In the cinematic trailers for “Die Another Day” the director, Lee Tamahori, has used a variety of codes and conventions that convey the typical Bond genre, whilst also updating it for the 21st century. I will be discussing these codes and conventions and how they represent this genre that has become a cult in the last 40 years.
The props that appear in the trailers give the audience an indication of what the character’s personalities and film genre. All of the trailers share props showing that James Bond has cutting edge technology; objects such as computers and gadgets give the impression that he is advanced and well prepared. In the first trailer, he is seen tackling the waves on a surfboard; this image of extreme sports appeals more to a younger audience. Traditionally in a Bond movie, the silhouettes of naked women appear at the beginning, however the first trailer sees a change in this as the modernisation of “Die Another Day” transforms them into dancing in 3D. These naked props signify that James Bond is a sexual character.
The ithyphallic image of the ice gun in the first and last trailer symbolises that Bond is a cold hearted killer and the fire that blasts out represents passion, sex and danger. The loyal fans of James Bond will know that he is a cool and refined character; small objects that crop up in the trailers show this such as the cigar in his hand and the champagne glasses that add to the ice palace scene. The cigar also indicates that he is in Cuba – a tropical location.
Whilst he is there he comes across Jinx who is carrying a knife in a pouch on her bikini belt – this shows that she is feisty and can defend herself. In all 3 trailers there is a clip of Jinx pointing a gun; this shows that she is gutsy and independent. Normally a Bond girl would not be seen with a gun which means the film’s modernisation has changed the representation of women. Jinx is tougher; in trailer 3 there is a clip of her on the plane holding a sword which shows that she can handle fights – something that Bond films in the past men have only done. Because the final trailer is targeted at an American audience, part of it falsely portrays “Die Another Day” as a war film. Tanks replace the fast and stylish cars that we are familiar with. Lasers, shown in the second trailer when Jinx is tied up, illustrate the danger that Bond finds himself in and also give a futuristic ambiance. The three trailers cover all aspects of Bond’s personalities; his cool nature and sophistication, his dangerous side in the form of weapons and his romance and sexual desires represented with candles in a bedroom scene in trailer 1.
Costumes used in the Bond trailers can show characters traits and the role they play in the film. In all of the trailers, Bond is at some point wearing a tuxedo; this shows that he is classy, rich and English. This is also what we expect him to wear as he’s a secret agent with style. Jinx is seen wearing red leather which resembles sex and passion, this colour also symbolises danger; giving an insight into her feisty character. The colour of the costume can also disguise who a character really is; Miranda Frost, the woman double agent, wears a grey dress in trailer 1 which shows that we don’t know much about her and her role is vague. Bond was shown to be dark and mysterious in the second trailer when he’s sitting in the chair holding a gun to Gustav Graves by wearing all black up to his neck. Jinx is wearing a provocative bright orange bikini as the starting image of trailer 2 which raises sexual interest and makes her stand out and gleam in the sunshine. In her entrance, Jinx pays homage to Honey Rider in the first Bond film Dr No.
Her costume is a striking resemblance to what Ursula Andress wore 40 years before
“Die Another Day” was made; they both wear a white belt that holds a knife and a bikini which leaves nothing to the imagination! However Jinx is portrayed than more than just a sex object; in trailer 2 and 3 she is seen wearing an army jacket. This not only gives a fuller image of who she is but also shows more of a masculine and butch characteristic – a big contrast to when she was in that provocative bikini coming out of the sea. In the American trailer, Bond is shown at the beginning wearing rags and ripped clothes, different to the first and second trailer where the “Bond in a tux” takes priority. These rags indicate that at this point in the film he is weak, over-ruled and a victim. In the second trailer, when having a fencing fight, he is dressed all in white, which represents his purity and goodness.
The character of Zao wears extreme makeup; his face is pale, veiny and scratched with diamonds which shows his great evilness and abnormality that all Bond villains have in common. In the third trailer, the main villain, (Gustav Graves) is wearing a metal battle-suit that also controls his super-weapon – Icarus. This illustrates his out-of-control evilness and also contributes to the futuristic setting. All three trailers share the fact that Bond switches from one costume to another; a wet suit to indicate that he is athletic and will face all conditions, the next, in the most expensive suit money can buy that show he’s stylish and well-groomed.
One thing that is clear in the all the trailers is that Bond travels all around the world, from the extreme to the most intimate. In trailer 1, one of the first scenes we see is an icy landscape and the theme of this is present in the others as well. Antarctica is used as one of the main locations; this contributes to the theme of ice and is a typical Bond genre extreme setting. It also has a lot of empty space which gives a mysterious and deserted feeling.
