Is SKYFALL literally the darkest 007 film?

Thunderball007Thunderball007 United States
edited October 2015 in Skyfall Posts: 306
This is something that I have ruminated on since 2012. Many fans think that SKYFALL is among the darker in tone 007 films, and that might be so. However, is SKYFALL literally the darkest in the series?

What I mean, is the film's lighting, and many nighttime settings. After a bright and beautiful pre-title sequence, SKYFALL seems to become a bit dreary and gloomy. The new M16 building is a bit darkened, too. Later, starting immediately after James Bond's quip, "Brave New World," is it the longest running time to feature purely nighttime vistas in any 007 film? The dark of night finally breaks at the boat's traveling to Silva's island, with an almost over-exposed brightness (perhaps this is done on purpose? The contrasts?) Light and Dark. New and old. Themes of this film?

Finally, Act 3 is among only a few James Bond movies to have its finale (and battle with the main villain) happen in the dark of night (joining Live and Let Die, Tomorrow Never Dies, and You Only Live Twice).

I am not making a critique of this, it's just that this matter sticks out for me. I prefer the bright, colorful vistas, but the cinematography in SKYFALL is of the highest quality, and the look of the film is distinct.

What do you think of this? Are the nighttime vistas and tone of SKYFALL a purposeful artistry?
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Comments

  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython The Black Lodge
    Posts: 5,450
    Depends how you perceive it. It's a dark film, but it never goes over the edge like with LICENCE TO KILL and QUANTUM OF SOLACE, both I would regard as the most dreary films whereas SKYFALL has a lightness to it that helps make it not feel too overwhelmingly dark. Mendes said he wanted to capture the tone of the later Fleming novels which had melancholy and I thought he managed to capture that really well while making sure the film was entertaining enough without betraying the earnestness of the story.
  • Thunderball007Thunderball007 United States
    edited October 2015 Posts: 306
    Depends how you perceive it. It's a dark film, but it never goes over the edge like with LICENCE TO KILL and QUANTUM OF SOLACE, both I would regard as the most dreary films whereas SKYFALL has a lightness to it that helps make it not feel too overwhelmingly dark. Mendes said he wanted to capture the tone of the later Fleming novels which had melancholy and I thought he managed to capture that really well while making sure the film was entertaining enough without betraying the earnestness of the story.

    Oh, yes. You make grand points! I do want to clarify, that my perception of its "darkness" is strictly that of its visuals.

    There is indeed a lightness of touch to SKYFALL, as well. I immensely enjoy its humor sprinkled through out.

    "Put your back into it." :))
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython The Black Lodge
    edited October 2015 Posts: 5,450
    It's a dark looking movie, a gorgeous looking one. I like how the climax begins when it's just about to get dark outside and then that amazing illumination by the burning house when it's pitch black.

    If a Bond film had to win cinematography, it had to be this one.
  • Thunderball007Thunderball007 United States
    edited October 2015 Posts: 306
    It's a dark looking movie, a gorgeous looking one. I like how the climax begins when it's just about to get dark outside and then that amazing illumination by the burning house when it's pitch black.

    If a Bond film had to win cinematography, it had to be this one.

    I agree with you, it is amazing!

    For SKYFALL, the dark settings are beautiful. I love how the finale at SKYFALL estate feels isolated but still epic. It has a contrast of colors and coldness, with the cold breathing. :)

  • AceHoleAceHole Belgium, via Britain
    Posts: 1,725
    Not at all, I for one had no trouble seeing what was going on on screen.
  • Thunderball007Thunderball007 United States
    Posts: 306
    AceHole wrote: »
    Not at all, I for one had no trouble seeing what was going on on screen.

    I want to be clear that the "Darkness" of this film is not a flaw. It's more by design. It is still vibrant and beautiful. :)

  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython The Black Lodge
    Posts: 5,450
    AceHole wrote: »
    Not at all, I for one had no trouble seeing what was going on on screen.

