“Earth’s crystal tears, the fall of snowflakes on your body.
First time in years to drench your skin in lover’s rosy stain.
A chance to find the phoenix for the flame.
A chance to die, but can we dance into the fire?”
It’s time for another 00 Saturdays here at Film Seizure. This week, I’ll be discussing one of the better things in the relatively abysmal A View to a Kill – the music!
Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” is a very important entry in the Bond series of theme songs. It is the only Bond theme song to reach #1 in the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States. There’s good reason for it too.
To start, Duran Duran was very popular in the 80s. Their songs “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio” are still popular to this day. The story behind the song is that the band’s bassist John Taylor is a lifelong Bond fan. He approached Albert Broccoli at a party and drunkenly asked him when they were going to get somebody good to do the theme. I guess that was enough for Cubby to hire the band to do the song.
Duran Duran co-wrote the song with John Barry and it was released in May 1985. Thanks to the popularity of the band, the Bond series, and MTV, “A View to a Kill” was a smash hit. Funny enough, though, the song was the last one written and recorded by the original members of the band until they finally fully regrouped in 2001.
As a whole, this is still a song that has a dual fan base. It has the built in fan base from the Bond movies, but it also is still enjoyed by fans of Duran Duran who don’t really care about the Bond movies. It’s definitely a culmination of a great theme song that was perfect for its time, by a very popular band, for a very popular franchise. It’s definitely one of the better themes to date.
John Barry did something a little different for A View to a Kill – he obviously rearranged or reconfigured some of his past pieces. I think this works really well for the movie. Musically, there is a little bit of a send off feel to the score. It’s like he realizes this film is getting pretty close to the end of the line for both Roger Moore and himself.
For example, he modifies the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service composition for a few pieces in the movie in particularly action-packed scenes. Additionally, he borrowed a little bit from his “007” theme as well as space motifs used in Diamonds Are Forever and You Only Live Twice. From this, he was able to utilize them in leitmotifs to pin them to various characters or sequences.
Of course, he also had the advantage of the music from the theme song as well to sprinkle throughout the film in usually slower versions. Most of the time he used that piece was when Bond is with Stacey. In some ways, that slower version of the theme would used as a love theme which was pretty common for Barry’s scores.
I think the score and the theme song are both two examples of things that work in an otherwise pretty silly film. John Barry does succeed in having something that does keep you engaged in the film. Sadly, this wold be his penultimate score before moving on from the series forever.
The Opening Title Sequence
Oh man… How do you match a theme song that is so totally 80s? You call up Maurice Binder and let him blow out the neon budget with the following opening title sequence:
Light reflective neon nails, body paint, ribbons barely covering boobs, lipstick, tube tops, miniskirts, scarves… You name it, the titles go for it. Even the guns are neon colored. Also, allow me to applaud the 007 between the boobs of the girl in the snowsuit at the start of the sequence.
Of course, there is good use of flame effects to match the chorus of Duran Duran, while also pulling in skiing motifs and ice to match the pre-titles sequence in Siberia despite the rest of the movie seemingly taking place in summer in France and San Francisco. It’s just one of those title sequences that we’ve seen in the past from Binder. It’s totally of its time and it isn’t ashamed to be. Some of his 60s sequences were classy while still having some sex appeal to them. The ones in the 70s felt more acrobatic and overly lovey dovey which I think is more of that decade that the two sandwiching it. Then, here, 80s all the way. It was 1985 and neon was hot and if there was a way to use body paint that would glow off blacklights and it could be used on a totally nude chick, it was gonna happen.
In fact, I’m pretty sure you can just show these titles to any kid born after that decade and say, “See, kid… This was the 80s. Everyone was doing neon stuff.”
Join me next week for a look at the start of a new era in the Bond franchise, The Living Daylights.