The same shot in both trailer 1 and 2 shows a car driving towards the ice palace; this gives a futuristic feel and indicates the immensely rich villain that Bond is dealing with. The image of the bio dome is also very impressive showing the large scale of location used in a Bond film. In trailer 1 and 2, a clip of a scene set in a beautiful hotel in Havana with a stunning beach area shows that Bond relaxes in pure luxury. This is also a typical setting for Bond to meet the most attractive girl he desires and indeed he does! In trailer 2, Bond meets Gustav Graves at his fencing club in London; this also gives a sense of luxury and wealth. Also in this trailer, there is a sequence of shots involving the ocean and underwater; this gives the audience the impression that Bond is surrounded by extremes and high stakes. In trailer 2 and 3 there is a quick cut shot of a bedroom scene; this setting shows that Bond is a sexual character representing the Bond genre which involves romance. At the start of the American trailer, the sets are very dark and claustrophobic which indicates that Bond has been imprisoned and tortured thus making the audience feel uncomfortable and fearful.
At the end of this trailer, there is shot of a plane that is in serious risk of going down; this setting is extremely dramatic and tension filled. Now that the political situation has changed so radically, Bond no longer encounters villains from communist countries. Because of this modernisation, it affects the settings but London will always be a location in each film.
The stock events are what we expect to see in the Bond genre; trailer 1 was a good representation of this. It started with the naked women and the first real life scene was a car chase; this shows that Bond leads an action-packed and fast moving life. Towards the end the gun barrel sequence appears – this is a signature device used in the Bond genre which makes the film trailer identifiable. A large part of the Bond genre is action and stock events such as explosions were seen in this trailer to show that Bond is around danger, in high risk situations that will excite the viewer. The bond genre combines romance with action and adventure and so the audience will always expect to see a bedroom scene that involves James Bond and his love interest. The scene with Jinx and Bond at the Cuban hotel is a stock event; Bond romancing the girl which appears in every film shows he is a womaniser.
Many stunts are shown in all 3 trailers which illustrates that the film involves conflict and jeopardy. Another stock event is when the Bond girl finds herself in trouble which ends up in a last minute rescue; this was shown in the trailers when Jinx is tied up to build up suspense. Bond is involved in a chase in every adventure and “Die Another Day” is no exception; a car chase is shown in all three trailers which show that Bond is a man of action. The sword fight that is shown in trailers 2 and 3 is a typical 007 event where Bond has an early sparring match with the villain; this increases their hatred towards him adding more tension and drama. Bond’s technical briefing with Q in the American trailer is a stock event where Bond receives the high tech equipment for his mission. As well as bringing a little humour it shows that he is well prepared and advanced.
Whilst the stock characters in Bond films rarely change, some have been remodelled for the 21st century in “Die Another Day”. You could say that Jinx is an unconventional Bond girl; when she appears in trailers 1 and 2 she is seen punching and using weapons. However she still has that sex appeal which draws in the male audience but the director has represented Bond’s first 21st century girl much stronger and more capable than ever before. Despite the fact that the stock character of M is now a woman, she still comes across in the trailers (particularly the American one) as being in power and having authority over Bond. She also has the same opinion that he is highly gifted yet a bit too reckless.
Q, newly played by John Cleese, only appears in trailer 3 which bring comedy to the film. There is now also a false heroin which represents women in a different way from previous films; a woman on the evil side shows that females can now manipulate Bond with their sex rather than the other around. Gustav Graves, shown in trailer 2 and 3, shares the same qualities as other Bond villains; he schemes of world domination and is highly intelligent but arrogantly over-confident. In each trailer more stock characters appear, each adding something to the story. In the first trailer, no villains are shown which raises the viewer’s suspicion as to who they are.
The first trailer begins with an establishing shot which sets the scene and to represent the Bond genre, the opening is a vast landscape. All of trailers have close ups and extreme close ups of Bond; this camera range is used to enable the audience to focus on him and show that he is a deep thinker; they can also show intimacy. Long shots in trailer 1 are used to give the audience an idea about the vastness of locations and to show the full extent of battle scenes and the environment which involve a lot of action. This is also used in the American trailer in a long shot of the waves when Bond is surfing which illustrates that he is small compared to the vastness of the ocean. Medium shots are used in trailer 2 when Jinx and Bond are in the bar; this is used to focus on the interaction between them.
Combined with a point of view shot where Bond is looking through his binoculars, a long one of Jinx is used to raise sexual interest for the male audience.
This is an example of male gaze; a shot where Jinx’s entire body practically dominates the screen shows the male audience what they want to see and lower her to a sex object purely for their enjoyment. In the third trailer, a close up of Zao is used; this is to make him look intimidating and show closely the evilness on his face.
