Compare the first fifteen minutes of two James Bond films: “Dr No” (1962) and “Die Another Day” (2002)

James Bond films have entertained the world for over 40 years. With several actors portraying the prestigious role, Bond has sported many images over the years. However, his enviable looks, charisma and intelligence have not changed. Bond is renowned for his obsequious womanising, suave sophistication and irresistible gorgeousness. Also knows as 007, the MI6 spy travels around the world on missions, often getting distracted by beautiful women on his way. Bond films are a combination of spy, action, comedy and a little romance, making them enjoyable for an extensive audience.

Because Bond has been an influential character for nearly half a century, the films have to constantly adapt to suit a varied audience. Classic Bond has to stay for the older generation, but needs modernising to entice younger fans. This combination results in a series of successful films that appeal to all. All Bond films commence with a title sequence which reflects the films content. These play a significant part in setting the scene in the first 15 minutes and hooking the audience’s attention. Each films title sequence differs, but they all contain the “Bond aperture”.

This is where the audience can see Bond walking across the screen through the barrel of the opposition’s gun. Bond then fires his Buretta handgun down the opposition’s barrel and the screen washes over red; symbolising blood. The colours and images in the title sequence of the two films differ. Dr. No uses colours and images that are very retrospective of the 1960’s, the era that the film was made in. Bright, primary colours feature strongly, accompanied by circles, triangles and geometric patterns. There are also the black silhouettes of women dancing. Die Another Day uses contrasting colours and images to great effect.

Some parts feature fiery colours, such as red, orange and yellow. Others feature cold and icy colours, such as blue white and grey. Die Another Day also uses women’s silhouettes, but change colour from fire to ice. Other images included are water, electricity and scorpions. The screen is very busy and creates the illusion of being very confusing and distorted. Both title sequences are accompanied by music. The music in Dr. No’s title sequence has a Latin beat. The “Bond theme” plays throughout at a slow pace, before “3 blind mice” plays with a Latin beat as the title sequence ends and the first scene starts.

The Latin beat gives the first indication that the film is set in Jamaica. The music in Die Another Day’s title sequence also features the “Bond theme”, but at a fast pace. Madonna’s “Die Another Day” plays throughout. The words of the song reflect the theme of the title sequence, thus give an indication of the film itself. I find the title sequence for Die Another Day is more powerful and successful in interesting and gripping the audience. The pace is much faster and generally gives off the impression as being a quick-paced, action-packed film.

I also think colour, images and music have been used more effectively in Die Another Day, as they reflect the film to a greater extent than Dr. No. Bond films are always set in an unusual, mysterious destination. Dr. No is based in Jamaica. Although today we do not consider Jamaica a “mysterious” location, it was not as well known in the 1960’s. More has been discovered about Jamaica only in recent years. As Die Another Day was made in 2002, North Korea fits the criteria. To this day, the country is communist run and access is not permitted. These exotic locations make the films more elusive and intriguing.

As seeing these innovative places are a new experience to the audience, interest levels increase. Both films portray the location convincingly. Die Another Day is obviously more realistic as it is a modern film. Action and violence are often associated with Bond films. The level of violence contrasts immensely in the title sequences of the two films. Die Another Day’s is based mostly on violence with fighting and torture scenes. Fire and ice are used to torture James Bond, complementing the fiery and icy colours used in the title sequence.

However, Dr. No contains no action or violence in its title sequence. The action increases a little in the first fifteen minutes of Dr. No. James Bond is involved in a car chase, although it is not very exciting or fast paced. There is use of small handguns but nothing that would be classed as violence. The opening scene contains no explosions. On the other hand, Die Another Day is exciting and bursting with action, with viewers watching fast-pace hovercraft chases, explosions galore, plenty of glamorous cars, violent fighting and torture scenes.

I think that Die Another Day inevitably contains more violence than Dr. No. Within the 40 year difference between the releases of the two films, audience’s attitudes have changed towards the violence they see on screen. Things that were frowned upon 40 years ago have become commonplace in film today, making it more acceptable for filmmakers to include a greater level of violence. Dr. No lacks realisticness, which I think is down to the technology not being as advanced in the 1960’s. With action and violence come gadgets, weapons and futuristic technology. This is probably the most dramatic contrast between the first Bond film and the latest instalment.

Guns are used in both films, but on a much bigger scale in Die Another Day. In Dr. No, 007 was armed with only his small Buretta handgun. In Die Another Day however, he was aided by machine guns and tanks. The same can be said for the use of technology in the two films. In Dr. No, the only technology used was basic radio equipment, where as Die Another Day showcases pioneering kit such as a knife that converts into a satellite camera, a watch capable of shattering glass and a transmitter. The two films also contrast in their use of special effects and stunts.

Dr. No has quite poor special effects. The only action is the car chase, which doesn’t look very realistic. There are not any stunts, but none are needed as there is no real action where stunts would be needed. Die Another Day, however, has realistic special effects and stunts. They are needed more that Dr. No as there is a lot more action. The same can be said for sound effects. Dr. No contains limited sound effects, where as Die Another Day has a range for the various special effects. The music in both films reflects the pace in the opening scenes.

Dr. No uses slow paced music with a Latin beat, which sounds rather relaxing, not at all expected of an action film. Die Another Day uses music to a greater effect, with the fast pace creating a greater sense of action and danger. In both films, Bond gives the impression of being a sycophantic womaniser. He is smarmy, yet loveable. James Bond interests the audience as there is always an element of unpredictability and surprise in his character. This is one of the only aspects of the films that have stayed the same. The audience are always guaranteed that Bond’s personality will not change.

He is obviously very intelligent, handsome and charismatic, as well as being very lucky; often escaping near death situations. The enemy, however, gives off different impressions inn the two films. Dr. No gives the audience a vague idea of who the villains are, where as it is blatant in Die Another Day. The more recent film’s villains appear more threatening and dangerous. This impression of danger is mainly formed on the amount of violence and weapons used. Dr. No only uses a small handgun, while Die Another Day uses more intimidating weapons and explosions.

Having closely comparing the first fifteen minutes of both Bond films, I find Die Another Day’s opening more effective. It uses devices such as music, action and gadgets to greater effect. I think the makers of Die Another Day are much more successful at creating a powerful and intriguing opening, with a great deal more action. I think this film also is very clever in hooking the audience’s attention and generating interest. I feel Dr. No could be improved by speeding up the pace, to create the illusion of being very action packed. I think this would improve the film vastly.