Friday, 7 August 2015

Some belated thoughts on the second Spectre trailer

The second trailer for the upcoming Spectre has generated enormous excitement, and it's easy to see why. Jam-packed with thrilling action, intriguing characters, exotic locations, impossible stunts, and witty dialogue, the new Bond film appears to have all the ingredients of a classic Bond film.

One of the most exciting aspects for me in the first trailer was the use of material from Ian Fleming's novels, notably the (blink and you'll miss it) reference in the form of an order of guardianship to Bond's aunt, Charmian Bond, mentioned in Bond's obituary in You Only Live Twice. There's more Fleming in the second trailer. The large table at which Franz Oberhauser, played by Christoph Waltz, sits answers more to the description of the SPECTRE table in Thunderball the novel, at which twenty SPECTRE members sit, than the table (of sorts) in Thunderball the film, at which only ten or so members are present.

The second trailer also looks back to the film series. The use of the main theme music from On Her Majesty's Secret Service is an appropriate and evocative accompaniment to what promises to be significant snow-set action, and reminds us that the original novel provides the inspiration for the character of Franz Oberhauser.

James Bond's white dinner jacket, complete with red carnation, is a nice nod to Goldfinger, in which Connery's Bond wears something similar. Indeed, Daniel Craig's jacket appears to be a close replica of that worn by Connery. Come to think of it, Roger Moore's Bond wears a white dinner jacket in Octopussy, and the garment now joins the back dinner suit and naval outfit as an essential Bond 'uniform'.

Speaking of clothing, Oberhauser gets to wear something equally iconic, a Nehru jacket of a sort first worn by Dr No and then Telly Savalas' Blofeld in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. No doubt the jacket reinforces the connection between Oberhauser and SPECTRE and possibly Blofeld himself (could they be the same person?). The dark shading of Oberhauser's jacket is certainly closer in style to Blofeld's jacket than Dr No's (though even closer, intriguingly, to the Nehru jacket that Bond wears in Dr No).

The second trailer evokes more recent films, too. Mr White, who was introduced in Casino Royale and reappeared in Quantum of Solace, turns up again in Spectre. His chilling line, "He is everywhere," echoes what he tells Bond and M in Quantum of Solace: "The first thing you should know about us, is that we have people everywhere." The similarity of the dialogue perhaps serves to underline a connection between the Quantum organisation and SPECTRE, of which all will presumably be revealed.

Another line of dialogue brought GoldenEye to mind. When Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) asks Bond whether “this is really what you want? Living in the shadows? Hunting, being hunted? Always alone?”, I was reminded of the scene on the Caribbean beach where Natalya Simonova asks Bond, “How can you act like this? How can you be so cold?” Bond replies, “It's what keeps me alive”, to which Natalya responds, “No, it's what keeps you alone.” There have been similar moments of introspection in subsequent films (Paris Carver, for example, asking Bond whether he “still sleeps with a gun under his pillow”), and it seems Bond is still being asked questions about his feelings.

One aspect of the second trailer that I'm less keen on is the allusion to Bond as a rogue agent, as we see him carry out an unauthorised mission in Mexico. Bond-as-rogue-agent has become a standard trope in recent Bond films, and it is something with which I have never been entirely comfortable. After all, the Bond of the books never goes rogue (well, not properly; even his unofficial raid on Piz Gloria has M's approval, and he was brainwashed when he attempted to assassinate M in The Man with the Golden Gun), and would no doubt feel mortified at the thought of letting M down. That said, Bond does have a twinkle in his eye when he tells M he was talking some overdue holiday, and appears relaxed talking to Moneypenny about whether he's finished, so perhaps the consequences of Bond's Mexican jaunt aren't so serious and that he's acting with M's approval soon after the credits roll.

Just as recent films have tended to give us rogue Bond, so too have they made the missions personal to Bond (Quantum of Solace and Skyfall being the most recent examples). Spectre continues the trend. Again I'm not sure I wholly approve, but in the case of Spectre the personal element to the story will at least give us aspects of Fleming's novels not used till now, notably Oberhauser and Charmian Bond, which are very welcome.

Together the two trailers for Spectre promise a spectacular Bond film. October 26th could not come soon enough.

2 comments:

  1. Greatly looking forward to this film, but wanting to reserve any judgement. I'm a little wary in some ways. Mr White once again telling Bond or MI6 how they are I'll-equipped to deal with this unseen organisation; "We have people everywhere" (QoS), "You're a kite dancing in a hurricane" (Spectre). When my wife saw the trailer, she said she hoped that Monica Bellucci's character is not 'another villain's wife/girlfriend who sleeps with Bond and helps him out'.
    I'm really hoping that whatever suspicions I have will be blown out of the water and that I will be both thrilled and, more importantly, surprised by the turn of events up on the screen.
    Ah well, we'll all have a better idea in just a few short months. I cannot wait! Considering the talent behind this film, I think it will be great.

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    1. Yes, the recent Bonds do seem to have many of the same tropes. But while the trailer suggested a few familiar aspects, I'm sure there'll be plenty in the film to surprise and excite us. Really can't wait. Only one question remains. Will the gunbarrel be back at the start of the film?

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