Saturday, 22 September 2012

Fleming memes in the Skyfall trailer

Any Ian Fleming fans who have wondered whether Skyfall would include any elements from the James Bond novels are likely to have been reassured when viewing the main Skyfall trailer. In it, the words in Bond's obituary that we see M write are taken almost verbatim from M's obituary in the novel, You Only Live Twice. That Skyfall evidently includes Bond's 'death' and, as Bond himself puts it, his 'resurrection', suggests that some of the themes of Fleming's penultimate novel, if not its actual episodes, have been mined for ideas for the film.

The trailer appears to show another nod to Fleming. Javier Bardem's villain, Raoul Silva, tells Bond, 'She sent you up to me, knowing you're not ready, knowing you would likely die. Mommy was very bad.' I love that line. To me, it perfectly evokes the spirit of Fleming's writing. In particular, it brings to mind the torture episode in Casino Royale.

As the naked Bond is strapped to the chair and threatened with a carpet beater (chapter 17), Le Chiffre tells him, 'You are not equipped, my dear boy, to play games with adults and it was very foolish of your nanny in London to have sent you out here with your spade and bucket'. Both the delivery of the lines and the chilling allusion to childhood convey the villains' sense of absolute dominance over Bond and the confidence that their plans will prevail.

Perhaps, too, the reference in Silva's line to M as 'mommy' is an allusion to Fleming's nickname for his mother, Eve. In letters he wrote to her when he was a child, he occasionally called her 'M', and this in turn may have had some influence on the naming of Bond's chief.

Come October and November, Fleming aficionados will be carefully watching Skyfall to identify elements of the Bond novels. Just from the trailer, though, it is unlikely that they will be disappointed. We already know that Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig re-read Fleming before embarking on the film, and the result appears to be that Skyfall has inherited several memes from the books.


Lycett, A, 1995 Ian Fleming: The man behind James Bond, Turner

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