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Barry and Bond

MINI ANTHIKAD CHHIBBER
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TRIBUTE John Barry with his sensuous arrangement of sounds for James Bond's films contributed greatly to its stylistic element. The composer is no more. MINI ANTHIKAD CHHIBBER

I n 1962, a movie template was born. Featuring a gentleman spy of the British Secret Service, ‘Dr. No' took our collective breath away with its heady mix of action, style, glamour and exotic locales. One could practically overdose on the eye candy in the movie. There was Sean Connery flaunting his impeccably-cut Savile Row suit, raising his eyebrow to say “Bond, James Bond,” the lovely Ursula Andress appearing out of the sea like a bronzed Venus and the stunning locations (Jamaica looked like a jewel with tropical palms and a cerulean blue sea).

Based on Ian Fleming's book of the same name, ‘Dr. No' set the formula of guns, gadgets, girls, megalomaniac villains in their outrageous lairs, wit and exotic locations for Bond movies that followed, right to the recent ‘Quantum of Solace.' Next year, the super successful franchise will complete 50 years, and over the years while actors playing Bond have changed and M has changed gender, the one constant has been the James Bond theme. John Barry, the man behind it (though Monty Norman was credited for it), passed away on January 30, of a heart attack at the age of 77.

James Bond theme

The James Bond theme, a lush arrangement with a heady mix of jazz, brass, strings and sensuality, contributed greatly to the stylistic element of the films. So while James Bond is stylish and suave, he is also dangerous and ruthless (who can forget his “That's a Smith & Wesson, you've had your six” before he shoots Dent in ‘Dr. No'?). The theme embodies all that – the smooth style mixed with a cruel coldness.

In ‘Dr. No' the theme forms an essential part of the soundscape of the film, playing during the beginning with the famous gun-barrel sequence and end credits, and when Bond makes his first appearance.

For the next Bond film, ‘From Russia With Love' (1963) Barry created an alternative signature theme. It was in ‘Goldfinger' (1964), the third James Bond film, the one many aficionados consider the definitive one, that the visuals, theme and sound came together to form an irresistible treat. Shirley Bassey lent her powerful vocals to the title song composed by Barry and with the sequence designed by Maurice Binder, the song struck gold.

Bassey went on to sing for two more James Bond films – ‘Diamonds are Forever' (1971) and ‘ Moonraker' (1979). In all Barry composed for 12 Bond films from ‘Dr. No' to ‘The Living Daylights' (1987). His collaborations with Duran Duran on ‘With a View to a Kill' (1985) (with an embarrassingly old and leery Roger Moore as Bond) and with the Norwegian pop group A-Ha on ‘The Living Daylights,' created a contemporary sound with classic notes.

Although best known for his work on James Bond films, Barry has worked on many films, musicals and television shows. He also cut several successful albums. Barry got awards aplenty including five Academy Awards for his work on ‘ Born Free,' ‘The Lion in Winter,' ‘Out of Africa' and ‘ Dances with the Wolves.'


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