    Don't watch ALIENS VS PREDATOR: REQUIEM. Then again, I don't think anyone can see anything that happens in it.
  • SirHilaryBraySirHilaryBray Scotland
    edited October 2015 Posts: 2,138
    Dreary dusky London sets the tone of the movie, Skyfall's magic is that the sets and locations reflect the overall tone of the movie, the lighting is definitely deliberate and staged. This is Phoenix story telling, and reflected the proud British resilience, and cleverly rid the wave of the commonwealth publics patriotic pride, created by the queen's golden jubilee celebration. It will always be given that tag of the "Bond comes home movie". On the other hand when they made the decision to go with the Bond back story it was always going to have dark mood, no orphan story is a happy one. Goldfinger when it comes to lighting - Auric Enterprises exteriors scenes. In some of the night shots there are times where you can't see anything but eyes.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    Licence to Kill is the darkest but it's not executed as smoothly as one would've hoped.
  • Posts: 11,425
    Good question. And after SP I was again left wondering whether Bond is best served by so many night time sequences. It's definitely a signature of the Mendes films.

    Although you'd think it would suit the espionage nature of the films, I do think Mendes overdoes it. Night time car chase and then night time climax felt repetitive for me. More daylight would have been welcome.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    Yeah, too much nighttime isn't going to be good.

    Speaking of daylight, the villain death in The Living Daylights was ironically at nighttime, and it was just anti-climatic and unimpressive. Partly because the villain had no characterization at all, but I think the sequence was just poorly done. A very unimpressive finale - the ultimate climax in TLD is definitely the Inflight Fight sequence. Poor villains is what drags The Living Daylights down - otherwise it's a fantastic movie.

    Also, why does John Glen have Bond get startled by small creatures (usually birds) in every single one of his films? lol It's repetitive and annoying.
  • SirHilaryBraySirHilaryBray Scotland
    edited October 2015 Posts: 2,138
    Getafix wrote: »
    Good question. And after SP I was again left wondering whether Bond is best served by so many night time sequences. It's definitely a signature of the Mendes films.

    Although you'd think it would suit the espionage nature of the films, I do think Mendes overdoes it. Night time car chase and then night time climax felt repetitive for me. More daylight would have been welcome.

    To turn that back around, is the QOS finale not the weakest of Dan's tenure, the boring empty hotel in the desert sun in the afternoon?
  • Posts: 11,425
    Yeah, too much nighttime isn't going to be good.

    Speaking of daylight, the villain death in The Living Daylights was ironically at nighttime, and it was just anti-climatic and unimpressive. Partly because the villain had no characterization at all, but I think the sequence was just poorly done. A very unimpressive finale - the ultimate climax in TLD is definitely the Inflight Fight sequence. Poor villains is what drags The Living Daylights down - otherwise it's a fantastic movie.

    Also, why does John Glen have Bond get startled by small creatures (usually birds) in every single one of his films? lol It's repetitive and annoying.

    Fair point about TLD. In some respects this is a weakness that SP also suffers from - too many and not effective enough villains, and too many climactic confrontations.

    I like Glen's animal scare and would be very happy to see it return in a future Bond movie!
  • AVBAVB
    Posts: 97
    Depends how you perceive it. It's a dark film, but it never goes over the edge like with LICENCE TO KILL and QUANTUM OF SOLACE, both I would regard as the most dreary films whereas SKYFALL has a lightness to it that helps make it not feel too overwhelmingly dark. Mendes said he wanted to capture the tone of the later Fleming novels which had melancholy and I thought he managed to capture that really well while making sure the film was entertaining enough without betraying the earnestness of the story.

    QoS is indeed rather dark - it fits seemlessley into the new canon as a sequel to the more sweeping and epic CR.

  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    Getafix wrote: »

    Fair point about TLD. In some respects this is a weakness that SP also suffers from - too many and not effective enough villains, and too many climactic confrontations.

    I like Glen's animal scare and would be very happy to see it return in a future Bond movie!

