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A View to a Kill
1991 Japan

2003 U.S.

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
John Barry

Orchestrated by:
Nic Raine

Flute Solos by:
Susan Milan

Title Song Performed by:
Duran Duran

2003 Album Produced by:
Gregg Ogorzelec

Labels and Dates:
EMI (Japan)

(February 25th, 2003)

Also See:
The Living Daylights

Audio Clips:
1991 EMI Album:

1. Main Title/A View to a Kill (0:31):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (259K)
Real Audio (161K)

4. Bond Meets Stacy (0:35):
WMA (229K)  MP3 (284K)
Real Audio (177K)

8. He's Dangerous (0:31):
WMA (209K)  MP3 (258K)
Real Audio (161K)

13. May Day Bombs Out (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The 1991 Japanese release originally sold for $30 at online soundtrack specialty stores, though copies were known to sell for as much as $100 on the open market. With the regular commercial release from EMI/Capitol in 2003, both albums' worth has equaled about $10.

  The song "A View to a Kill" was nominated for a Golden Globe.

A View to a Kill

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Buy it... if you've never given this Bond score a second chance, for it features a strong action theme, outstanding flute solos, and vibrant instrumentation.

Avoid it... on the 2003 EMI album if you already own the 1991 Japanese import, for the 2003 "remastering" adds extremely distracting levels of tape hiss.

A View to a Kill: (John Barry) For film score collectors, A View to a Kill marked the beginning of the end for the glory days of the great title songs that mirrored the style of the films' underscores. For the rest of the public, the film offered a tired and visibly aged Roger Moore in his final appearance as James Bond, reaffirming that the franchise needed a new direction despite repeatedly strong profit margins. The quality of the film was actually quite decent, compensating for Moore's age and his overly dry humor with an enticing due of villains; creep-master Christopher Walken and the always bizarre Grace Jones (wouldn't the film had been more interesting if she had sung the title song?) seek to destroy the San Francisco Bay Area while using a blimp, of all outrageous getaway vehicles, for their escape. For composer John Barry, the middle to late 1980's finished his involvement in the franchise in strong fashion. After a melodic, rich score for Octopussy, and with the quasi-retro score for A View to a Kill under his belt, Barry would end his commitment to the franchise with the remarkably entertaining score for The Living Daylights. Barry's discontent with producer Albert R. Broccoli over the title song situation would begin with A View to a Kill, however, and continue to be a problem through all the Brosnan films scored by David Arnold. The blame for the recent disconnect between song and score can be traced specifically to Duran Duran member John Taylor, who approached Broccoli directly about writing the song for A View to a Kill instead of leaving the task to Barry. To the surprise of both Taylor and Barry, Broccoli agreed. The ultimate irony in this event is that Taylor was a huge fan of Barry's work, reciting detailed information about Barry's writing that the composer himself had forgotten. As such, Barry would actually be invited to be an active part of the song's creative team, eventually arranging the segments of the song and providing instrumental direction.

The Duran Duran song would go on to rival "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me in terms of popular success. It would reach #1 on American charts and #2 in the U.K., with the soundtrack LP album placing in the top 100 on charts in both countries. The sex appeal of the song at the time was far different from the established norm of the franchise; instead of relying on melody and romance for its allure, it sold itself as a straight rock song, complete with somewhat dated electric guitar rips and an in-your-face snare as the song's primary elements. Over the years, the synthetic orchestra hits are really what date "A View to a Kill," forever stamping it with that cheesy 80's sound. If you dig below the surface of the song, though, you'll find why many Bond collectors can't seem to tear themselves from it. The song makes no overt references to the Monty Norman 007 theme, though when you hear the theme apart from Duran Duran in the underscore, you realize that the rising and falling three note motif in Norman's original theme is actually the basis for several sections of the song. Barry, proving that he probably had more influence on the song that he'd like to admit to, uses the string backing of the title performance to insert that rising and falling motif in subtle fashion. If the synth hits, Simon Le Bon's vocals, and the ludicrous lyrics deter you from the title performance of the theme (which is also reprised in shorter length for the end credits), Barry provides three major references to the theme in his score. The most widely recognized performances of the title theme in the score are from Susan Milan's flute, first in a high octave in "Bond Meets Stacey" and then in a far more seductive lower octave in "Wine with Stacey." Both cues rival some of Barry's most romantically dramatic solo usages in the 1990's, including Cry, The Beloved Country, and are, for many, the (unfortunately short) highlights of the score. Another use of the title theme's chorus sequence exists in bold brass as Bond rescues Stacey from the burning San Francisco City Hall.

Also a crucial element in A View to a Kill is Barry's revised action motif. He has often recycled these action themes through the ages, using one across nearly all of Connery's original films. One of his stronger action themes debuted in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and was rearranged for use in both A View to a Kill and The Living Daylights to great effect. Heard here in "Snow Job," "He's Dangerous," and "Golden Gate Fight," this action theme is not only effective in usual repetitive Barry structure, but is also assisted by its instrumentation. A View to a Kill would be the first Bond collaboration with orchestrator Nic Raine, with whom Barry would produce some of his best scores of the latter stages of his career. The electric guitar in the action theme for A View to a Kill is tastefully used, allowing the cues to play twenty years later without sounding considerably dated. A minor theme for the evil Zoran's blimp (or perhaps his overall deceitful plan) is less effective, though does feature an appropriately rising construct as the contraption inflates. Careful listens will reveal pieces of the title song mingling with this blimp theme as well, especially in the final fight scenes atop the Golden Gate Bridge. The filler music is decidedly darker than in many of Barry's previous scores, varying the tone better than most. The ambience of the score, with the help of Raine, is more diverse, making even the most mundane snippets of suspenseful underscore interesting at the least. One of the more odd aspects of A View to a Kill, especially considering the notes already made about the title song, is the lack of strong presence of Norman's original franchise theme. The only major performance of the 007 theme exists in the latter half of "May Day Jumps," and even here, the performance is tepid and sparse. Compared to the usage of the 007 theme in The Living Daylights and especially in David Arnold's more complex interpolations of the theme, its application within A View to a Kill is highly disappointing.

