SPECTRE's reuse of the SKYFALL cues: The Good, the Bad, and the Inexplicable.

MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Crab Key
in Music Posts: 1,220
This is something I wanted to delve in further. With exceptions, unlike a lot of franchise films such as Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY, the James Bond films have never really been known for reusing cues from past films, whether they were simply the old recordings (Bond searching for Honey in DR. NO, reused in the FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE boat climax) or new recordings for optimization regarding tempo/mood ("Snow Business" for the final scene in DIE ANOTHER DAY). The most famous exception is the 1962 recording of the Bond Theme used in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, THUNDERBALL (US release version), YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, and ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. These were decisions made by the editors/producers rather than John Barry. In fact, here's a clip I upoloaded on how part of the climax for OHMSS would have sounded had Peter Hunt not opted to use the DR. NO recording.






Then comes SKYFALL. Rather than creating a new take on the Bond theme, it was decided that David Arnold's arrangement would be rerecorded. I haven't actually read into why that decision was made, but I've often read from fans who perceived that decision as either Newman being too lazy, having too much contempt for the "Bond sound" to do his own take, EON wanting to use Arnold's arrangement to feel more closely tied with CR and QOS for continuity sake, etc. I'd actually love to hear an official statement on that, and if someone can provide that place shoot it right here!

But onto SPECTRE, which furthers the reusing of previous music with the SKYFALL cues. Some I can identify by ear as newly recorded in order to fit the pacing of the scene ("Backfire"), while some sound like they were just tracking the scene with a cue recorded for specifically SKYFALL "Someone Usually Dies". Personally I think a lot of the talk about how much the SKYFALL cues made it into the 24th film is exagerratd. The SPECTRE soundtrack isn't "mostly" SKYFALL cues, there's plenty of brand new ones whether it's in the official soundtrack or left in the film itself (such as the bit of music that plays right before Bond spots Hinx in the Hoffler Klinik). But there certainly are plenty of uses of the previous music, some I actually feel was used effectively thematically.

The cues I liked hearing again? The reprisal of "Close Shave" for Moneypenny's first appearance. "Mother" brought back for M's brief video cameo. The introduction of "Brave New World" when Bond is introduced to 009's Aston Martin by Q. The "Skyfall" cue when Bond curiously at the mysterious figure that is Blofeld at the funeral. Thematically, these all make sense to me and I'm not at all bothered. I think it's actually neat for a Bond film to give certain characters their own theme that reprise from film to film, which has never been done in the past. But I can understand a preference for a Bond score to be totally original.

It's reuse of cues like "Someone Usually Dies" during the Nine Eyes vote that I find more questionable. Certainly that scene could have used a newly written piece. Maybe the filmmakers just loved the music from the Oscar nominated score that much to bring them back.

So who's to blame? People point to Newman a lot, but I'm not so sure if that's all on him. My suspicion is that during the workprint process the filmmakers had become accustomed to scenes accompanied by the SKYFALL temp tracks so much that they decided the final cut would reuse that music instead of just creating new material. Temp tracks aren't a new thing of course. If you have access to the workprint of THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, you can hear temp tracks from OCTOPUSSY and A VIEW TO A KILL for sections that Barry had yet to work on. Or was the reuse of cues a decision made much earlier before production started, in an effort to give musical continuity between SKYFALL and SPECTRE? There's an Empire interview from 2014 with John Logan explaining how themes and characters introduced in SKYFALL would be further explored. I wonder if the music was factoring in on that.

Anyway, those are my ramblings over the soundtrack of SPECTRE. What do you think of the reuse of cues? I know many detest it, but would be even more interested in hearing from those that defend it, even for the inexplicable like "Someone Usually Dies".
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Comments

  • w2bondw2bond is indeed a very rare breed
    Posts: 2,008
    My suspicion is that during the workprint process the filmmakers had become accustomed to scenes accompanied by the SKYFALL temp tracks so much that they decided the final cut would reuse that music instead of just creating new material. Temp tracks aren't a new thing of course. If you have access to the workprint of THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, you can hear temp tracks from OCTOPUSSY and A VIEW TO A KILL for sections that Barry had yet to work on.

    That shouldn't be an excuse for them to become lazy.

