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Why the James Bond gunbarrel should return in Bond 23

When Casino Royale was released in 2006, many Bond fans complained that it was missing the traditional gunbarrel sequence at the beginning.

This bit of Bond-lore had been introduce with Dr No in 1962, although in that first film Bob Simmons stood in as James Bond when he walked across the stage. While later versions of the James Bond gunbarrel sequence have used CGI effects, that first version was shot using a pinhole camera mounted inside the real barrel of a .38 calibre gun; it wasn’t until Thunderball that Sean Connery himself was seen in the gunbarrel sequence, when it was first re-shot due to the film being shot in wide screen Panavision; since then it has been re-done for each new actor.

And there it stayed – at the very beginning of the film – through George Lazenby, Sean Connery (reprising the role in Diamonds Are Forever), Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.

In fact the absence of the traditional gunbarrel in Casino Royale didn’t bother me as the film had so many positives, plus there was a kind of gunbarrel sequence in the black and white fight sequence in the pre-title sequence that definitely nodded in the direction of this James Bond tradition.

Two years later saw Quantum of Solace slated by critics and fans alike, as it missed the spot that Casino Royale had been so successful in finding. Again, many fans didn’t like the fact that there was no gunbarrel at the beginning although it did appear at the end to show that the story arc begun in Casino Royale was now complete.

This time though I think the filmmakers got it wrong.

While I probably wouldn’t have minded so much if they had got more of the film right – including the story, the shaky action shots and editing that rendered the film almost unfollowable – putting it at the end shows that they missed the point.

The real reason for having the gunbarrel sequence at the beginning of the films is simple; it produces an adrenaline rush thanks to a Pavlovian response.

“This is exciting; this is James Bond”, our conditioned reflexes are telling us.

So, there are some things I don’t mind whether they put them in Bond 23 – when they finally get around to making it – such as “Shaken, not stirred” or “Bond, James Bond”; when they’re done well I love them, but they aren’t as important as a good script.

However, whether Bond 23 turns out to be good or not – I’m hoping for good, but wouldn’t place any money on it – I’d at least want to experience that surge of adrenaline before the pre-title sequence, a ray of hope before the film really begins.

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22 Responses to “Why the James Bond gunbarrel should return in Bond 23”

  • Tony

    I totally agree, the gunbarrel is as much part of the James Bond experience, as hearing the theme tune. There was always something (when cinemas were big screen) of seeing the curtains open, the screen go black and the little white dot scroll across the screen,to say this is Bond! which is one of the reasons Never say Never again suffers.

  • Bert

    The omission of the gun-barrel sequence completely ruined the films for me. My feeling of anticipation was destroyed. I hope these new film makers will stop trying to be clever by forsaking something that works only to be replaced with their own ideas of improvement.

    This is Sclimbesserung at its zenith.

  • Mhikerock

    I agree.

    I love the clever design of gun barrel sequence in Casino Royale because it suggest (at least for me) that it is a new timeline of the story (at least it is still at the beginning before the “opening theme” like in Dr. No)

    But I hate it, when they put the gun barrel sequence at the end of Quantum of Solace. For me, it ruined the tradition.

    I am hoping that they will release a new Quantum DVD of which the Gun Barrel Sequence is at the beginning! The original GBS must be placed in the special features only.

  • Pete

    Why is there a need to have all the boxes ticked to make a good Bond film. How can 10 seconds at the begining of a film ruin the experience?

    Casino Royale was the best Bond film for years and it didn’t suffer because of no gun barrel. The only thing a Bond film needs is the Bond theme and a good score to drive it along. One of the reasons I enjoyed NSNA was because it didn’t tick the boxes. Having got a copy of it with the Bond sountrack added it’s as good as anything that was put out by EON at the time.

    I believe that moving away from the old stuff is good, it freshens things up. Flogging the same dead horse became tiresome for me. Look DAD it had everything from a Bond film in that and more, it was the biggest pile of rubbish served up since Moonraker (or most of Moore’s films).

