Thursday, March 8, 2012

March Madness March of the Day: "Space March" from You Only Live Twice by John Barry

'Rocket. I'm taking a rocket. I'm packing my suitcase. Hey, look out, moon!'
"Space March," which perfectly captures both the mystique and danger of space and is introduced in the You Only Live Twice score cue "Capsule in Space," is one of the best themes written by the late John Barry for the 007 films. Too bad "Space March" originated from a 007 installment that's full of nonsensical plot holes and is often as listless as the constantly bored look on the face of Sean Connery as the least convincing white-guy-disguised-as-a-Japanese-guy ever. Connery became increasingly tired of the Bond franchise and the media circus surrounding it, and his misery is evident on his face during You Only Live Twice, which was loosely adapted from Ian Fleming's novel of the same name by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author Roald Dahl, but you wouldn't have been able to tell Dahl worked on it because of the formulaic and lazily (re?-)written end result.

Later 007 installments like The Living Daylights and the 2006 Casino Royale make You Only Live Twice look as exciting as a bingo game. These 007 films got less interesting the further they drifted from their spy thriller roots and became more about spectacle (although that volcano lair, invaded by a ninja army in the film's most badass shot, is vintage Bond set design at its most imaginative).

But as usual, Barry's gorgeous score is a saving grace, particularly during "Space March" and the love theme "Mountains and Sunsets" (Barry captured Japanese sounds--or as most white soundtrack album reviewers prefer to say because their descriptions of us Asian people or Asian things are frozen in 1962, "Oriental sounds"--more skillfully than most non-Japanese film and TV composers). The score helps keep You Only Live Twice from dying on-screen.

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