James Bond gun barrel sequence

James Bond gun barrel sequence

The James Bond gun barrel sequence is the traditional opening to every official (EON Productions) James Bond movie, beginning with the first film, "Dr. No", in 1962. The sequence is Maurice Binder's creation; he originally filmed it with a pin hole camera shooting down an actual .38 calibre gun's barrel [Cork, John & Scivally, Bruce (2002). "James Bond: The Legacy". Boxtree, 29.] . While retaining the same basic elements, the introductory image has evolved noticeably throughout the series. Following Binder's death in 1991, Daniel Kleinman became responsible for the sequence.


The gun barrel image sequence typically begins with a white dot scrolling across the screen, left to right, leaving a short trail of dots representing a montage of bullet holes that fade to black very shortly after they appear. On reaching the right edge of the frame, the dot becomes a gunman's view-to-a-kill, down a gun barrel, its rifling a distinctive spiral. Although suggestive of the point-of-view from a telescopic sight, the gun barrel is actually seen from inside — directly observing James Bond walking, right to left, against a white background. Aware of being observed, he quickly turns to his left and shoots the gunman; from above, the scene reddens with the gunman's spilling blood. The gun barrel dissolves to a white dot, roving side to side (though in older films this happens more randomly), most commonly settling in the screen's lower-right corner. The circle then expands to fill the screen, exposing the film's first scene, which may be an unrelated "teaser" or may directly bear on the film's main plotline.

Evolution of the sequence

Bob Simmons

The first man to portray James Bond in the gun barrel sequence was not Sean Connery, but rather Bob Simmons, Connery's stunt double — hence the hat, a time-honoured stuntman's technique for obscuring facial features. Uniquely, Simmons hops slightly as he pivots to assume the firing position.

No pre-title "teaser" sequence follows the gun barrel sequence in "Dr. No", the first film in the Bond series. Rather, the sequence segues directly into the credits. Unlike the more exotic titles of subsequent Bond entries, the titles in "Dr. No" consist mainly of a grid matrix of large-scale, bright and rapidly changing coloured circular dots, into which are introduced silhouettes of dancers — all against a black background. The colours and shapes twist in and out of each other as transparencies in time to pulsing calypso music.

Furthermore, in this first entry in the big-screen Bond canon, the white dot in "Dr. No" stops mid-screen and the credit line "Harry Saltzman & Albert R. Broccoli Present" appears across the dot. The text is wiped and the dot continues the sequence. The electronic prelude is interrupted by the gunshot, then the "James Bond Theme" plays very loudly, albeit with the first notes truncated.

The complete Bond gun barrel sequence, which would be used for all subsequent installments until "Casino Royale", was introduced with the second film, "From Russia with Love". Here, the gun barrel preceded a cold open, which in turn prefaced the credits. Some later versions of "Dr. No" were edited to include the gun barrel sequence and imitate the pre-story, credits, main story format.Fact|date=April 2008

Following the blood wash in "Dr. No," as well as in "From Russia with Love" and "Goldfinger", the dot becomes smaller and jumps to the lower right-hand corner of the frame before simply vanishing. For all subsequent films, the opening scene appears in the circle, which moves and wavers before stopping at some point at or near the middle of the screen. Except for "For Your Eyes Only" (1981), where the frame suddenly disappears to a musical cue, the circle then expands until the scene it contains fills the screen.

ean Connery

The first appearance of Sean Connery in the sequence was in "Thunderball". For this movie, the producers switched the aspect ratio to a Panavision anamorphic format, so the sequence had to be reshot. From that point forward, the actor who played Bond in the film was used in the sequence. [ [http://www.ianfleming.org/mkkbb/guide/teasers/teaser-tb.shtml A Guide to the James Bond Teasers] "Ian Fleming.org"] In the Sean Connery gun barrel ("Thunderball", "You Only Live Twice", and "Diamonds Are Forever"), Bond wobbles slightly while firing his gun as he adjusts his balance from an unstable position and he bends over to fire. Although the gunbarrel sequence in "Thunderball" was shot in colour, it is rendered in black and white for "You Only Live Twice" and "Diamonds Are Forever".

George Lazenby

During the opening of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969), the white dot stops mid-screen and the credit line "Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli present" appears, much as it did in "Dr. No". (This is the last time in the Bond series that this occurs.) The text is wiped and the dot continues the sequence. When the circle opens, James Bond is walking, but the barrel is still. When the barrel stops centre-screen, Bond is still walking to position for a half second before turning and shooting, resulting in a 'treadmill' effect. In his sequence, George Lazenby is the only Bond who kneels down to fire. Also, this is the only film where the descending blood erases Bond's image. In both this sequence and the one in "Diamonds Are Forever", prismatic splashes of light ripple slowly through the barrel as the blood comes down. Also, when Bond fires his gun, the image freezes while the blood drips.