The camera angles that the director uses can show a character’s status as well as involving and inviting the viewer into the scene. Bond is shot frequently from below in the first trailer; this shows that he is a dominant and strong character as this trailer aims to portray him as being a hero. The villains are also shot from a low angle; in trailer 2 when Zao leans towards the camera it makes him look intimidating. When Jinx is tied up in trailer 3 – lasers beaming around her – she is shot from above; this indicates that at this point in the film she is vulnerable and threatened. However, the director does portray Jinx as a strong and independent character throughout the film as well. In the American trailer, a clip of Jinx holding a gun in shot from below; this indicates that she has a similar status to Bond and to make the audience aware that she is an influential main character.
The fact that she is shot from below shows that she doesn’t need Bond to look out for her and the image of her holding a gun means that she is in control. The scenery can also be shot from different angles; the ice palace in trailer 3 is seen from a low angle to make it look grand and the main focus in the film. It is also the creation of the evil villain which reinforces the fact that it is made to look over-powering and tall. When Bond is having a sword fight with Gustav Graves, there is a clip of him jumping in the air being shot from a low angle; this is to make him look stronger. In the second trailer, in a quick sharp shot of a sex scene, it is shot from a high angle where jinx is on top of Bond. Using male gaze, it focuses the audience’s attention on Jinx rather than Bond who is partially covered. However, in the first trailer when Bond is seducing Miranda Frost, the scene is shot at eye level to make it seem interment and passionate when this time Bond is on top of the woman.
No dialogue from “Die Another Day” is used in trailer 1; instead a husky, deep American voice-over provides the commentary at the start and finish. Even though James Bond is an English driven film, the typical cinematic American voice-over is what we expect to hear.
The gravely style and masculine tone attracts a female audience but keeps the men interested because it is a tradition in film trailers. The four lines at the beginning could be interpreted as sexual innuendos whilst also engaging the audience. We are lead to believe that the voice over talks about Bond; “When danger becomes a temptation…” indicates his passion for danger and the thrill he gets from risky situations – and there have been many!
The words also tie in with the ice-gun that only becomes clear when the image zooms out; “there’s a surprise around every curve” which furthermore excites the audience. In the second trailer, dialogue that is also scattered with a few sexual innuendos and clichï¿½s provides commentary. The first set of dialogue is not a traditional way of Bond introducing himself; he says in reply to Jinx “My friends call me James Bond. The final spoken words of the trailer are the all important reference to the film title; “So you live to die another day” which will interest the audience. Compared to the others, the third trailer has a lot more dialogue which gives a fuller outline to the plot and Bond genre for the American audience who may not be aware of it. It begins with a sequence of orders shouted in Korean which may interest the American audience more because of its war-like genre.
After about 30 seconds, Bond says: “Got your attention” which could be interpreted as a cinematic joke after fooling the audience that it is a Vietnam War film.
The first time we hear Bond as a voice-over he doesn’t sound like himself at all, which furthermore intrigues the viewers because it looks and sounds like a typical action film. American comedy is used in the form of Jinx’s response to Zao when she replies with:
Throughout Trailer 1, James Bond is practically always shown is bright light which portrays him as a hero and superior. The only scene that is darkly lit is when the naked women rise at the beginning which shows mystery. In trailer 2, when Jinx emerges from the water, the bright light from the sun makes the sea water sparkle causing her to stand out on screen which is purely for male gaze. There is low light when Jinx and Bond have sex in a shot in between the ice palace scene; the darkness with only moonlight shining on them creates a romantic mood. In the scene where Jinx is tied up, it is darkly lit to show that she is in danger, adding to the tension and also making the futuristic lasers show up against the background. This is followed by shots of Zao and Gustav Graves which is also shot in dark light, but is also very shadowy to give a sinister and menacing feeling. Also in trailer 2, there are a few shots of Bond in shadowy light which indicates that he has a mysterious side to his character but not in an evil way. At the beginning of the American trailer, the light is very dark and dismal which adds to the disturbing setting where Bond is captured and tortured. This is not typical Bond genre but as the trailer continues he is well lit in a heroic fashion.
In trailer 1 when we first see Bond, he is in the centre of the screen which shows that he’s a strong and dominant character and this is repeated throughout the trailer to illustrate that he is the hero. In the short time that Jinx is shown in this trailer, she is near the centre (not on the edge) which indicates that she’s the heroin but is perhaps not as powerful as Bond.
