BlogalongaBond: Octopussy (1983) Print
Written by Ivan Radford   
Sunday, 29 January 2012 20:26

Octopussy - main titleBlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up.

Bond walks out of an Indian casino. He tips one of the waiters. "That will keep you in curry for a few weeks," he says.

Octopussy is a weird Bond film. In between its casual racism, hollowed-out crocodile boats and islands full of scantily-clad women, there’s an almost-discernible plot. It moves from a fake Faberge egg in a rather neat auction scene (taken from Fleming’s short story) to nuclear warheads at enough speed to trick you into thinking it’s an intelligent story. The problem is that it does this via casual racism, hollowed-out crocodile boats and an island full of scantily-clad women. And, at one point, Roger Moore dressed up as a clown.

As always, the stunts are impressive, but when an ancient Roger Moore constantly sends himself up because even he realises it’s impossible to take him seriously, you’ve pretty much hit the bottom of the franchise. He used to look like a vampire feasting on young, unaware virgins. Now, Moore's Bond looks like a corpse, animated by Cubby Broccoli for his own sick amusement. In one scene, Bond is chased by an elephant. It's hard to tell them apart. Yes, Steven Berkoff’s psychotic General is wonderful and the return of Maud Adams is a welcome sight, but neither are enough to wipe out the memory of Roger Moore swinging through the trees and emitting a loud Tarzan yell.

Octopussy is big. But it’s certainly not clever.

Fortunately, just as Moonraker was rescued by the fact that it actually ends, Octopussy benefits from a typically impressive title sequence. Why single these credits out from the franchise? There are better openings to analyse (an honourable mention here to Daniel Kleinman’s recent work from Goldeneye to Casino Royale) but it’s either a Maurice Bender tribute now or a look at John Barry’s excellent score – and the music is one of the few good things I can talk about next month in A View to a Kill.

So, how can you follow Octopussy’s example and make your own iconic 007 introduction? Here’s a handy guide to designing your own Bond title sequence, written by the expert...

How to Design Your Own Bond Opening Credits

Hi, I’m Maurice Binder. You might remember me from such opening credits as Octopussy, The Spy who Loved Me and Moonraker. But I’m more than just The Guy Who Gets Women to Take Their Clothes Off. I did Charade, Dracula and loads of other cool film sequences too. But back to the naked women. You want to know how to design your own Bond opening credits? Here’s what you do...

Shoot James Bond

Octopussy - Roger Moore gun barrel sequence

After the cringe-worthy opening of Octopussy, it's only natural that you want to shoot Roger Moore before the film can start properly. Fortunately, there's a tradition that lets you try – and I invented it all the way back in 1962 for Dr. No. It’s an instantly recognisable part of the 007 franchise now, even if Bond was only recognisable from Thunderball onwards, when Sean Connery took over from stuntman Bob Simmons. (I still miss the hat.)

James Bond gun barrel poses

(Stolen from Wikipedia)

I was drawing naked women on the back of a napkin and thought “Hey! Why not film a guy walking along through the barrel of a gun?” But I couldn’t get the camera small enough. So I hit upon the idea of using a pinhole camera instead – exactly the kind of ingenuity you need to make a Bond title sequence. All that just so I could find an excuse to try and shoot Roger Moore every couple of years? It was worth it. Just make sure you don’t shove a CGI bullet over the top of it in your opening credits. That would make no sense.

Take women’s clothes off

Octopussy, Bond opening credits - naked women

I’ve been taking women’s clothes off for years. Sometimes for work. But it’s OK, because they’re usually in silhouette, which makes it artistic. Robert Brownjohn, on the other hand, who replaced me for From Russia with Love and Goldfinger, just filmed some women with their clothes off and projected the titles onto them. He said he was influenced by artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Whatever. It was basically soft-core porn. He couldn’t even get the sans-serif text in focus because they were so busy jiggling about. (More on jiggling about later.)


Octopussy, Bond opening credits - lasers

Lasers are cool. In fact, all high-tech stuff is cool. Try and be as high-tech and innovative as you can with your credits. Coloured gels, lenses, kinetic typography, cut-outs. Anything that Saul Bass has done, do that. And then add lasers. (Note: Projecting words onto women’s exposed stomach? Not cool. Shining a picture of an octopus between a woman’s legs using a laser? Now THAT’s cool.)