    Using a recent example, aside from a few cues especially Vesper's theme, Arnold composed a mostly original score for QOS (I would argue that it's his best) and that is a direct sequel to Casino Royale. Spectre weakly tying in the previous three films is no excuse to copy and paste parts of the soundtrack. Barry and Arnold did it too but not so blatantly. Imagine hearing the "He's Dangerous" sountrack in the ice chase in TLD - That's how Newman's score feels, except that Newman's score sounds like filler material. The worst example is the final 30 mins of SPECTRE where he basically recycles the same notes over and over and over and over again. And not a particularly memorable sound either. Sounds like a 'mass produced' American procedural score.

    The other thing is I can't remember any of the track listings you listed. I can easily remember "Bobsled Chase", "Backseat driver", "Chase Bomb Theme", etc etc, heck even the not very original "Vesper" theme.

    Not only that, but the action of the film isn't very exciting to begin with so having a bad reused soundtrack just compounds the problem. A View To a Kill is a pretty tired film, but at least Barry's soundtrack makes the action thrilling. Same with Diamonds Are Forever
  • MurdockMurdock Mr. 2000
    Posts: 15,866
    Spectre use of Skyfall tracks was annoying. It took me out of the movie every time I heard a reused track. Like when in the PTS Bond shoots the explosive briefcase and the building comes down, It plays the exact same music as Silva's escape from the MI6 bunker. It just killed the immersion because I kept saying to myself. "Hey that was a track directly lifted from Skyfall..." I said that too many times watching SP.


  • NS_writingsNS_writings Buenos Aires
    Posts: 544
    I think the "Voluntary Retirement" bars fitted for M's video. Not very much about "Eternal City" reusing "Brave New World", I would have preferred a "Writing's on The Wall" instrumental with an aereal establishing shot of the Rome skyline, as in TWINE with Azerbaijan.

    The rest of the soundtrack was quite cool, IMO. "End Titles", "Madeleine", "Out of Bullets", "L'Americain" are among my favourite tracks of all time in Bond history.
  • Posts: 1,554
    When bond takes the ring and kills sciarra the same bond theme is used during the bike chase with Patrice.
  • Posts: 3,677
    Blast, I hadn't even noticed Someone Usually Dies is reused. Add another to the list Igor!
  • edited July 7 Posts: 11,906
    The amount of reuse in SP took me out of the film when watching it at the cinema. It's OK with a few inclusions of various themes, but with SP I was wondering if they'd actually just made some filler tracks to go with previously used and potentially unused tracks and cues from SF. It didn't help that I absolutely hated SP as a film either (still do, and I like it even less now).

    Nor did I like the SF score for that matter.
  • edited July 7 Posts: 3,677
    I think reusing a theme for a character, like M's retirement theme, is fine when she pops up again in SP. I hadn't particularly in SF thought that Close Shave was Moneypenny's theme, but I guess it works ok again here.

    I don't get the link between using Grand Bazaar in SF as an action theme and then reusing some of it for the Helicopter Fight in SP. It doesn't bug me hearing it in the movie, but it makes no thematic sense. Then it gets reused again in the second half of Backfire. Then it gets reused yet again in the torture scene escape.

    There's Quartermaster reuse in the Chasing Sciarra scene. Don't get that one either.

    As noted above, Eternal City reuses Brave New World. I hadn't much noticed that as it is reworked a bit. But he does then copy in his Skyfall later in the same track for the funeral. Reusing music for the funeral I guess is supposed to link the scene to Bond's past, because Blofeld is lurking. The Mr White scene reuses Skyfall a second time.

    When we get to Safe House, Newman then uses The Moors liberally through 5 tracks. I don't get this cue as being Bond's recurring action or tension theme. The Moors really is fine in SF for 2 minutes. But the same bit looped for 20 in SP is too repetitive.

    For the sake of balance I do like a fair few of the fresh SP tracks - Los Muertos, Snow Plane, the first 2/3s of Backfire, Donna Lucia, Hinx, and I've warmed to Silver Wraith. So its not all bad.
  • MalloryMallory Are you ready to get back to work?
    Posts: 702
    Just as an aside, looks like David Newman (Tom’s brother) will be conducting the upcoming Skyfall Live.

    https://www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/events/2019/skyfall-in-concert/
  • mattjoesmattjoes I don't even have a caption for this nonsense
    Posts: 3,586
    vzok wrote: »
    I think reusing a theme for a character, like M's retirement theme, is fine when she pops up again in SP. I hadn't particularly in SF thought that Close Shave was Moneypenny's theme, but I guess it works ok again here.
    I agree with this.

