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Sam Mendes explains the opening shot to 'SPECTRE'

07-Aug-2016 • Spectre (2015)

Filling the shoes of the Coen brothers' favoured cinematographer, Roger Deakins, was not an easy task for Sam Mendes. After asking a number of filmmakers, including Christopher Nolan, about Hollywood newcomer Hoyte van Hoytema, Mendes settled on the 'Interstella' cinematographer for 'SPECTRE.' Togehter with van Hoytema, Mendes created a fantastic opening sequence.

In an interview with American Cinematographer, Mendes explains the thinking behind this sustained four minute shot, and how the filmmaking technique contributed to the story he was telling.

"I wanted to drop us into Bond’s shoes. The single take says to the audience: ‘This is happening in real time. That’s Bond; you’re going to travel with him; he’s going to be your journey through this section of the movie, so settle in. Just watch and concentrate; we’re not letting you off the hook; see how far you can go with us. By the time you get to the end of this shot, you’re in.’ And I love that feeling. That’s what Altman did brilliantly at the beginning of The Player, and, of course, Orson Welles at the beginning of Touch of Evil.

"Everyone kind of knows that the first 10 minutes of a Bond movie are going to be some kind of action, that there’s going to be a big sequence of some sort. So, in a way, it gives you freedom to be a little bit more daring. In this case, it’s not about planes, trains and automobiles, but first-person action in a very rich, fantastic atmosphere.

[...]

"At one time, I wanted the whole first 10 minutes to be one shot, but then I decided that would be self-serving, a bit of a showoff. And, in fact, it was better for dramatic reasons to go into more conventional storytelling and start cutting. That’s not to say that the cutting section is in any way easier; when you go into more conventional filmmaking, it’s much, much more time-consuming."

Read the complete interview, where Mendes talks choosing van Hoytema and shooting on 35mm at theasc.com


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