Thursday, 11 August 2011

Behind The Screen: John Barry (Not Literally, That Would Be Weird)

Any London-based film fans out there can't fail to have noticed that Somerset House, in conjunction with Film4, put on a series of outdoor screenings over the last couple of weeks of some really quite good films, the best of which was obviously Die Hard. I was there, but if you weren't, you can recreate the atmosphere by placing your face one centimetre away from this image:
Incidentally, Die Hard was introduced by Alan Rickman. Here's how my phone's camera chose to interpret his presence:
I was quite far away so I can't be sure, but it appears he's had his head replaced with a giant light bulb. These crazy actors, eh?

Anyway what went largely untrumpeted (although I did a small trump myself) were the Behind The Screen talks that were held before each screening in conjunction with BAFTA. I went along to the one about John Barry, which took place before a screening of The Spy Who Loved Me. It looked a bit like this, only with more people:
It was a mixed affair: there were a lot of film clips played in the wrong aspect ratio, the lights kept coming up and going down at random and a man on the front row hadn't grasped the role of the audience on such an occasion, which is to shut the fuck up until you are prompted to ask questions and not to join in the conversation whenever you feel like it, hum loudly while the panel are speaking or hog the mike when other people want to ask questions.

Still, when they were allowed to get on with it, the panel of three composers (none of whom I'd heard of, but I won't hold that against them) spoke knowledgeably about Barry's work. They made some good points about Thunderball's bongo riff being the ideal musical expression of the on-screen cat-and-mouse game between Bond and SPECTRE's henchpersons, the ways in which Barry based his Zulu themes on actual Zulu chants and the layers of hope and hopelessness in Midnight Cowboy's main theme.

One of the composers, Richard Jacques, also talked about the score he wrote for the James Bond video game Blood Stone, which I couldn't help but notice was more influenced by David Arnold than John Barry. It did, however, feature Derek Watkins and Maurice Murphy on trumpets, who both played on Barry's original arrangement of the James Bond theme, and that was the best bit of trivia I'd heard all day so I kept my trap shut about the David Arnold thing.

I didn't get to any other talks but would be interested to hear from anyone who did, if only to reassure myself that the technical annoyances and irritating twats weren't a feature of each event. Did you go to any? Did you have fun? Where did you sit? What were you wearing? What are you doing tonight? Fancy a drink? Let's get interactive!


  1. Went to Gremlins. All we got was a guy throwing Mogwai at us from the Cinema Store. *Humph*

    Was surprised by lack of discernible tw@ts though. *Hurrah!*

  2. I went to a few of these and the twat quotient was certainly the highest at the Barry event. You're right, the technicals were very frustrating and considering it was partnered with BAFTA, you'd think they'd have a closer eye on presentation skills. They really need to bring some decking in to make a small stage so that the audience can actually see the guests with wishing ill upon the person sat in front. That said, I hate to criticise these felt rather sweetly shambolic.

    There wasn't enough love put into prepping the clips/edit points & they crashed in and out like an excitable fangirl nibbling at the ankles of the guest speaker......oh wait, I'm confusing two incidents up now.

  3. You know you are allowed to come and say hello, Nubbins. I don't bite. Much.

  4. but be honest, there's not a lot of meat on you....