David Arnold was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 to discuss his work on the Casino Royale soundtrack and the new 007...

David Arnold Discusses Casino Royale
26th October 2006

BBC Radio 4 interviewed composer David Arnold this week to discuss his latest work on the upcoming James Bond film Casino Royale.

Daniel Craig's performance as Bond is reported to be hard and gritty, as apposed to suave and smooth one. Will you be reflecting the 'alpha-male' tendencies of the new Bond (Daniel Craig) in the music?

That formed the entire approach to it. Certainly Pierce Brosnan's Bond and the films he was in were much more frivolous, sometimes silly, a lot of fun and exciting, romantic and dangerous all at the same time.

But Casino Royale is an entirely different proposition. It's like, for the first time since Sean Connery, that I believe this James Bond can do the things he is doing. 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.

For me, when I watched Dan walking on the set, there's something about the way that he moves. There is a send of 'get out my way' and there's nothing that's going to stop him, in a fashion that I haven't seen since Connery walked. He had that kind of panther-like grace and '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 [in the music].

If you tried to physically describe what the music was doing, it would be two clenched fists, whereas before it might have been gently stroking something, I don't know, but masculinity and alpha-male were the two key words.

Above: Composer David Arnold returns for his fourth Bond outing with "Casino Royale"

There are tantalising hints in the track titles like "Bond Wins It All" and "The End of an Aston Martin". You are one of the few people of have seen the film. Can you tell us any secrets?

Well the special effects are very physical, so we haven't got any CGI. There's a huge section in the middle where the drama is contained around a table, where they are playing poker with huge amounts at stake. Cinematically, of course, that doesn't lend itself to great excitement, but there's such an incredible sense of tension. That amount of drama of 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! In that respect, I thought I should get back to what was great about some of the early films, the low harps and the fruity bass flutes, with everything sounding quite delicious and intriguing.

Above: Cover art for the USA release of the "Casino Royale" soundtrack.

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Tell us about the process of composing the score. Do you sit down in a room with the movie and play scenes and compose as you go along?

Well, that's basically it. You know, it's about as unglamorous as you could possibly imagine it. It's a small room, usually quite dark, you're in there by yourself. You have the picture infront of you begging you to do something for it. The exciting parts of it are a) being asked to do it, b) the terror of realising you have to do it, and then c) with the script I'll visit the set talk to the director and the actors. It's trying to come up with 'what is the music of this film going to be?', 'what is it going to sound like?', 'what is it going to feel like?'... all those nebulous ideas that have about what it could be, then have some kind of concrete form, something you can play to someone and say 'if I play you this, this is what this film is about' and 'does that make sense to you?'. You have that with the director and the producers and if everyone's OK then you get to the graft part which is then making that fit the picture which is infront of you.

Above: UK cover art for the "Casino Royale" original motion picture soundtrack CD.


You're a huge Bond fan. How important do you think the scores are to all the films?

I think they're absolutely inseparable and essential. For me, 50% of what one experiences in any film is down to the music. I think John Barry's work with the series initially set the benchmark.

How contemporary do you have to make it? How influenced are you by what is happening in the charts at the time?

It's interesting because when John Barry was doing them, he was gloriously ignoring anything that was going on. When he wrote "Diamonds Are Forever", "Sergeant Pepper" had already been made. He produced a series of absolutely timeless, gorgeous, beautiful songs.

I think it was only in the '70s , probably "Live And Let Die", and then Marvin Hamlisch's "The Spy Who Loved Me" score, did they start paying homage to whatever was popular in contemporary music at the time. I think it got to a point where, 11, 12, 13, 14 Bond songs, there was probably nothing wrong with saying 'here we are at this point in time now'. Roger Moore had safari suits and disco music alongside him. Even thought it firmly places in that time, I'm not sure that there isn't really anything to be had for saying 'let's make this absolutely timeless' and 'let's make it so it doesn't date'. Again, it's one of those odd phenomena that in two year's time there's going to be another one.

In the same way that the films reflect a certain contemporary nature in sort of political issues, no matter how slight they are, it does inform what you do. I think there are the classic approaches obviously, the "Goldfinger" model, or the 'come hither, velvet curtain, you're a dangerous stranger' kind of song as well. But, I have no problem with it being contemporary and I really don't worry whether or not 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, I write for what is I think it right for the time.

Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli (Eon Productions) and directed by Martin Campbell, CASINO ROYALE is scheduled for release on November 16, 2006 in the UK. Principal photography started on January 30th 2006, with locations in the UK, Czech Republic (Prague), Italy, and the Bahamas. It will be British actor Daniel Craig’s first outing as James Bond. He is the sixth actor to play the 007 role in the franchise.

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