If in doubt, keep things cheap

Octopussy, Bond title sequence

Remember Dr. No? Those credits were all just little circular price stickers that I animated. Hi-tech lasers are important, but if you don’t have the time or the money, try to keep things low-tech**. A simple shot of a woman with some blue lighting will do. I’m currently experimenting with some glow-in-the-dark paint for the next Bond movie (I hear it may be called A View to a Kill). I’m going to cover the women in it. That will look really crap brilliant.

** (Note: By low-tech, I’m not referring to From Russia with Porn. That means YOU, Brownjohn.)

Get out your gun

Bond title sequence - guns

People think the guns are in there because it’s part of the 007 logo or it sums up the franchise in a single image (hello again, Saul Bass design principles). I just think that guns are a good, healthy message to send out to the family audiences at home. So I get the naked women to hold the guns and look sexy. It’s important to promote such values in your work. That’s why I did the credits for Sodom and Gomorrah. Well, that and the orgy.

Insert film clips

Octopussy, Bond opening credits - film clip

One thing that Brownjohn did do right (apart from the naked ladies) was to introduce film clips into the credits. In a couple of decades, you’ll probably see credits that replay the entire film at high-speed. Maybe even adverts too. But Goldfinger was one of the first title sequences to do that. It’s like an ultra-cool preview of the whole movie in less than two minutes. I’ve been integrating movie stills and clips into Bond credits ever since – especially at the beginning and end. Usually so I can squish Roger Moore’s face.

Keep in time

Octopussy, Bond opening credits title

Synchronise, synchronise, synchronise. If your images don’t match the beats of the music, they won’t make any sense. Even better, try to match your pictures to the theme song or film title. Live and Let Die? That’s easy. Skulls. The Spy Who Loved Me? Simple. Sex. We Have All The Time in the World? No-brainer. An hourglass. All Time High? Not a clue.

Still, Octopussy... Octopussy… An octopus perhaps? Maybe an octopus with LASERS? Yeah, that could work. Lasers.

Dance, women, dance!

Ask any man: there’s nothing as satisfying as ordering a bunch of women to dance semi-naked for the camera. This, for example, is a perfectly legitimate dance move:

Octopussy, Bond credits - women dancing

I know because Robert Brownjohn told me.

But if you want to get far in this Bond game, it’s not just dancing, oh no. Jumping. Trampolining. Swinging. Falling. Basically anything that involves bouncing is good. Mmmm. Bounce, ladies, bounce.

Stare at men (who aren’t naked)

Roger Moore, Octopussy opening credits

It’s good to have men in your opening credits too – we’re not sexist pigs, after all. So shove in the odd picture of Bond in your titles. He can be in silhouette if you want, but I’m a big fan of artistic sketches. Tip: Put Roger Moore in your credits enough times with his eyebrows raised and people will soon start to think he’s an old man who actively enjoys staring at young naked women. This is what is called characterisation.

One day, we may even see an entire opening credits only featuring James Bond and other men. (I bet Robert Brownjohn is quaking in his boots.)

Use the elements

Octpussy - Bond title sequence, vortex background

Water. Fire. Elements make for a cool background when you’re playing with silhouettes. Smoke does too (that’s air). If you’re not an elemental person, though, you might want to consider materials such as diamonds, or sand, or even oil. Maybe even try some CGI computery effects if the Bond film has something to do with the Internet (whatever that is). Or – and this is if you want to be really pioneering and you don’t like coloured price stickers – you can go for the fifth element, pictured above: THE TIME VORTEX. Dr. Who loves that one for his credits. In fact, everyone does. They love it so much that no-one seems to notice the blatant sexual acts going on in front of them. Boy, I do love the 80s.

Watch this video

If you can’t be bothered to read the above (why would you when there are naked women to look at?), then watch this video of every Bond credits sequence playing at the same time – and then steal every single idea in it.



 will return next month in The Spy Who Loved Me. For more BlongalongaBondness, head this way.


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