Watch a Montage of 50 Years of James Bond Opening Titles

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 17 2012 6:28 PM

The Evolution of the James Bond Opening Title

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For 50 years now, James Bond films have had some of the best opening title sequences in Hollywood. In fact, they’re often among the best parts of the movie. Now the great site Art of the Title has rounded them all up in this slick montage, to accompany their new article on the topic, coming tomorrow.

Watching the video, it’s clear some things will never change. Jean Luc-Godard once said that “All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl,” and the same applies to James Bond’s opening titles. (Especially if the girl comes in a nude silhouette.)

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The Bond franchise has long succeeded through this kind of nostalgic familiarity as much as through novelty, but watching the montage I was surprised by exactly how quickly and firmly the Bond movies locked into that one formula. It’s clear that the early movies were influenced by the work of the great title designer Saul Bass for ‘50s films like Vertigo. But it seems to have been only in the mid-‘90s, after movies like Se7en prompted a renaissance in title design, that the Bond movies really began to experiment with new ideas again. Hopefully the great title sequence for Skyfall, one of the all-time greats for the Bond franchise, will set an even higher standard for the installments to come.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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