Film Capture Powers the Visually Stunning SPECTRE

  • November 04, 2015
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SPECTRE kicks off with the traditional Bond-esque pre-title sequence at a massive Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico City. The film's momentum keeps rolling as James Bond embarks on a rogue mission spurred by a cryptic message from the past. Passing through Mexico City and later Rome, he uncovers the existence of a sinister organization known as SPECTRE. Daniel Craig is back for his fourth outing as 007 and Sam Mendes returns to direct his second consecutive Bond film, this time with Hoyte Van Hoytema, FSF, NSC as director of photography.

The Day Of The Dead parade is recreated in Mexico City for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions' action adventure SPECTRE. SPECTRE © 2015 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Danjaq, LLC and Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.

The filmmakers wanted to immerse Bond in a magnificent festival in a Latin American city. "And it doesn't get any bigger than Mexico City and the Day of the Dead," says Mendes.

The producers regard the pre-title Day of the Dead sequence as one of their career highlights. "Though we have worked on the James Bond films for more than 35 years, we both felt that the opening sequence to SPECTRE was something magnificent to behold, and that it sets the tone for an exceptional picture," says Michael G. Wilson, who has worked as a producer on the Bond films since the 1970s.

Director Sam Mendes on the set of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Production action adventure SPECTRE. Artist: Jonathan Olley SPECTRE © 2015 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Danjaq, LLC and Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.

Mendes says that SPECTRE recalls the classic Bond films in terms of the cars, the tone, the lighting and even the cut of 007's suit. "Also, I wanted to get back to some of that old-school glamour that you get from those fantastic, otherworldly locations. I wanted to push it to extremes."

Hoyte Van Hoytema, FSF, NSC on SPECTRE. SPECTRE © 2015 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Danjaq, LLC and Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.

When looking for a key European city, the filmmakers selected Rome, impressed by the sense of power and scale, which fits so well with Bond in general, and SPECTRE in particular. In deciding how best to capture the grandeur of the story, Mendes and Van Hoytema opted to shoot on film, including KODAK VISION3 50D Color Negative Film 5203, 250D 5207 and 500T 5219. All of the Bond films, with the exception of one, have been captured on celluloid.

"I suggested film from the start, but I think that Sam had been living with the same thought," Van Hoytema said in a recent interview with American Cinematographer. "I had the feeling that Sam really had a great interest in finding a medium that his cinematographer was comfortable with, and I have always felt his respect regarding the choice."

In the same American Cinematographer story, actor Daniel Craig also chimes in, saying, "Film is so much more beautiful than digital; it gives so many more textures and variations. I don't know very much, but the amount of work that goes into working on digital to make it look like film after the event seems like a great waste of time. Why not just shoot on film?"

Monica Bellucci on location in Rome on the set of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions' action adventure SPECTRE.

SPECTRE was shot in five main locations across the world - Mexico City, Rome, London, Morocco and Austria - in addition to sets at Pinewood Studios in London. "These five locations give you a clue as to why the movie was technically so hard to achieve," says Mendes. "And why it was so exhausting, why it took so long to shoot, and why it has taken no prisoners. But what we have is really special, I think."

SPECTRE is in theaters worldwide.