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Throughout the history of the James Bond scores on album, no single score has been neglected as badly as A View to a Kill. Despite the phenomenal success of the LP, no commercial CD was ever issued by EMI in America or Europe (likely due to legal reasons, but that's just speculation). Luckily, EMI Japan was able to release an album identical to the LP in 1991, but even this album still managed to elude American collectors who weren't interested in forking out significant cash for the product. In early 2003, EMI finally re-released all of the Bond scores through Goldeneye for rock bottom prices (any of them can be bought new for under $10) internationally, and many cases, additional music was offered. The primary reason for Bond score collectors to seek these new albums involved the remastering of the scores from source tapes. Barry's recordings typically sound good no matter how old they are --it's a trademark of his work-- and A View to a Kill featured good sound on the original EMI release. Some have reportedly stated that the Japanese product had audible distortion in several cues, though. While it is muted in places, these distortions can't be verified. The album has always sounded fine, and still does. The 2003 remastering, however, is a completely different presentation of the same score. The volume has been increased in every quarter and the treble range has been accentuated so thoroughly that the snare drum in the action sequences sounds extremely tinny. Likewise, the strings suffer from a strained sound, with the background to many of the softer cues offering a fair dose of tape hiss. This particularly hurts the two flute solos. Conversely, though, the electric guitar in the action theme is significantly clearer. Most disappointing is the continued absence of several major cues, including one of the score's signature moments; the bold use of the title theme in the fire sequence (a pun deliberately played by Barry given the lyrics of the song in that section) has always been absent from the albums, and the 2003 album does not rectify this omission. Luckily, Nic Raine recorded a version of it for the Silva Screen label on their "Bond Back in Action 2" collection (they title the cue "fanfare"). Overall, the 2003 EMI release is extremely disappointing in its unnecessary remastering and a resulting tape hiss that makes the score so tinny in the treble region that anyone accustomed to the 1991 import will be unsatisfied. Overall, the song and score are a guilty pleasure in the Bond franchise. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for Film: ****
    1991 EMI (Japanese) Album: ****
    2003 Capitol (U.S.) Album: ***
    Overall: ****

Bias Check:For John Barry reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.85 (in 27 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.48 (in 25,326 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.49 Stars
Smart Average: 3.37 Stars*
***** 220 
**** 256 
*** 196 
** 109 
* 81 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Does Barry make a refereance to THUNDERBALL
  Marcato -- 8/31/07 (7:35 a.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings (Both Albums): Total Time: 38:15

• 1. Main Title/A View to a Kill - performed by Duran Duran (3:35)
• 2. Snow Job (2:28)
• 3. May Day Jumps (2:51)
• 4. Bond Meets Stacy (Instrumental version of 'A View to a Kill') (2:30)
• 5. Pegasus' Stable (3:23)
• 6. Tibbet Gets Washed Out (1:42)
• 7. Airship to Silicon Valley (2:32)
• 8. He's Dangerous (2:16)
• 9. Bond Underwater (2:35)
• 10. Wine with Stacey (Instrumental version of 'A View to a Kill') (1:54)
• 11. Bond Escape Roller (1:24)
• 12. Destroy Silicon Valley (2:23)
• 13. May Day Bombs Out (3:01)
• 14. Golden Gate Fight (3:31)
• 15. End Titles/A View to a Kill - reprise performed by Duran Duran (2:04)

 Notes and Quotes:  

Both albums have extensive notes about the film and score, though the 1991 EMI import features those notes in Japanese.

Lyrics to the Duran Duran's song "A View to a Kill":

    (some of the lyrics are still in question; multiple sources all have different interpretations, and the lyrics that came in the original CD --which were most likely translated-- are not correct themselves. Lyrics in question appear in red.)

    Meeting you with a view to a kill
    Face to faces, secret places, feel the chill (Face to face, secret places...)

    Night fall covers me, but you know the plans I'm making
    Still oversee, could it be the whole earth opening wide? (...could it be the whole lot opening wide?)
    A sacred why
    A mystery gaping inside
    The week is why? (The weekend's why)

    Until we dance into the fire
    That fatal kiss is all we need
    Dance into the fire
    To fatal sounds of broken dreams
    Dance into the fire
    That fatal kiss is all we need
    Dance into the fire

    The choice for you is the view to a kill
    Between the shades assassination standing still (...assassinations standing still)

    First crystal tears, fallen of snowflakes on your body (The first crystal tears, fall as snowflakes on your body)
    First time in years to drench your skin with lover's rosy stain (The first time in years...)
    A chance to find the phoenix for the flame
    A chance to die

    But can we dance into the fire
    That fatal kiss is all we need
    Dance into the fire
    To fatal sounds of broken dreams
    Dance into the fire
    That fatal kiss is all we need
    Dance into the fire

    When all we see is the view to a kill

  All artwork and sound clips from A View to a Kill are Copyright © 1991, EMI (Japan), Capitol/EMI. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/26/97 and last updated 9/2/06. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.