    The New Bond films are slowly giving us the format that fans want, for one I’m really enjoying the fact I don’t know what to expect from the next film.

  • Terenc Maxwell

    Well done! Thank god someone said it. Every time bond fires at that gunbarrel Its like saying to the audince “get ready… time for me to kick some ass and take names” Bring it back!!!!!

  • James Bernheimer

    While I agree with Pete that Casino Royale is the best James Bond film and not all the “boxes need to be ticked,” to make a good Bond film, I do miss the gun barrel sequence. I agree with the author that it provides a pre-film anticipation that can’t be beat. Every time my wife and I watch a Bond film at home, I always say – “this is my favourite part,” when the gun barrel logo comes on. I hope they bring it back.

  • M

    Wow, thanks for all the comments on this.

    @Pete, I’m all in favour of them changing things as I said – the main thing is a good script and certainly agree that not all the boxes need to be ticked – in fact I’d go further and say all the boxes SHOULDN’T be ticked.

    But QOS didn’t have that and I really did miss the traditional gunbarrel. If they’d included it at the beginning I would have had a few seconds of hope. Without the gunbarrel I didn’t even get that, despite desperately wanting to like the film.

    M

  • Bobb, James Bobb

    The gun barrel is just one of those Bond things that hard-core fans are expecting, and while we don’t want the films to be predictable, there are certain things that make the expereance compleate to us. Like the use of the original theme music in stratigic spots, and gadjets that we have never contimplated before. It’s like a reward to the hard-core fan

  • Tony Nworah

    I believe that the gunbarrel sequence should come back at the beginning of every Bond movie. It is one tradition that I cannot understand why it was eschewed in CR. CR was a good movie and compensated for the lack of the sequence but putting it at the end of QOS was a big let down. I don’t understand their logic.

    All I know was that I was hugely disappointed when I did not see the sequence at the beginning of the movie. Enough of all these experiments. We’re tired of them. Bring back all those lovable idiosyncracies we have come to associate with traditional Bond movies

    1. Gun barrel sequence

    2. The Gadgets

    3. Q or R?

    4. The CAR! The CAR!

    5. The lyrics

  • M

    @Tony,

    To be honest I prefer Bond without too many gadgets – it has been way overdone since the days of Roger Moore.

    I’m not sure what you mean about the car though. 007 drives a DBS in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, my main criticisms being that they wasted the car in both.

    M

  • Marion

    I think the reason there was no gun barrell at the beginning of ‘Casino Royale’ was because Bond did’nt have his 2 kills and therefore was’nt Bond as we know him at the end of Quantum of Solace it was as if he’s gone full circle and it ended both stories to see how far he’d come. So I expect it to be at the beginning of the next Bond film whenever that gets made? Soon hopefully

  • Mel Davis

    I loved the modified gun barrel sequence introduced in Casino Royale and thought they hit upon a formula for the future. In Quantum of Solace, I would have liked to see the modified GBS come in when Bond shot Mitchell. (I know it’s too late in the film so I would have eliminated the opening car chase and started with the Palio scene. We’d look forward to how the GBS would be integrated into the film and in time would wonder why it wasn’t always done that way.

  • Pete

    @ Tony I think the main reason it was at the end of QoS and not the begining was that QoS was a follow on from CR it’s in the same time span. These films are parts 1 and 2.

    I do like the QoS (Daniel Craig) GBS as he’s the first to carry on walking after the gun shot. I dare say that will be cut out in the next film.

  • David Drummond

    I agree with many comments. They got away – just! – with re-locating the gun barrel to the end of the pre-credit sequence in Casino Royale, simply because by then we could see that ten minutes earlier Bond hadn’t really been Bond – yet!. Now he is! Thus the gun barrel indicates the start of Bond as Bond.

    In QoS the diabolical liberty of moving the logo, effectrively the Bond brand to the end was a monumental misjudgement, just one many things got wrong by Marc Forster.

