I’m a pretty big fan of the James Bond films, as a direct result of my partner who has been obsessed with the series since he was a child. My top three are Live and Let Die (1973), Moonraker (1979), and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). I recently re-watched Skyfall (2012), the 24th in the series. Skyfall is the third of Daniel Craig’s adventures as the famous secret agent. As usual, it is filled with action, beautiful women, and some rewarding homages to previous Bond films.
I almost feel like I don’t have to provide a synopsis for this one as (don’t shoot me) most Bond films have a very similar pattern of development, just with different issues and villains. I want to use this post to discuss something else as opposed to the story (which was good, but slightly plot-holey… I’m sure it’s been discussed before) and its characters. When I re-watched Skyfall recently, I was struck dumb by how beautiful the cinematography is. This was my third time seeing the film and I had certainly thought the same thing previously. Maybe I was tired at the time, but the beauty of each shot absolutely blew me away on the third viewing.
Roger Deakins is the cinematographer, and he does a lot of work for both Sam Mendes (director of Skyfall), and the Coen brothers. If you have a look at his Wikipedia page, you’ll see that he has worked on a lot of amazing films; many of which are known for their high-achieving aesthetics. In particular, No Country for Old Men (2007) is another excellent example of Deakins’ keen eye for what can make a film beautiful.
From the very beginning of Skyfall, you notice that Deakins is a fan of symmetry. Many shots are constructed in such a way that they mirror each other; which may or may not be in reference to Bond’s ‘resurrection’ in the film. Deakins is also a fan of establishing shots that show the environment around the characters – which I love. Some reviewers thought the pauses in these moments were too lengthy, but I loved them because I was given ample time to take in the beautiful visuals of a scene.
One scene that is an example of the marvellous cinematography in this film is roughly an hour in, where Bond finally meets the film’s villain, Raoul Silva. The camera looks on from behind Bond, as Silva walks toward him in a slow, menacing way. It’s all done in one take and the slow reveal of the villain has such a good pay-off. Of course, Javier Bardem is great as Silva. But the way the shot is made almost outshines him.
So, here are some of my favourite shots from Skyfall. Since there are a lot of images, I’ve tried to mix them up a bit so that it’s not just a visual summary of the film! Let me know which ones are your favourite shots too.
I found these images here – Evan E. Richards’ website is an amazing resource for people interested in cinematography, and is the source of many high quality stills from beautiful films.
Watch the trailer here.