February 24, 2013 marked the 85th annual Academy Awards, cinema’s supreme awards gala. With the likes of Argo, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, among countless other illustrious titles in contention for the most coveted honors in film, the night was poised to define the next staples of film history. Hosted by Seth McFarlane, the ABC broadcast attracted more than forty million viewers in the United States alone. The prestigious celebration was amplified by honoring the longest running film franchise in history, the James Bond movies.
Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron enlisted Prologue to create a tribute montage for the 007 films, three sequences highlighting Hollywood’s most acclaimed Musicals of the 21st century, an In Memoriam segment, and the Best Picture montages. This is the eleventh Academy Awards telecast Prologue has had the honor of contributing to.
Ian Fleming created the James Bond character in 1953, featuring the MI-6 agent in a dozen novels and two short story compilations. Nine years later, the film franchise launched with Dr. No, starring Sean Connery as the first 007. Since then, twenty-six Bond pictures have been released, with seven different actors in the lead role, grossing more than five billion dollars at the worldwide box office. For the 50th anniversary of the icon, our goal was to encapsulate the essence of Bond through the generations, paying homage to the storied history of the franchise. This presented Prologue with a substantial editorial challenge, condensing fifty years of material in a two-minute montage. After weeks of meticulous examination, we selected the scenes that would be involved in the edit. Cognizant that we would be transitioning between decades, Maurice Binder, the title designer of Dr. No, inspired much of the visual language of the piece. Binder’s signature title sequence, for which he originated the gun barrel sequence, combines modernist, abstract geometric patterns with human silhouettes, juxtaposed with the main credits. Prologue commemorated this legendary design by implementing these devices in the tribute, functioning as tools that serviced the melding of the 007 anthology.
With the film Les Miserables nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, the AMPAS capitalized on the success of the hit musical by celebrating the genre with three live numbers during the telecast. The performances were inspired by three of the most recognized musicals of the past twenty years, 2002’s Best Picture winner Chicago, two-time Oscar winner Dreamgirls, and Les Miserables, which would go on to win three golden statues. Prologue inaugurated each of the routines by devising three sequences that abridge the respective films, highlighting the personalities, zest and elegance that propelled each project to critical and commercial acclaim.
During the telecast, with paramount respect, the Academy memorializes those that have passed on in the recent year. For the In Memoriam sequence, to celebrate the individual and their accomplished work, we composited a still picture, adjoined with a clip of the respective artist. The clips were selected to present the talent in their element, or to exhibit a piece of their renowned work. We designed the introductory graphic to the sequence, and the elegant typography layered throughout.
For the 85th Academy Awards, The AMPAS nominated nine films for the industries highest honor, the Oscar for Best Picture. In a nip and tuck race, the nominated films covered an array of histories, genres and themes. Throughout the evening, each film is comprised in a 45 second edit, familiarizing the audience with the nominees. Our approach to these sequences was to embellish each story through a coinciding voiceover of dialogue from the film that would complement the accompanying visuals, and through critical scenes from the picture. Prologue selected the audible and visual components, emphasizing the extreme circumstances and risks that each character faced, seemingly against all odds. As is the case with Argo, the viewer is presented with the trials of gallantry that led to the liberation of six Americans amid the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The sequence for Lincoln, Daniel Day Lewis’ Oscar winning turn as the 16th American President, portrays the inevitable and auspicious shift in human history that will arise if slavery is abolished. These segments contribute to the larger body at hand, an event that bridges all nationalities, honoring the previous year’s most outstanding achievements in film.