The James Bond series, originating in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, is arguably one of the most iconic and well-known examples of opening title sequence design. From the original 1962 adaptation of Fleming’s work, Dr. No, a stunning collection of artful and immensely-detailed opening credits followed; resulting from this, certain imagery and even film scores can now be associated with the wildly-popular films. James Bond films have truly set and maintained the precedent for the graphic design in film.

In the latest installment of the James Bond series, the 2015 film Spectre pits Bond against a global criminal organization that he must discover and dismantle. This, along with the plots of several other proceeding James Bond films, can be seen to be represented in the opening title sequence. Through the use of sound, lighting, and images, the plot of several films is masterfully combined to communicate the meaning and form a beautiful final product- arguably the best James Bond title sequence to date.

Commencing the title sequence of the film, “Writings on the Wall“ by Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes plays as Bond flies over the skyline of Spain. This song can most notably be heard mirroring the stylistic composition of previous James Bond film scores with orchestral elements. The choice of song can immediately be interpreted as more somber than previous James Bond title sequences by the tempo, lyrics, and key of the score. Although the slow tempo persists throughout the entire title sequence, more powerful notes in the song can be seen corresponding to larger, excitement-provoking visual elements such as fire or stunt-like actions by actors. Softer notes were seen paired with slow or more sensual motions. Midway through the title sequence, the line, “will haunt me from my past,“ can be seen paired with other visual elements from previous James Bond installments. This clearly demonstrated the very intentional and well thought out composition of both the song lyrics and the final title sequence. During an image of the leaders of Spectre, a rising scale is played followed by descending notes on deep brass instruments indicated a sense of danger around these individuals. This, along with several other instances, helps to convey a sense of emotion and help to foreshadow the plot of the movie.

When considering lighting in the opening title sequence of Spectre, the juxtaposition of dark and light was extremely important in conveying tone and emotion. When Bond is flying over the skyline of Spain, the golden light sends a message of optimism; this immediately changes to a dark background when looking into the octopus insignia of the Spectre ring. This very effectively communicates not only a sense of danger associated with the Spectre organization but a difficult mission ahead for James Bond. After this, a scene of a fire and several women can be seen to represent passion in James’ life- this suddenly changes into another dark, monochromatic scene with Bond and a singular woman. This helps to communicate a sense of intimacy and the very apparent inclusion of female characters in the plotline of the unfolding film. After this, another ominous scene is presented with images of past people which Bond has either lost or outwitted. This helps to communicate that, although not directly involved in the plotline, the dark memories of past people’s involvement will be instrumental in the way in which the plot is resolved. This also provokes a sense of empathy for Bond as his death-riddled past is showcased.  The trend of several dark scenes is finally broken when a downlit image of James Bond can be seen walking towards the presumed leader of the Spectre organization. This alludes to the fact that, although a seemingly questionable outlook, Bond will prevail in his efforts in combating the organization. The final scene of the title sequence can also be seen to manipulate the element of light when Bond is holding the Spectre ring against a bright background, alluding to his eventual triumph over Spectre and hopefulness in the viewer.

In regard to the use of imagery in the James Bond title sequence, several new, as well as previously used symbols, are used to map out the plot of the film and communicate a sense of meaning. Immediately at the commencement of the title sequence, the Spectre octopus insignia can be seen making a debut. After this, a fiery Spectre insignia and a scene of Bond and a woman free falling are displayed. This is likely because as a result of his involvement with the Spectre organization, several women close to him met their unfortunate ends. This was likely represented with freefall imagery to demonstrate his inability to control his surroundings. This once again evokes a sense of empathy for Bond, as well as enthrallment in the stunning CGI. In the following scene with Bond and an unknown woman, tentacles of an octopus can be seen wrapping tightly around both of them. This imagery likely demonstrated the all-consuming nature of the Spectre organization to which Bond did not fully comprehend until later in the film. This makes the viewer question Bond’s involvement. Soon after this, the sequence shows the presumed leader of the Spectre organization with the face of a skull. Although this can be tied to the movie’s opening scene of a Dia De Los Muertos celebration, this certainly is foreshadowing imminent death in the plotline. However, possibly the most powerful scene of the opening title sequence was when Bond was aiming his pistol into a seemingly dark abyss, only firing when aided by the tentacles of the Spectre octopus. Although the firing of the gun could be interpreted purely as a motif of previous Bond title sequences, the falling of nameless women seems to evoke a deeper meaning. This likely helps to symbolize a large number of casualties from Bond’s efforts in the coming scenes, evoking a somber reaction from viewers.

When considering the integration of all of these unique elements into one cohesive title sequence, the end result is magnificent. These devices all help to convey a sense of darkness in the mission ahead of James Bond as well as shine a beacon upon what the viewer can infer is a hopeful end.