My love of James Bond is firmly anchored to my childhood.
The era of the double film bill. Marple’s Odeon Cinema. The primary school party if you were lucky enough to be invited.
I would go to a Saturday matinee, sit on scratchy velour seats all afternoon and look forward to a milk choc-ice at at the break. As an extra treat I could hear Shirley Bassey singing the soundtracks about things I didn’t quite understand in her velvety, incendiary voice.
Certain iconic images still file past in my head : Odd Job’s killer bowler hat with his implacable smile; Ursula Andress pretending to be a mermaid in that bikini; Pussy Galore’s eager black suited girl squadron just waiting to be educated otherwise and of course Sean Connery’s ability to smoke, wear perfect suits and still maintain a suave sense of irony. ….did I mention THAT car? The Aston Martin DB5….a prayer on wheels…
Bond films were a gorgeous homage to desire,to bodily design in all its shapes, to the look of lethal love!
Roger Moore always seemed sleazy to me. Too flabbily tired to satisfy anyone and to defeat the various villains who always seemed to live underneath forgotten islands with animals no zoo would give a home to.
I used to look away when he ‘got the girl’. Yuk! In fact Double YUK!
But then I loved Pierce Brosnan in Golden Eye. Still one of my favourite openings in Bond. Impossibly handsome and suave, always. Eyes on the horizon, flickering. Wicked Dominatrix Oonatop striding into our vision with her East European gleam!
How time passes….
When I saw Casino Royale I hated the sterility of the new Bond, the ‘authentic’ injection of Ian Fleming’s grit and realism. You could keep it.
Realism, I spit on it.
For where was the delicious irony, the seductive wit, the suave confidence of old? It just wasn’t gorgeous any more. Gorgeousness was dead! And then poor Eva Green got drowned in a lift in that Venetian lagoon whilst we watched …
Gorgeousness was truly dead.
So I didn’t bother with Quantum of Solace at all. It sounded like some migraine inducing activity best suited to those with short attention spans.
I was right but then…
I was wrong.
Skyfall is another matter.
Adele enticed me in at first. She has the sexy, decadently sharp vocals of Dame Shirley Bassey and insinuates far more than we need to know….
…as Skyfalls…a new verb for the pleasure of release..
This Bond song is about doing and being….BOND!
All hail Sam Mendes who directed Skyfall and reintroduced what I thought had been buried forever whilst adding his own contribution of to the famous franchise. He gives Bond depth. His Bond has imagination. He is sensitive to betrayal. He is witty again.
He can even sprint well in a very tight suit.
And he can rebuild himself: ‘My hobby is RESURRECTION!’
Skyfall is a sombre Bond film, yet the sombre co-exists with a newly thawed out Daniel Craig as James Bond himself Gone are the steely blue psychopathic eyes of his previous two Bond ventures. Here is a shaken, stirred but definitely not broken Bond.
The warmed up ice man also looks the part in his close fitting Brioni suits. The suits are only gifted to him once he has resurrected himself from his ‘Skyfall’ his Icarus like moment when he takes one too many chances and pays the penalty which is the apparent death of Mother M’s favourite OO agent.
Once re-suited and wearing Brioni, Bond can fire away again, treating the viewers to several admiring shots of Daniel Craig running powerfully and with purpose in an over tight suit.
Its all in the muscles and the granite shaped cheek bones- clear markers for OO7’s resolve and moral purpose.
I enjoyed the film’s assured ‘flirtation’ with lots of other references too and this flirtation worked for me as it wasn’t forced or studiedly clever.
I kept feeling an emotional ‘whoosh’ as images from Angel heart, Lost in Translation and even Dr Faustus lit up the screen. Towards the end when we get to resolve the villain, the’ M problem’ and Bond’s own family demons through a visit to the stunning home of his parents locked up and away in the wilds of Scotland , there I was again, in Robert Louis Stevensons’s Kidnapped!
The land of my fathers…secret priest holes, a ruin’d chapel and plenty of cathartic fire. I felt I was in John Buchan’s Thirty Nine Steps one minute, Du Maurier’s Rebecca the next…how the Freudians must nod knowingly…
James burns it all down.
A Viking Valhalla for his youth and for his surrogate mother M who dies heroically in his arms whilst he weeps….’too late to make a run for it..’
The film is cinematically kaleidoscopic. It lingers over brief ‘dishes’ like Modigliani’s nude come to life and staring back across Shanghai’s night sky, at James Bond. Desire is reciprocated and then played out unto death
‘I like you better without your Beretta.’
‘Regret is unprofessional.’
Wit is back. Glib is diluted. Intelligence is edgy and uncomfortably grown up. But we still smile.
The villain Javier Bardem apparently nearly crosses the heterosexual line with Bond. Bond is tied up and Bardem touches his chest in a lingering manner. Bardem assumes Bond is threatened, out of his comfort zone.
No chance. ‘What makes you think I haven’t done it before?’
Not so much a question as a derisory dismissal.
Bond is truly resurrected!
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