Casino Royale composer David Arnold was interviewed by Kirsty Lang on BBC Radio’s Front Row on Monday, 23 October 2006.
To listen to the entire interview, click here and select Monday under the ‘Listen Again’ menu on the right panel. Note that this interview will be kept for one week past the original air date of 23 October. The David Arnold segment starts at roughly six minutes in and lasts for about ten minutes total.
The in depth interview covers how Arnold matched his music to the masculinity of Daniel Craig’s James Bond, what is different with this score, and much more…
Kirsty Lang mentioned that Daniel Craig’s performance will be compared to Sean Connery’s as a hard and gritty James Bond. This contrasts to the suave and smooth 007 Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan are known for. She asked Arnold whether he would be reflecting the new Bond’s alpha male tendances in his score for the film.
David Arnold: That formed the entire approach to it. I mean, certainly Pierce Brosnan’s Bond and the Brosnan Bond films he was in were much more frivolous, you know, sometimes silly, a lot of fun and exciting, romantic, and dangerous all at the same time.
But this one is an entirely different proposition. It’s like, for the first time since Sean Connery, I think that I believe this James Bond can do the things he is doing.
And I think Daniel’s great strength is to bring that sense of truth and believability to a character that some might think is not worthy of that kind of attention.
He had that kind of panther-like grace. For Daniel, alpha male is absolutely the key phrase. That aspect of masculinity that Dan has and is bringing to it… I figured I had to match that masculinity.
As a physical thing, you know, if you tried to physically describe what the music was doing, it would be two clenched fists, whereas before it might have been sort of gently stroking something, I don’t know, but masculinity and alpha-maleness were the key words I think.
Lang continued by mentioning some of the ‘tantalising hints in some of the title tracks like Bond Wins It All and The End of an Aston Martin. As Arnold has seen the film in its entirety, she asked if he could reveal any of the secrets.
Arnold: We haven’t really got any CGI. There’s this huge section in the middle where the drama is contained around a table, where they are playing poker with huge amounts at stake. And, cinematically, of course, that doesn’t lend itself to great excitement, but there’s such an incredible sense of tension. That kind of drama over that amount of time, I haven’t really had chance to do before in a Bond film, because it really hasn’t gone for more than two minutes without something blowing up!
I thought that I should get back to what was great about some of the early ones, you know, the low harps and the fruity bass flutes, with everything sounding quite delicious and intriguing.
Lang continued with the process of composing the score, asking: ‘do you sit down in a room with the movie and play scenes and compose as you go along?’
Arnold: Well, that’s basically it. You know, which is about as unglamorous as you could possibly imagine. It’s a small room, usually quite dark and you’re in there by yourself. And you have the picture in front of you and it’s begging you to do something for it.
The exciting parts of it are being asked to do it, then you get the terror of sort of realising you actually have to do it, and then with the script I’ll visit the set, talk to the director and talk to the actors. All those kinds of ideas about what it could be and then have some kind of concrete form; something which you can play to someone and say: “if I played you this, then this is what this film is about” and “does that make sense to you?”
Lang also asks that with Arnold being the ‘huge Bond fan’ he is, how important are the scores to the films?
Arnold: I think they’re absolutely inseparable and essential. For me, 50% of what one experiences in any film is down to the music. And I think John Barry’s work with the series initially set the benchmark.
‘How contemporary do you have to make it? I mean, are you influenced by what is happening in the charts at the time?’
Arnold: I think it’s interesting with what John was doing them, he was sort of gloriously ignoring anything that was going on… I mean, he produced a series of absolutely timeless, gorgeous, beautiful songs.
And I think it was only in the 70s, probably Live And Let Die, and then Marvin Hamlisch’s score, which was kind of like a disco score, started becoming… paying homage to what was popular in contemporary music at the same time. I think it got to a point where, after 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 Bond songs, there was probably nothing wrong with saying “here we are at this point in time.”
The films I think reflect a certain contemporary nature in sort of political issues, no matter how slight they are, you know, it does inform what you do. I think there are the classic approaches obviously, there’s the Goldfinger model… But, I have no problem with it being contemporary and I’m not really worried if it’s going to feel OK in ten years time.
I think if it feels right for now, this is when people are going to be experiencing the music, this is when people are going to be experiencing the movie, so I write for what is I think it right for the time.
Stay tuned to CBn for all the latest news on Casino Royale.