    I think the reused music works well in Spectre. It serves the onscreen action. That said, with Bond films, I'm accostumed to having greater musical variety from one score to the next, so I don't really agree with the decision they made to reuse music from Skyfall, with the exception of those moments where there was thematic justification for reprising a theme. If this was a sequel to another film, I might have been more accepting of the reuse of music. It's not something inherently problematic.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 17,240
    The reusing of cues from SF in SP is a heavily exaggerated phenomenon IMO. It's there all right, but I'm neither troubled by that too much nor do I think it happens that often.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Crab Key
    edited July 7 Posts: 1,220
    mattjoes wrote: »
    vzok wrote: »
    I think reusing a theme for a character, like M's retirement theme, is fine when she pops up again in SP. I hadn't particularly in SF thought that Close Shave was Moneypenny's theme, but I guess it works ok again here.
    I agree with this.

    I think the reused music works well in Spectre. It serves the onscreen action. That said, with Bond films, I'm accostumed to having greater musical variety from one score to the next, so I don't really agree with the decision they made to reuse music from Skyfall, with the exception of those moments where there was thematic justification for reprising a theme. If this was a sequel to another film, I might have been more accepting of the reuse of music. It's not something inherently problematic.

    Agreed. I thought it worked in the sense of continuity between films that I would have liked reprises of certain cues like a subtle nod to Vesper when Bond sees an archive tape.
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    The reusing of cues from SF in SP is a heavily exaggerated phenomenon IMO. It's there all right, but I'm neither troubled by that too much nor do I think it happens that often.

    Like I said earlier, because this was such a rarity in Bond film soundtracks I think it stuck out a lot more for some to the point of annoyance. I mostly think of it as an interesting choice when done thematically like with the “Skyfall” coming to represent Bond’s past creeping back in his life. Thus I understand when something questionable like “Someone Usually Dies” is tracked for a completely different scene from where it originally played in SF.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    edited July 7 Posts: 3,479
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    The reusing of cues from SF in SP is a heavily exaggerated phenomenon IMO. It's there all right, but I'm neither troubled by that too much nor do I think it happens that often.

    I haven't clocked it that much but I think the most egregious reuse is in the PTS--I mean, if you're going to have all new material the PTS is the place! Various Bond films have reused various themes but usually not until the third act or so...

    I was lucky enough to see a rough cut of AVTAK in 1985 and all of the temp music was from OP, which makes sense. Of course the Maestro then proceeded to write all new music!
  • ggl007ggl007 www.archivo007.com Spain, España
    Posts: 2,277
    From 01:01 to 01:14. Does this part come from another soundtrack or film?

  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Posts: 2,684
    Nope, it was written specifically for Skyfall
  • ggl007ggl007 www.archivo007.com Spain, España
    Posts: 2,277
    Walecs wrote: »
    Nope, it was written specifically for Skyfall

    It's different from the rest of the track and sounds familiar, but I don't know why...
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Crab Key
    Posts: 1,220
    As far as I know, there's no tracked music in SF.

    On that very same clip though was what I thought was Newman's only other attempt to splice in Adele's song in the soundtrack. It happens right after Moneypenny says "he's uncoupling the cars" and before the Bond theme plays.
  • Posts: 3,677
    As far as I know, there's no tracked music in SF.

    The music playing as M looks at the coffins is I think exactly the same as for her final scene. The music for the casino fight is tracked from later in the film, I think it’s called Granborough Road, as Silva escapes through the tube.

  • CASINOROYALECASINOROYALE Somewhere hot
    Posts: 1,003
    Can’t say I expected much from Mendes regarding the film score.

    Thomas Newman had one GREAT track and that was Komodo Dragon.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Crab Key
    Posts: 1,220
    vzok wrote: »
    As far as I know, there's no tracked music in SF.

    The music playing as M looks at the coffins is I think exactly the same as for her final scene. The music for the casino fight is tracked from later in the film, I think it’s called Granborough Road, as Silva escapes through the tube.

