James Bond: 50 Years of Main Title Design

Title sequences and James Bond movies go hand in hand. Art of the Title looks back at the last fifty years and profiles the artists that brought the sequences to life.

After 50 years and 23 films, the James Bond franchise is inarguably the most successful and steadfast in film history. Based on a canon of novels by journalist and WWII intelligence officer Ian Fleming, Bond was already a household name in the United Kingdom a decade before reaching the silver screen. But it was Sean Connery’s performance as a souped-up version of Fleming’s iconic superspy that turned 007 into one of the UK’s largest cultural exports, on par with Doctor Who and The Beatles.

In his literary form, Bond was a much-welcomed boost of national pride for a country which had only begun to stabilize after the War; on film, he became an icon for a postwar boom generation with aspirations and disposable income, with Connery leading the charge as the world’s most famous playboy on and off the job. Bond films became style forecasts, dictating everything from fashion and gadgetry in the pages of Playboy and Esquire, interior design courtesy of visionary set designer Ken Adam, to car, drink, and firearm preferences around the world.

The mission began in 1962 with Dr. No, Fleming’s sixth Bond novel. Since then, the franchise has cycled through six leading actors, eleven directors and two generations of producers, but it has always followed the blueprint of Fleming’s original works – if more in spirit than in literal adaptation – despite having exhausted most of his material by the late ’80s. And while its reasons for success are as numerous as its fans, every Bond film carries in it the same root DNA – a cocktail* of simple ingredients, in varying quantities: international conspiracy and espionage, high-tech gadgetry, supervillains, nine-life action scenes with explosions disproportionate to their cause, exotic locations, sultry associates and cheeky one-liners – all summarized in a simple phrase known the world over:

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