In the second trailer, there are numerous shots where Bond is central, however when he is talking to Jinx at the hotel bar they are both on the edge. This is to show their dynamic nature and that they both live on the edge because of their secret agent lifestyle. At the start, Jinx is in the centre dominating the screen with reference to Dr No’s Honey Rider to show her strong and independent character. When Bond is pulled to the side of a car by Miranda Frost it is almost as if he is being pulled to the sinister side (as she’s a double agent). He was in the centre and now he is on the edge to show that even Bond has some faults – he may be a hero but he’s not a saint. The villains are shot on the edge in this trailer.
A clear example of this is when Zao and Gustav Graves re-unite which shows they are deviant characters who are not to be trusted. About half way into it, when Zoa jumps out of a window, he is shot leaping to the far side that indicates he is evil, cunning and always on the run. In comparison with trailer 1, the composition at the start of the American trailer is very different. Bond is thrown about, he drops to the bottom of the screen and is dragged along it, rather than staying firmly in the centre; this shows he is weak and a victim. At the beginning of the trailer, there is a shot where Gustav Graves is central but as he becomes established, he is on the far side in subsequent scenes. A lot of the time Bond moves into the centre which illustrates his craftiness. This is also like the typical Bond gun-barrel sequence where he moves to the middle of the frame and shoots which is only shown in the first trailer.
Trailer 1 begins with very mysterious music that builds up wonder; it is also effective in conjunction with the voice-over because it enhances tension. When the bullet transforms into a car, the James Bond music kicks in that signifies the film. This is a remixed version that has been updated for 21st century Bond; its rock-style fast paced tempo fits well with the rapid editing and is almost techno-influenced. It is also synchronised with some action such as punching which is also effective. In the second trailer, the Bond music (also remixed and more modern) starts after Jinx says “Now there’s a mouthful” which allows the audience to be introduced to the film before any action happens. The music hardly changes; it allows the dramatic sound effects to be heard over it. Right towards the end it gets faster to increase tension and excitement and then comes to a stop over the end titles to leave the viewer wanting more. The signature tune doesn’t start until about three quarters of the way through in the American trailer. Thriller-style music is played which makes the film unknown and builds up the viewer’s interest as they don’t know much about it.
Misc-en-scene is everything the audience can see in the scene in one particular shot.
A shot’s misc-en-scene that represents an aspect of the Bond genre well is when Miranda Frost is undressing in front of Bond in a luxurious hotel room. He’s on the edge in this shot which illustrates his dynamic nature, the naked woman has her back to us which shows that Bond has been with so many women in the past so it could be anyone. The passionate atmosphere is created by candles that surround them both, yet Bond is still well lit to show importance, slowly undressing from a tuxedo to show his classiness with ice in the background to symbolise coolness. He is looking down at Frost’s body which shows he is more interested in her nakedness – this portrays women as sex objects in this provocative scene. In trailer 2 there is a shot that shows Bond talking to Jinx at a hotel in Cuba. An over the shoulder shot shows intimacy; Jinx is looking up at Bond that shows she’s smaller and less authoritative.
Props include a cigar that shows the exotic location and is also an image of authority and power. Bond’s expression in this shot is quite straight; it looks as though he’s gazing at Jinx which indicates that she will become a love interest. In a shot in the final trailer, it makes us aware of the villains because of everything we can see in the scene. This is in dark and misty light which makes them seem sinister, Gustav Graves is on the far right to make him look edgy and the weird looking Zao is looking over behind him which indicates that he’s the henchman. It is another over the shoulder shot which involves the viewer into the evil scheme-making that’s going on, plus the fact that the location is badly lit; there are few visible props which gives the impression of an unknown secret location. Everything about the shot is dark; they’re costumes are black which shows they are villains.
The editing in trailer 1 was mostly rapid; however, the build up was slow which increases anticipation and excitement. The speedy shots generally consist of action and Bond appears in nearly every one of them as he’s the main focus. As it is edited so fast, the audience has to pay attention to scenes therefore it doesn’t give the plot away. At the end, it slows down again which is effective as it leaves mystery and suspense. Trailer 2 begins with a slow motion shot that shows off Jinx’s assets by marking the moment. The editing speeds up to build tension and it jumps from different stages of the film. At the beginning of the American trailer, the editing is very flashy showing a lot of shots one after the other which gives a disoriented feeling and the quick sharp shots imply that the film is fast and dangerous.
The first most noticeable special effect created by CGI is the ice-gun in trailer 1; this shows that Bond is a cold hearted killer. The bullet fired from it – breaking the ice – transforms into a flashy car which swerves onto the screen. This symbolic image shows the fastness of Bond’s life and the risks he takes – we often say that a car can go as fast as a bullet.