    I meant not tracked from a different film. For example, the intro to “Backfire” first appeared in the PTS of SPECTRE, while the music from DR. NO was tracked in FRWL.
  • RemingtonRemington I'll do anything for a woman with a knife.
    Posts: 1,454
    Can’t say I expected much from Mendes regarding the film score.

    Thomas Newman had one GREAT track and that was Komodo Dragon.

    Agreed. He had his moments throughout both films but that was definitely the highlight.
  • CASINOROYALECASINOROYALE Somewhere hot
    Posts: 1,003
    Remington wrote: »
    Can’t say I expected much from Mendes regarding the film score.

    Thomas Newman had one GREAT track and that was Komodo Dragon.

    Agreed. He had his moments throughout both films but that was definitely the highlight.


    Definitely in the top 5. It’s almost haunting but very badass.
  • matt_umatt_u better known as Mr. Roark
    Posts: 1,427
    Since SP is an ideal counterpart of a two part tale defined by the theme of "the value of legacy and tradition" as a capital element that makes Bond unique I think the reuse of some SF material by Newman felt just right. An obvious choice, perhaps.
  • Posts: 3,677
    I think it would have worked better if Newman had reworked the recycled SF themes rather than sticking so close to their original arrangements.
  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Posts: 2,684
    vzok wrote: »
    I think it would have worked better if Newman had reworked the recycled SF themes rather than sticking so close to their original arrangements.

    That's my main problem with it. Williams uses leit motifs all the time but he reworks them into the score. Newman's tracks are not even motifs to begin with, they're mood pieces, and that makes them harder to rework. And, as you said, the themes in SPECTRE are very close to their original arrangements in SPECTRE (some of them I don't even think were re-recorded).
  • MurdockMurdock Mr. 2000
    edited July 9 Posts: 15,866
    Walecs wrote: »
    (some of them I don't even think were re-recorded).

    That's because they weren't. It's been confirmed that Spectre was temp tracked using Skyfall's score and the filmmakers were happy enough with it they decided to just reuse
    tracks from Skyfall.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Crab Key
    edited July 9 Posts: 1,220
    Murdock wrote: »
    Walecs wrote: »
    (some of them I don't even think were re-recorded).

    That's because they weren't. It's been confirmed that Spectre was temp tracked using Skyfall's score and the filmmakers were happy enough with it they decided to just reuse
    tracks from Skyfall.

    All tracks? Where was this confirmed?
  • MurdockMurdock Mr. 2000
    Posts: 15,866
    Murdock wrote: »
    Walecs wrote: »
    (some of them I don't even think were re-recorded).

    That's because they weren't. It's been confirmed that Spectre was temp tracked using Skyfall's score and the filmmakers were happy enough with it they decided to just reuse
    tracks from Skyfall.

    All tracks? Where was this confirmed?
    I don't know if all tracks were but It was confirmed by someone working in the music department for Spectre. There was an article about from a few years back. I'd have to some digging to find it.
  • TripAcesTripAces Universal Exports
    Posts: 3,248
    1. Newman didn't rerecord anything from SF to put into SP.
    2. Mendes took SF tracks and used them in SP. His call 100%. Not sure I agreed with the idea. But it is what it is.
    3. It is not the first time that a director has taken his or her composer's previous work and used it. See "The Virgin Suicides" (directed by Sophia Coppola, scored by Air, with previously released tracks) and "The Vietnam War" (directed by Ken Burns, scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, with previously released tracks from all three of their Fincher films).
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Crab Key
    Posts: 1,220
    Some of the cues sound subtly different from what was used in SF though, unless Mendes used alternate cues from the SF sessions? The last portion of “Backfire” doesn’t sound exactly the same as it was in SF.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 3,762
    Some of the cues sound subtly different from what was used in SF though, unless Mendes used alternate cues from the SF sessions? The last portion of “Backfire” doesn’t sound exactly the same as it was in SF.

    They likely added elements to it to make sure it fit with the new material present in the rest of the cue. The sound mix could also have been adjusted, giving focus on different instruments despite the source cues being the same. It's amazing how even the smallest adjustments can completely change the sound of a cue. I actually prefer how some of Newman's motifs sounded in Spectre. They were more muscular.

    Zimmer did a lot of this kind of thing on the Pirates' movies.
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