The Art of the Title interviews Daneil Kleinman, the designer of James Bond’s latest outting as well as covering the history of a franchise which has been consistent in delivery more and more ellaborate title sequecenes.
In the last interview before his passing in 1991, longtime Bond titles directorMaurice Binder observed that Bond sequences were the likely precursors to the modern day music video, in that they blended experimental filmmaking and pop culture into a format perfectly suited for pop music. From the ‘60s onwards, the Bond theme song, and its title sequence by proxy, have become synonymous with rock n’ roll’s biggest (or sometimes, trendiest) acts, and in doing so lent credibility to the MTV-led music video explosion of the early-to-mid-’80s.
In only a few years’ time, music videos had Bond title sequences beat at their own game, with the popularity of the format attracting first-string talent, new ideas and technologies. Fierce competition between record labels, increasingly eccentric musical acts and unprecedented album sales afforded directors heavy creative license and control over their product. Acknowledging the format’s reach, Bond’s production company EoN joined the circus, commissioning videos for their theme songs independent of the film’s title sequence, often loaded with scenes from the film itself, thus doubling as trailers.
Ironically, their first such venture was a title sequence itself: For Your Eyes Onlyin 1981, directed by Binder, featuring Sheena Easton performing her theme song from within Bond’s world. EoN’s first proper music video was Rita Coolidge’s All Time High, the theme song for Octopussy (1983), beginning a trend that would become a cornerstone of the franchise’s marketing campaign.
It was on Binder’s final Bond film, License to Kill (1989) that EoN commissioned Daniel Kleinman to direct the video for Gladys Knight’s theme song of the same name. A veteran music video director with over a hundred videos under his belt, Kleinman’s experimental techniques and affection for technology seemed a perfect match for the job, and while he never met Binder while working on the video, his influence was very apparent, employing several telltale 007 title sequence tropes including window mattes, scale-independent compositions and sultry femme fatales.
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