Roger Moore

With the introduction of Roger Moore, and the reversion back to a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, a new gun barrel sequence was shot. It was used for just two films: "Live and Let Die" and "The Man with the Golden Gun". The anamorphic format was reinstated for "The Spy Who Loved Me", necessitating a fifth version; Moore is therefore the only actor to date to film the sequence twice. Moore's Bond uses both hands to fire his gun, his left hand bracing his gun arm. This rendering would feature in all Moore's subsequent films in the series.

Timothy Dalton

In "The Living Daylights" (1987), Timothy Dalton fires with only one hand, and leans towards the right of the screen. This was reused in "Licence to Kill" (1989).

Pierce Brosnan

Following Maurice Binder's death in 1991, Daniel Kleinman became the designer of the Bond opening graphics. Beginning with "GoldenEye" (1995), the barrel was computer-generated, emphasising light and shade variations in the rifling spiral as the reflected light shifts with the gun's movement. As with Dalton, Brosnan shoots one-handed but unlike the previous Bonds, he remains bolt upright as he fires, his gun arm extended straight at the camera. "Die Another Day" (2002), featured a CG bullet zooming (with a different firing sound) from Bond's gun towards the viewer and disappearing — suggesting he has shot straight in to his opponent's gun (the bullet appears to be from the "GoldenEye" credits). This sequence is a single, commemorative effect celebrating the release of the 20th James Bond film and the 40th anniversary of the film series.Fact|date=August 2007 The showing of the bullet firing directly at the audience was also used in the opening credits of the Brosnan game "". In all of Brosnan's gun-barrel appearances, the blood is noticeably darker than in previous incarnations. Brosnan filmed a second gunbarrel sequence for the theatrical trailer for "GoldenEye".

Daniel Craig

The gun barrel sequence was revised again for Daniel Craig's first portrayal of Agent 007 in "Casino Royale", released late in 2006. Unlike in previous films of the series, the gun barrel sequence does not open the film, but instead is incorporated to the ending of the pre-title sequence: Bond's first "kill" recovers and seizes his pistol to shoot Bond in the back. As the man brings his pistol up, the frame shifts instantly to the gun barrel. Bond spins around and shoots the man.

This sequence is noticeably different from the Pierce Brosnan-era computer-generated iteration. The gun barrel has 28 shiny riflings (no such gun exists), and the blood comes down not as a slow-moving cascade, but in faster falling, 3D rivulets. This is also the first gun barrel sequence without some variation of the "James Bond Theme" and also the only rendition beginning with Bond stationary and his back to the camera. Because of the tiles on the bathroom wall, Bond is not shown against a plain white background. Furthermore, this is also the only instance in the series where the audience has seen the person whom Bond shoots.

In the teaser trailer for "Casino Royale", the gun barrel sequence uses the previous elements of the Brosnan-era but features the new Bond, Daniel Craig.

The film's director, Marc Forster, and producer, Michael G. Wilson, have both stated that "Quantum of Solace" will include the traditional opening.cite news | title = Producer comments on gunbarrel sequence, Amy Winehouse possibility | work = MI6.co.uk | date = 2008-02-08 | url = http://www.mi6.co.uk/news/index.php?itemid=5911 | accessdate=2008-09-12] [cite news | title = 'Quantum of Solace' set visit: filming in Austria; Craig's next Bond moves; 007's new foes; rumors laid to rest | work = MSN | date = 2008-05-13 | url = http://movies.msn.com/movies/hitlist/05-13-08?silentchk=1& | accessdate=2008-09-12]


From "Dr. No" to "Diamonds Are Forever", the gun barrel sequences by Bob Simmons, Sean Connery, and George Lazenby feature James Bond in a business suit and trilby. For his first two films, Roger Moore's Bond continues this tradition but without the hat. The following films, beginning with "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) feature Bond in a black tie, wearing a tuxedo. Daniel Craig's James Bond is the first shown wearing a more casual ensemble and an open-necked shirt.


The sequence has traditionally featured the "James Bond Theme" with the exception of Daniel Craig's gun barrel sequence in "Casino Royale", which instead led to the film's title song by Chris Cornell. Some composers have not used the dramatic opening bars that punctuate the appearance of the white dots. Others, while retaining them, have felt free to noticeably alter the usual rendition, e.g. Michael Kamen and Éric Serra, who scored "Licence to Kill" and "GoldenEye" respectively. Kamen's orchestration was a symphonic fanfare, while Serra's arrangement is of the dramatic opening bars and the Bond chords played by synthesizer.

Other uses

The gun barrel sequence is copyrighted to EON Productions and is widely used in advertisements and merchandise. References to its circular motif regularly appear in the films' trailers, where the view moves down into the gun barrel and 007 turns and shoots. "GoldenEye"'s trailer replicates the sequence, wherein James Bond walks out and fires at the words "But you can still depend on one man" until it reads as the number "007", (leaving two Os and a 7 from the M). It was used in the release of the video game ' in a commercial asking, "Do you have what it takes to be Bond?", and showing people trying to repeat the shot, but spoiling the try. This is similar to the Japanese commercial for the release of "GoldenEye 007" for the Nintendo 64 — the game uses the gun barrel sequence in the opening titles. "Casino Royales trailer also depicts the gun barrel sequence. Also, a Wal-Mart exclusive commercial for "The World Is Not Enough" parodied the gun-barrel by replacing Bond with a man who resembled Valentin Zukovsky; he was shot at with a machine-gun before diving off-screen.

