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S K Y F A L L – A 50 Years Bond

21 October 2012

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S K Y F A L L – A 50 Years Bond; and still counting

He is neither a mutant nor an accidental visitor from another planet; he does not possess any psychic powers other than the natural talents of a normal human being, but he is the only fictional character who survived to be on the top of favourites around the Globe since the past 50 years and he shall be so for many more yet to come; and he is none other than James Bond, OO7, licenced to take the ‘Box-Office’ this winter with ‘SKYFALL’ by unprecedented storm, predicted to rake in $ One Billion according to cine pundits in USA. The release of the first James Bond movie Dr.No coincided with the Cuban Missile crisis and during that time the American President John.F.Kennedy wished he had James Bond as his staff to resolve the crisis. The second Bond movie ‘FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE’ was produced mainly because President Kennedy endorsed its paperback version as one of his all-time favourite novels, and the producers hit the jackpot for the second time. And then, James Bond became a cultural phenomenon with his third edition, ‘GOLDFINGER’ which was a stupendous box-office blockbuster and since then James Bond continued to stay as the most preferred male protagonist ever on this planet earth.

Celluloid has created a dream world where people connect themselves to one character after another and delve in them tentatively before passing to the next one they fancy; but the character of James Bond is still enticing the fans across generations unquenched with a continuous bond. In the sixties James Bond emerged as the most popular Icon, high above Beatles and Micky Mouse and even now after fifty years in a recent world-wide survey by, popular men’s portal having 2 Lakh readers showed that the Olympian athlete Usain Bolt came second to James Bond in popularity. The survey among half million readers resulted in President Obama as 11 th most popular, Hollywood actor Joseph Gorden Levitt as the 5th, the multi-talented American Actor, Seth MacFarlane, as the 4th, the two time ex-President of USA, Bill Clinton as 3rd, the 2012 Olympic champion Uasain Bolt as 2nd, and the celluloid super spy, James Bond OO7 as the NUMBER UNO. While all the rest of 49 are live people in flesh and blood, the surveyed preferred a fictional character James Bond as the first to the mortal ones; why?

The franchise of James Bond towers above all the fictional characters created by man since his evolution, and the credit does not go to Ian Fleming alone. When Ian Fleming created the character of James Bond, little he knew that it will survive for another 100 years. Now that the first half of the hundred years passed, the next half is also sure to secure his image for there is no other franchise across the globe that can match 007. Be it Superman, or Batman, or Spiderman, there is no one who can match the most-perfect character in the history of mankind. The tower of popularity was structurally engineered and built behind the screen by the producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, the script writers Richard Maibaum and others, the most remarkable and innovative Directors such as Terence Young, Guy Hamilton, Lewis Gilbert, Martin Campbell, and now Sam Mendes; the set designers like Ken Adams; the titles choreographers like Maurice Binder; and the last but not the least its music composers. Towering above all musicians is John Barry who composed the most famous signature track for the superspy which the youngest of OO7 fans can even mime.

On screen, it was the actors from Sir Sean Connery to the present Daniel Craig who portrayed Bond, six of them in total. If Sean was the one who gave the perfect shape to ‘James Bond’ with his style, wit and meanness gradually chiselling the character right from Dr.No and bringing it to its peak in ‘THUNDERBALL’ which is known to have been the first mega-hit in the history of James Bond movies; and the present Daniel Craig is the deserving protégé who has given perfect complexity to the character. Daniel not only brings in the emotional conflict in the character swallowing pain but also portrays the role blending it with traits of Sean and Brosnan together, but lagging slightly in the wit and one-liners effortlessly shot by Connery and Roger Moore. Daniel Craig is more athletic and known for his keen interest to perform most of his stunts taking all risks but sometimes makes the act near to cruel, for example the opening fight in the toilet in Casino Royale, which of course Fleming would have completely endorsed it as the essential character of Bond.

The present producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G.Wison have given a re-boot to the franchise by employing Martin Campbell once again in CASINO ROYALE after his earlier successful outing in GOLDENEYE and restored some prestige, but could not maintain the tempo in the next edition QUANTUM OF SOLACE in 2008. But later roping in Sam Mendes who won his Oscar for the Best Direction in American Beauty for ‘SKYFALL’, the Bond-23, shows their true grit who like their father Albert Broccoli wanted to regain the popularity with bigger productions after every three or four editions; ultimately promising ‘SKYFALL’ to be the best Bond film up to date, without leaving a stone unturned. In a press conference, when Sam Mendes the present Director of the movie ‘SKYFALL’ was asked whether he would once again have his luck at the Oscars, he replied that James Bond movies are made for fans world-wide and its primary objective is ‘entertainment’ rather than ‘awards’. Same Mendes received the Best Director for the movie, ‘American Beauty’ both at the Oscars and the Golden Globe Awards ceremonies held in the year 1999, and he is himself a James Bond fan since he saw his first film ‘Live and Let Die’ when he was seven years old. Among his other films is ‘Road to Perdition’ starring Tom Hanks which also stands out as a classic with a mafia background. His friendship with Daniel Craig, the present James Bond dates back to this movie where the actor portrayed as the mean son of the Mafia chief, Paul Newman.

In 1965, Norman Wanstall won the Oscar for Special Effects in ‘GOLDFINGER’, and in 1966, John Stears took away the Oscar for the Best ‘Special Visual Effects’ category for ‘THUNDERBALL’. But this time during Oscars 2013, there might be other categories too voting for SKYFALL, and it would be a fitting tribute if the members of the Academy Awards could facilitate a ‘Special Jury’ Award to the Producers of the James Bond series for their remarkable efforts keeping alive a movie franchise in No.1 position for half a century. The only reason the Academy might not consider can be that, despite making several attempts the American Film Industry failed to lure the audience with their own version of a superspy from Langley to match the famous MI6 Agent, James Bond OO7.

The thunderous opening of SKYFALL triggers on 1st November throughout the world, to create history for sure.

Prem Kumar Pothina


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