The twice born hero

Posted on October 25, 2012


Fiction is a work of thought. To muster enough to pen 14 novels and over a dozen short stories is more than the required foundation to launch any movie series and have it run for decades together without any hiccup.

Let me tell you beforehand, I am an ardent follower of James Bond in cinema and my knowledge of the novels is mediocre.

This comes to the point that most of the films had only borrowed the title and essence of the novels. There are instances when only the title was borrowed and the story was completely changed.

The novels and short stories ensured that the upcoming movies were planned. As the titles ended, “James Bond would return in <respective movie>” would flash for a few seconds.

For me, it was just the next movie I would borrow from the video library. This order was, however, changed once. For Your Eyes Only (1981), which was supposed to follow The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) was sidelined for Moonraker (1979). The success of Star Wars had prompted producers to shoot Moonraker first.

But what would happen once the producers ran out of stock?

When almost all novels and short stories had been made into movies? Ending the series was definitely not the option. It had to be taken forward, a commercial success such as this wouldn’t have had an end.

License to Kill (1989) was the last movie that was written by Fleming. Adapted from The Hildebrand Rarity, the movie released at a time when the Cold War was coming to an end.

Fleming’s Bond was always in war and when espionage was very crucial for England.

How would Bond survive? There was a dire need to change the structure of the series and the man himself.

James Bond had gone into a reboot. Pierce Brosnan took over the reins for GoldenEye (1995), which released six years after License to Kill. The Soviet Union was no more and the cold war was on the process of being forgotten.

There was a paradigm shift in the whole character. Bond survived on espionage during war (cold war included). But GoldenEye gave writers and producers a chance to showcase bond in a different period,to start afresh. Make the character more relevant to the current times.

St.Petersburg has changed and times have changed says Robbie Coltrane portraying Zukovsky, Bond’s old friend and contact in Russia.

But, that didn’t stop Bond from destroying half of the celebrated city.

What Brosnan bought into the character was his suave style, an ‘Iceman’ attitude which was a many a shade different from the previous actors’ styles.

It was imperative to make use of a chance to rehash the legend, commercially exploit the concept and make a billion dollars out of it.

But, this move, as expected, did not last for long as the whole concept of ‘Bond’ was more than the outburst of dodging bullets, driving custom-made cars, delivering punch dialogues, dabbling with luxury and seducing women.

A wise production team decided for yet another reboot. But doing more justice this time by giving Bond a fresh start and a new beginning.

Casino Royale (2006), the first Bond novel Fleming wrote, was picked up. Daniel Craig came against odds to be picked up as Bond. Until then, Casino Royale (1967) was reduced to a spoof starring David Niven, Peter Sellers and a young Woody Allen.

Martin Campbell who took over the reins for GoldenEye was once again made chef-de-mission for the second reboot.

Campbell’s work was ably supported by a good script and story that added steam to the series. Campbell for burdening the pressure of recreating Bond twice makes him my favourite Bond director over Terence Young, Lewis Gilbert, Guy Hamilton and John Glen.

“It takes,” says M, in the movie (and the first trailer) as Bond interrupts saying,”three.” The kills required for a 00 status.

Bond has just entered the 00-business, the best way to start the reboot.

Fleming, when writing the books, also weaved in a well-planned nemesis in SMERSH (SPECTRE) apart from the one-off villains including Auric Goldfinger, Francisco Scaramanga. Apart from them, Karl Stromberg was created for The Spy Who Loved Me.

When Casino Royale was released we learn about a mass-crime organisation, just like SPECTRE, which could pull off even a war and Quantum of Solace made the nemesis bigger.

Although Quantum of Solace was not as successful or appreciated as Casino Royale, it set up a sequel which every Bond fan would yearn for.

Skyfall will make up where Quantum of Solace failed in terms of adrenaline rush. It has been certified as the second longest Bond movie after Casino Royale, which leaves us more eager.

For the first time in the film series’ history, the title song was released ahead of the movie – Adele’s Skyfall.

Skyfall will be where the phoenix after rising from the ashes will take off.