In the video games "Nightfire", "", and "From Russia with Love", the same sequence as the movies was used at the very start of the game. After the first mission of "Everything or Nothing", it is used again in the title sequence, except it does not feature the white circular dots, but Bond just walking up to the gun and firing it directly at the camera. "From Russia with Love" uses the Bob Simmons gun barrel from the film of same name.

The music videos to the songs "A View to a Kill", "The Living Daylights", "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Die Another Day" also feature some variation of the gun barrel sequence.


As with any cultural icon, the gunbarrel sequence has inspired numerous parodies and takeoffs since its first appearance in 1962. A few examples:
*In "The Simpsons" it was an opening couch gag in the episode "And Maggie Makes Three" (and later repeated with a different riff on the James Bond theme in "The Springfield Connection") with Homer as the one who shoots the unseen gunman.
*There is the parody opening of "".
*The film "From Hong Kong with Love" (released as "Bons baisers de Hong Kong" in 1975) is about the British SIS replacing James Bond, who was killed in the gun barrel sequence; notably the film features Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell, who were M and Miss Moneypenny in the official series.
*The title sequence of "The Nude Bomb", the first feature-length movie version of the "Get Smart" TV series, which was itself a spoof of the Bond genre, features Don Adams as agent Maxwell Smart aiming a gun in a profusion of circles and ultimately becoming confused by his many simultaneous appearances.
*It is parodied in the "Monty Python's Flying Circus" episode "Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror" with a pantomime horse that is followed by a high-speed chase with horses as secret agents.
*Another use is at the start of the 12th episode of the web series "Pure Pwnage".
*In 1987, the NBC sketch show "Saturday Night Live" parodied the gun barrel sequence and everything James Bond in the sketch "Bullets Aren't Cheap" a.k.a. "Tightwad 007", featuring Steve Martin (as Bond) and musical guest Sting (as Goldsting); it is on the "Best of Steve Martin" DVD.
*It was also somewhat parodied in an episode of "CSI" where the victim is seen through the killer's gun barrel, but unlike Bond, the victim does not turn around to shoot first, but gets shot himself, as a bullet suddenly appears from the gun barrel the camera is looking through.
*In the Australian series "Fast Forward", a Bond parody has 007 in the gun barrel sequence. When he turns to fire, the gun shoots him dead instead. Soon a film crew member appears and says, "All right, who's the smartarse who put real bullets in the gun?"
*When Australia's Channel Ten played the Bond films sponsored by Nissan, a promotion featured a man acting as Bond walking across the screen in the gun barrel, then getting into a Nissan which hastily drives off, before the blood falls and the Nissan logo is revealed.
*The sequence is parodied again in an episode of "Robot Chicken" with a Jewish Bond. The sequence opens normally, but the gun barrel is in the shape of the Star of David. Bond walks by normally and shoots at the gun barrel and as blood runs down the screen, Bond says, "Ah, don't get any blood on the new carpet."
*The sequence is parodied in "SpongeBob SquarePants" in the episode "Spy Buddies", with a gunbarrel and SpongeBob walking to reveal his spatula, then Patrick saying, "Hey, SpongeBob, I can see you through this straw." Also, in "Plankton!" a parody of the famous james Bond Theme was heard throughout the episode.
*The sequence is spoofed in promos for "The Bill Thompson Show"'s new set, with Thompson firing the gun with both hands.
*In American TV show "American Dad!", in the episode "Tearjerker", after a parody scene of the snowmobile chase in "A View to a Kill", Stan appears in the gun barrel. It fires twice at him and he shouts, "Ow! What the hell? Wait, you're a "gun"? I always thought you were an eyeball or something!", ending with Stan walking away and calling the unseen gunman a "douche" for shooting him.


External links

* [http://www.thegoldengun.co.uk/misc/gbdfx.html Fastrac's James Bond Page - "The Gunbarrels"]
* [http://www.archivo007.com/articulogunbarrel.htm Archivo 007: Gunbarrel] in Spanish
* [http://www.newspaperarchive.com/LandingPage.aspx?type=nlp&search=%22james%20bond%22%20%22gun%20barrel%22&
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2329325.stm Show spills Bond's secrets] , "BBC News" coverage of a museum exhibition featuring a 'walk through' gun-barrel
* [http://www.icons.org.uk/nom/nominations/james-bond-1 James Bond] "Icons - A portrait of England"
* [http://misterslimm.wordpress.com/tag/bond-james-bond-007 Bond Theme] "Wordpress.com"
* [http://archive.salon.com/ent/masterpiece/2002/07/29/bond_titles/print.html The James Bond title sequences] "Salon.com"

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