall, had an outstanding soundtrack composed by Tomas Newman. Newman has been composing since the 1980s and has won many awards. These awards include a Grammy and a BAFTA award as well as a nomination for an Academy Award for his work in Skyfall.

When most people think of James Bond movies and music they think of the famous introduction video that accompanies each film. While I could easily talk about the introduction music video sung by Adelle, I would rather dissect a specific scene. This scene is about 45 minutes into the movie when Bond, played by Daniel Craig, begins his mission in Shanghai, China.

Bond follows a man from the airport to a tall office building downtown where he follows the man inside. As bond watches the man from his car the song, “Jellyfish” begins with a slow medium pitched violin. As he enters the building shakers begin to play to speed up the tempo of the music and add a mysterious and upbeat sound. Bond watches the man get on an elevator and the string instruments begin to speed up and become higher pitched to make the viewer ready for something exciting about to happen. Moments later Bond runs after the climbing elevator to jump up and grab hold underneath. As soon as he grabs on a quick loud note is played followed by a fast much deeper melody being played by the strings accompanied by a deep horn of some sort. Then as the elevator climbs the building and you see how tall it is the music exponentially gets loud with the use of some brass instruments to show the audience how big and grand the building is. As the elevator climbs Bond loses a grip for a second and loud, scratchy horns play to make the moment intense. As the elevator reaches the top the music softens and the strings fade out. It is dark and a soft piano begins to play. The use of the piano and its soft notes makes it seem very quiet. The only thing that makes noise is the gun that the man is putting together which is made louder than the music to make the audience aware that it is important in the scene. Then the man is then shown pointing the gun out of a window and aiming it at someone in a building across the street. The music very quickly picks back up with loud progressive strings that make everything intense. As the man shoots the gun the music immediately goes silent.

This scene is very special and really shows how music adds to a movie. In this scene there is zero talking and the only noise that the audience hears is the music and brief sound effects. There is an obvious ethos and logos argument that Tomas Newman is a famous composer and therefor credible and a logical choice for making the music behind the film. However the music that goes along with this scene is impressive and really connects to the viewer and contains a pathos appeal because it is full of emotion. The way the music is played, whether fast, slow, loud, or soft it is goes along perfectly with the film to make the audience feel what is going on in the scene. The quote at the top of chapter 5 in Understanding Movies explains my thoughts perfectly, “Cinematic sound … does not simply add to, but multiplies, two or three times, the effect of the image.” –Akria Kurosawa.

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