As strange as this may sound, this week’s Take One will focus on the gun barrel sequence that kicks off every James Bond film. Maurice Binder, who created the titles for most of the Bond films until GoldenEye (except for From Russia with Love and Goldfinger) those were created by Robert Brownjon) took a small camera and stuck it inside the barrel of a gun and took a picture of it. He inserted it to the beginning sequence of Dr. No. It goes like this: a man in a dapper outfit walks with a white background behind him. The gun barrel is following him and when the man is in the middle of the screen, he turns on his heel and shoots at the camera. Animated blood flows down the camera, indicating that the shooter is dead. The producers, Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, didn’t know what it was. He explained to them that it was a gun barrel. It has been an icon of the franchise and has been parodied hundreds of times. But what is somewhat strange is, that before Casino Royale, there was no real back story to the Gun Barrel. Who was he shooting at? Was the man James Bond? The answer to the latter of the questions is, Of course he is! However, in Casino Royale, we are finally introduced to an actual story, a definite genesis of, not only the series, but of 007 himself.
When Bond discovers that one of the MI6 agents has been selling secrets to the Russians, he tracks down the one who has been taking the money. He gets into a brawl with the man in a bath room, and after holding the man’s head in a sink, Bond throws him to the floor. Bond’s gun had been tossed across the room during the fight, and when he bends down to pick it up, it is discovered that the man who had been thought dead, was really alive…and has a gun of his own. At this, we have the point of view of the bad guy’s gun and we can see Bond turn around and shoot the man. And voila, the Evolution of the Gun Barrel.
I think that this move to create a back story for the famous sequence was very good, especially because Casino Royale was a reinvention movie, a back-to-basics for Bond recreating the entire series. The film succeeds in every way (Thank gosh there’s no invisible car!), with Bond on his first mission.
But 2006’s gun barrel sequence wasn’t the first reinvention for Bond. In 1995, Daniel Kleinman took the original gun barrel and created a 3D version, distorting the image according to light balance as the gun barrel moves across the screen. The blood looks more realistic, a change from the cartoon blood that had, before then, flowed down the screen for over thirty years. Sean Connery did not actually appear in a Gun Barrel sequence until 1965’s Thunderball. The man who was actually in front of the camera was stunt man Bob Simmons, who coordinated stunts for several of the movies. This is one of the most famous images in the world and Craig will assume the role of Bond in the next 007 film, Quantum of Solace, on November 14.
Bob Simmons Gun Barrel:
Sean Connery Gun Barrel:
Pierce Brosnan Gun Barrel:
Daniel Craig Gun Barrel: