14 January 2022 316 Views

#FLEMINGFRIDAY. SKYFALL = THE QUEEN?

by James Murphy

Two Movies. But the SAME basic style/structure/sensibility?

The world and its dog now know how much I adore SKYFALL. For me, it is where the Daniel Craig Bond and perhaps, all 007 lore, ends. That rooftop amid union jacks and endless potential for stories never told, new and old.

Patriotic pride, moderated by a slight vulnerability in the hero, without ever emasculating him entirely. It’s right up there with DARK KNIGHT RISES‘ ‘café in Florence’ coda. 2012. A great year in film, in Britain and America and in life, generally.

But love is love. As in, sentiment: the heart wants what the heart wants. And I love and want..2012, on repeat. That is not the same as an objective appreciation of a movie and a true embrace of its many, valid criticisms. In the case of SKYFALL?

The stakes are remarkably small. There is a soft reboot at work, too and prematurely, thereby throwing out the work done with both CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE.

SKYFALL sees Peak Daniel Craig Bond aged, prematurely. They blow a load of character beats on the movie that could and arguably should have been saved for later in his 00 tenure? There is a lot of filler and office politics, an overly London-centric focus, too many Batman nods and a villain plan that makes as little sense as the film’s contrived conclusion. 

There. Objective enough for you? SKYFALL, much as I love it (had you guessed, that obvious?) is a bad Bond film. Lack of big picture villain plan. Minimal set piece action. Reduced globe trotting. VERY confused /mixed moral messages about Bond and his place in the world.

And YET..It is a GOOD FILM. Looks beautiful, throughout. Atmospheric. Literate. Philosophically rich. A meditation on mortality and consequence, without ever losing a sense  of HOPE (NO TIME TO DIE; take note, yeah?). And in its way? SKYFALL is an excellent companion to THE QUEEN (pun intended).

Consider the following points:

  • Peter Morgan wrote THE QUEEN. He also penned a treatment for what became SKYFALL.
  • Helen Mirren and Judi Dench have played Queens (Elizabeth 1, 2 and a few others). Queen Elizabeth 2 is the focus of THE QUEEN. ‘M’ is the central force for plot and character in SKYFALL.
  • Royal imagery and service of the crown is PART of the Bond brand.

 

  • Each film has lingering, loving shots of SCOTLAND!
  • Both movies deal with the passing of torches. It’s the ideal of advancing and preserving yet also adapting and changing the traditions to define Britain and its imagery of empire.

 

  • The Queen and M are both under attack. They are saved, in essence, by an initially impertinent younger man who could be a son. James Bond and Tony Blair?

 

  • 1997 is the year in which THE QUEEN is set. It was a peak era for Bond in its way. TOMORROW NEVER DIES was the height of ‘Cool Britannia’; same way SKYFALL = 2012 /Jubilee/London Olympics?
  • LOOK at Tony Blair’s costume at certain points in THE QUEEN. It is an exact replica of his real life garb. Itself identical to Pierce Brosnan’s look as 007.  Pierce even plays a thinly disguised fictional Blair counterpart in THE GHOST (WRITER). Inspired casting!

 

  • There is talk now of a 1990s period piece Bond film. Makes sense. Because the era of Blair is itself prime material for a spy in the field of an empire that was in transition. Losing territory but also asserting itself on a world stage. Ends badly, too: so you need not kill Bond at end of a Cavill tenure but you can hint that he left MI6 under a cloud, bookended by a present day Dalton/Brosnan? 

 

  • Michael Sheen plays Tony Blair, perfectly in THE QUEEN. He was also considered on several occasions as a possible Bond baddie (Sheen, that is, not Blair..although...). 😉
  • THE QUEEN was released in 2006. Same year as Bond’s reinvention with CASINO ROYALE. The seeds of SKYFALL had been sewn, then!

 

So, there you have it. THE QUEEN is basically an unofficial BOND FILM! Ticking clock. Britain’s future at stake. New heroes saving old symbolism, whilst accepting the passage of time with a dash of nostalgia to soften the blow.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, ONE AND ALL. JAMES BOND WILL RETURN. TRANSMISSION ENDS X

 

 



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