  • Ian

    As Marion posted earlier,QOS was the conclusion of Casino Royale and frankly part 2 of re-imagining the Bond franchise for yet another Generation of movie-goers.
    I applaud the non-sterotypical moves these films made and I speak as a fan who has been watching these flicks as a child since the seventies and collects everything Bond/Fleming.
    Certainly the “gun-barrel” is totally iconic but in “re-imagining” and starting from “day zero” the Fleming legend is refreshed and revitalised;personally I remain a massive fan of these last two cinematic epics.

  • Raul

    Greetings Bond fans one & all! Felt like chiming in again with a comment or 2. First off, I don’t expect much agreement at all, given that my opinions pretty much run counter to the everyone else’s on here. Yes, the gun barrel sequence needs to be brought back, but that’s not the main thing they’re getting wrong (For the record, I all but HATED the last two offerings-CS & Q of S). What irks me is how they claim to be very faithful to the source material when they’re JUST NOT–the movie CR is very different from the book. I should know. It happens to be my favorite Bond book which I’ve read 20 times If I’ve read it once. As for Q of S, it’s not ANYTHING like the short story it’s based on! The movie doesn’t even explain what’s meant by Q of S–the amount of comfort in a relationship. Also they need to bring the level of violence WAY DOWN. Bond comes across like some raving homocidal maniac–very un-Fleming like indeed! Need I remind everyone Bond doesn’t enjoy killing. Fleming lets us know this in no uncertain terms at the beginning of GOLDFINGER.

  • Tony

    What makes a Bond Film?
    Bond.. James Bond wasn’t said in From Russia,
    Roger never used a wealther PPK in Moonraker
    Dr No didn’t have a pre credit teaser – obviously
    Q doesn’t appear in Live and let die!
    Casino/ Quantum – no moneypenny or Q
    If Casino was the ‘first Bond’ does that mean Judi is the first M, so why is there a picture of Bernard on the wall of the castle in TWINE behind Judi?
    When Maurice Binder came up with the genius that is the gunbarrel, he set the Bond films apart from any other spy/adventure film,
    Casino’s beginning was a nice nod, and let’s hope that the gunbarrel at the end of Quantum
    finishes the ‘introduction story’ and the gunbarrel will be back where it belongs next time. (maybe in 3D?)
    Gadgets are nice, if they belong in the story, and not pantomime like in some of Rog’s Q branch scenes, I want to see a real Bond, in some peril, faced with a proper bad guy, and Bond triumphs using wits, guile and ‘Bondness’ Oh, and the gunbarrel at the beginning – where it belongs.

  • Hunter

    The gunbarrel sequence is something I am very fond of too. It is iconic, stylish, seeming to frame each Bond, spotlight him at the beginning of each film. I didn’t take to the sequence being at the end of Quantum of Solace. However, I did like the new twist on it at the start of Casino Royale.

  • ROBERT SEMPLE

    Hi, Re. Gun Barrell logo. Yes iot is important. It isn’t a matter of moving on, or a fresh broom. If yiu shave away at the meat of the Bond films, they become just another Bourne type move, or vVin Diesel action flic. The appeal of the Bond film had always been their individuality and look and style and each departure from the format sanatises the movie. The appeal of the Bond film’s I feek has been the pure escapism and fantasy. I feel the locations were drab. Yiou wantto see locations that make you wish you were ther, Italy, Switzerland, Jamaica, just jas Fleming himself wrote. I mean,who want’s to go to Bolivia?

  • Bernard Brule

    I think the gun barrel sequence in casino royale was not necessary,’cause the shot in the washroom has been something modern so let’s be modern but I hope the dbs will return

  • Paul Kyriazi

    A good article. I never knew that had a pin hole camera mounted into a real gun. I too, need the gunbarrel sequence to get me started off on the right foot with any new Bond movie.

  • Jasper

    Where can you get hold of DVD of Never say Never Again with the original Bond soundtrack as mentioned above?

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