    1. A pity.

    2. It was effective at first, but it gets annoying if you watch those movies frequently (and plus, it doesn't have to be in every single one of his damn films, lol).

  • Posts: 11,425
    Don't worry. The SP villains are still better than in TLD I think.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited October 2015 Posts: 23,883
    When I recently watched SF in my Bondathon (after QoS) I noticed how many of the scenes were filmed in the dark. It hadn't been so apparent to me before (apart from the obvious China skyscraper fight and the finale). The dark scenes were also a little dreary (unlike QoS's comparably limited but incredibly crisp night time scenes in Bolivia).

    Yes, I think it was a conscious creative decision and I believe it was brilliantly executed in this film, and set the right mood. This is probably why Deakins went completely digital (as opposed on partial 35mm as Hotema is doing on SP).

    I think Robert Elswitt also partially used digital for MI-RN's night scenes (another incredibly well shot film imho).

    Good point about the 'light and dark' theme. I too noticed that the ride to Silva's island seemed overexposed. At the time I thought it was an amateurish error, but having read the OP's post, I also believe it could in fact have been intentional.

    No matter what one thinks of SF, it was an incredibly well filmed entry. Deakins should have received the Oscar for that film.
  • Thunderball007Thunderball007 United States
    Posts: 306
    Yeah, too much nighttime isn't going to be good.

    Speaking of daylight, the villain death in The Living Daylights was ironically at nighttime, and it was just anti-climatic and unimpressive. Partly because the villain had no characterization at all, but I think the sequence was just poorly done. A very unimpressive finale - the ultimate climax in TLD is definitely the Inflight Fight sequence. Poor villains is what drags The Living Daylights down - otherwise it's a fantastic movie.

    Also, why does John Glen have Bond get startled by small creatures (usually birds) in every single one of his films? lol It's repetitive and annoying.

    LOL! :))

    Thank you for reminding me of The Living Daylights!
  • This is something that I have ruminated on since 2012. Many fans think that SKYFALL is among the darker in tone 007 films, and that might be so. However, is SKYFALL literally the darkest in the series?

    What I mean, is the film's lighting, and many nighttime settings. After a bright and beautiful pre-title sequence, SKYFALL seems to become a bit dreary and gloomy. The new M16 building is a bit darkened, too. Later, starting immediately after James Bond's quip, "Brave New World," is it the longest running time to feature purely nighttime vistas in any 007 film? The dark of night finally breaks at the boat's traveling to Silva's island, with an almost over-exposed brightness (perhaps this is done on purpose? The contrasts?) Light and Dark. New and old. Themes of this film?

    Finally, Act 3 is among only a few James Bond movies to have its finale (and battle with the main villain) happen in the dark of night (joining Live and Let Die, Tomorrow Never Dies, and You Only Live Twice).

    I am not making a critique of this, it's just that this matter sticks out for me. I prefer the bright, colorful vistas, but the cinematography in SKYFALL is of the highest quality, and the look of the film is distinct.

    What do you think of this? Are the nighttime vistas and tone of SKYFALL a purposeful artistry?

    Excellent observation. I'd never really thought of it before, but you may well be right--SF may have the highest percentage of literally dark footage of all the Bond films. I wonder which film would come in second?

  • Thunderball007Thunderball007 United States
    edited October 2015 Posts: 306
    This is something that I have ruminated on since 2012. Many fans think that SKYFALL is among the darker in tone 007 films, and that might be so. However, is SKYFALL literally the darkest in the series?

    What I mean, is the film's lighting, and many nighttime settings. After a bright and beautiful pre-title sequence, SKYFALL seems to become a bit dreary and gloomy. The new M16 building is a bit darkened, too. Later, starting immediately after James Bond's quip, "Brave New World," is it the longest running time to feature purely nighttime vistas in any 007 film? The dark of night finally breaks at the boat's traveling to Silva's island, with an almost over-exposed brightness (perhaps this is done on purpose? The contrasts?) Light and Dark. New and old. Themes of this film?

