‘Writing’s on the Wall’ in the new Bond context

With the Nov. 6 release of Spectre comes the latest addition to the James Bond song canon with “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith. This latest install-ment is very Bondesque, bringing a
modern twist to the traditional 007 theme while still retaining the air of mystery inherent to the classic style of the films.

Smith’s commitment to retain the essence of the films accompanies his own personal flare and talent for lyricism and originality. Smith explores the character of Bond in a new way by tapping into the central romance that plays out in the film between Craig’s Bond and French actress Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann. The distinct aspects of “Writing’s on the Wall” refers to a sensitive and vulnerable side of the song’s subject, a sensitivity that is not closely associated with the suave and unbreakable character of Bond.

“How do I live? How do I breathe?

When you’re not here I’m suffocating,

I want to feel love, run through my blood.”

The chorus itself embodies an infinite vulnerability. What’s also unique to these lines is the representation of Bond as finally connecting and allowing this sensitivity to be associated with Spectre’s Bond girl with a contrast to the traditional aloofness 007 maintains towards women. This lyricism is classic Smith, offering an exploration of vulnerable characters that is intrinsic to his work.

The contrast is apparent when comparing “Writing’s on the Wall” to previous Bond themes in Sam Smith’s new video, released Oct. 4. Whereas in “Skyfall’s” video Adele chose to remain visually absent and used only excerpts from the film in series, “Writing’s on the Wall” takes a different approach. The video splits between footage of Smith in barren landscapes and footage from the actual film, creating a dynamic link between the desolate space and the isolated hero. All this works to emphasize the sense of vulnerability Spectre’s Bond radiates, a departure from the typical film portrayal of the suave, confident, invulnerable 007.

Overall, “Writing’s on the Wall” is perhaps a little more slow-paced compared to Bond themes that have come before it, but its nature appeals to a more emotional and subdued side of the character in question. Either way, love it or hate it, there’s no question Smith’s lyricism and voice is continually outstanding.

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