There are also shots that involve explosions and stunts which show jeopardy. The ice palace in trailer 2 was also created using CGI, the use of special effects enhances its sense of wealth. The car chases are also special effects; they are to illustrate the speed and action.
Stunts such as Zao jumping through windows are also to add action and create more movement in the trailers. In the American trailer, Gustav Grave’s super-weapon sends a blaze of light through the icy landscape which shows madness and great evilness.
Film stock is a special effect on colour that creates atmosphere; the only change in film stock is in the American trailer. The picture at the beginning is grainy which adds a sense of reality making it look like surveillance footage.
Tracking is when the camera moves parallel to the subject. In trailer 1, a tracking shot is on the surfers which enhances speed and creates an exciting atmosphere. Trailers 2 and 3 both show tracking used for a car chase scene which makes it look dynamic and lively.
The graphics on the titles in trailer 1 follow the ice theme of “Die Another Day”. The 007 logo is embedded in ice; the famous gun attached to the 7 implies that the Bond genre is full of danger and the font is serif which shows James Bond’s sophistication. This breaks to reveal the film title on the ice-gun; this time it is son serif which is clear and modern that indicates the film is futuristic and updated. The frozen writing is to symbolise that Bond is cool and a cold-blooded killer. At the end of trailer 2, “Die Another Day” is red which represents danger, sex and passion. “Piers Brosnan” is in white that shows the pureness and heroism of his on-screen character. His credits in the American trailer are more techno-themed which further modernises the trailer. To finish with, pieces of broken ice morph into the title; this shows the coldness and heartlessness of the film and its characters. When the MGM logo freezes in this trailer, it is to show the re-start after the first bit. It is almost as if it starts again with a fresh twist using the theme of ice. The colour scheme of the graphics has a pattern of red, white and blue which signifies the British flag.
Diegetic sound effects include the series of gun fires at the start of trailer 1 when Bond is central; these add shock after the slow build up. The sound of blowing away the smoke from the gun at the end is quite provocative because a woman does it. In trailer 2 when Jinx comes out of the water, the diegetic sound of the sea splashing focus’s attention fully on her which adds to the sexiness. The swerves and crashing of fast cars increases the danger and tension of the trailer. The scene in trailer 3 where the glass roof breaks and the characters fall through is very dangerous and tension is raised with the loud crashing sound effect provided. All of the trailers have explosion sound effects that will excite the audience and create yet another dangerous atmosphere.
Narrative theory is the study of narratives and it can be applied to films. “Die Another Day” is a narrative film and it employs certain methods to get the story across to the audience. Vladimir Propp said that all narratives are based on 8 characters and there are 31 scenes or events. These 8 characters can be related to “Die Another Day” and the Bond genre; the hero is James Bond, Jinx acts as both the princess and the helper, the villain – Gustav Graves, M is the dispatcher and father figure, the false hero is Miranda Frost and the donor is Q who supplies Bond with the latest gadgets.
All of these stock characters are evident in the 3 cinematic trailers. The 31 functions are often quite predictable; the Bond film follows most of them such as the villain being punished at the end but some are in a different order to those stated by Propp. Tristan Todorov said that at the beginning of a narrative there is equilibrium, then something happens to disrupt it, an action or conflict is introduced to resolve it and at the end a new equilibrium is established. This is the case in “Die Another Day”, however, the start of the film isn’t all that stable but turns into the reason for resolving the evil plans of Gustav Graves. Levi Strauss said that narrative is based around conflict and he called them binary opposites. This theory of conflicts can be applied to the Bond genre; “Die Another Day” has the most obvious good versus evil opposition, East against West and week and strong amongst others.
The 3 trailers are targeted at different audiences. Trailer 1 is for all audiences; it can be shown to families because it’s not rude, there’s no dialogue to allow any sexual innuendos and the sex scene is mild and very quick. Made in Britain, this trailer is also for the 007 fans because it shows a lot of stock events and Bond looking like a hero. The second trailer targets an adult audience because of its rude content in the form of dialogue as well as using a lot of male gaze.
The third trailer is for an American audience. Because the Americans aren’t as loyal to the James Bond brand, it tricks them at the start by making “Die Another Day” seem as though it is a Vietnam war film which will grab their interest. Typical things aren’t used because they wouldn’t mean anything and also some of the codes and conventions are broken. At first, Bond is made out to be a real victim whereas the other trailers didn’t show this footage; as it continues he looks more like an action star which appeals more to an American audience. It is giving the film a fresh start; the words at the beginning – betrayed, captured and abandoned aren’t what we would normally expect to see in a Bond trailer; they’re quite harsh. It is a lot milder compared to the second trailer because the American audience aren’t very interested in all the sexual innuendos.