    Finally, Act 3 is among only a few James Bond movies to have its finale (and battle with the main villain) happen in the dark of night (joining Live and Let Die, Tomorrow Never Dies, and You Only Live Twice).

    I am not making a critique of this, it's just that this matter sticks out for me. I prefer the bright, colorful vistas, but the cinematography in SKYFALL is of the highest quality, and the look of the film is distinct.

    What do you think of this? Are the nighttime vistas and tone of SKYFALL a purposeful artistry?

    Excellent observation. I'd never really thought of it before, but you may well be right--SF may have the highest percentage of literally dark footage of all the Bond films. I wonder which film would come in second?


    Ah, thank you a lot! The darkened visuals might have been on purpose, for framing of contrast in lighting and color (such as at the building in Shanghai where Bond fights Patrice). :)
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython The Black Lodge
    Posts: 5,450
    Yeah, too much nighttime isn't going to be good.

    Speaking of daylight, the villain death in The Living Daylights was ironically at nighttime, and it was just anti-climatic and unimpressive. Partly because the villain had no characterization at all, but I think the sequence was just poorly done. A very unimpressive finale - the ultimate climax in TLD is definitely the Inflight Fight sequence. Poor villains is what drags The Living Daylights down - otherwise it's a fantastic movie.

    Also, why does John Glen have Bond get startled by small creatures (usually birds) in every single one of his films? lol It's repetitive and annoying.

    On the other hand, Koslov's defection looked great at night.

    FRWL had some great sequences set at nighttime.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 23,883

    FRWL had some great sequences set at nighttime.

    Agreed. FRWL comes to mind, as does Vienna/Bratislava in TLD. GE & CR also had a good mix of night and day.
  • SirHilaryBraySirHilaryBray Scotland
    Posts: 2,138
    A lot of night time scenes in DAF.
  • A lot of night time scenes in DAF.

    The better to see the neon glitz of Las Vegas, 1971.

  • mcdonbbmcdonbb deep in the Heart of Texas
    Posts: 4,116
    MR ends in the dark of space ...can't get any literally darker than that. Not a dark film at all.
  • Posts: 1,098
    mcdonbb wrote: »
    MR ends in the dark of space ...can't get any literally darker than that. Not a dark film at all.

    ........i was going to make a smart ass comment about the dark....but u beat me to it! :)
  • mcdonbbmcdonbb deep in the Heart of Texas
    Posts: 4,116
    :D
  • DariusDarius UK
    edited October 2015 Posts: 354
    I wouldn't describe SF as "dark" per se because it ends on a high note (Bond watching over the London skyline) despite the death of M. However, I think it is the most gothic of the Bond movies to date. This comes out in the use of a house (Skyfall) as a metaphor for Bond's mind. It is inhabited by the personification of Bond's conscience (which he has long left behind) in the form of Kincaid and it features underground tunnels -- a representation of Bond's subconscious inner self.

    There are many more gothic signifiers in SF, such as a threatening mystery (Silva's anonymous attack on MI6 HQ) and an "ancestral curse" (M's past sins). However, without turning this into a an Eng. Lit. essay, the dark and brooding atmosphere that permeates the build up to the climax of the movie accentuates all of this.
  • Thunderball007Thunderball007 United States
    Posts: 306
    mcdonbb wrote: »
    MR ends in the dark of space ...can't get any literally darker than that. Not a dark film at all.

    Lol! Of course! :))
  • The genius of Skyfall is that it can be interpreted in so many different ways. Most Bond films are fairly straight-forward action/adventure films that don't lend themselves to any thematic interpretations at all. Bond meets villain, villain has dastardly master plan. Bond saves world, kills villain, kisses girl, drinks martini. Shaken, not stirred. End of story. The fact that Skyfall is made with a couple of different themes in mind, and can be interpreted according to one's own reaction to those themes, is what makes it a top flight Bond film, despite the plot holes that so many have noted.
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