James Bond, the screen character, turns 50 in Skyfall (the fictional spy from Ian Fleming’s novels is 59). In the 23rd Bond movie which isn’t based on any of Ian Fleming’s work, the British spy, played by the craggy-faced hunk Daniel Craig, goes missing in Istanbul but surfaces when MI6 comes under attack from the government. Celebrations for Bond’s 50th start the world over on 5 October; the movie opens in India on 1 November, eight days ahead of the US release.
India bonds with Bond: all the spy films has been released here, and every new release opens to wider and wider audiences. Skyfall will descend on India with 1,000 prints in four languages (English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu). The movie’s title will stay the same across languages, so no Aasman Se Gira for the Hindi version.
The new film has a new director – Sam Mendes – and a villain who looks a cross between Andy Warhol without spectacles and a French designer having a bad hair day. Spanish thespian Javier Bardem, several kilos lighter from since we last saw him, plays Raoul Silva, the latest despicable high-living low-life to make the mistake of taking on Bond.
We’re not sure how Mendes, who’s directed the domestic dramas American Beauty and Revolutionary Road, will influence Skyfall. Will Bond brood more than he has in the previous two films? Will he fight with his girlfriend over breakfast? Will M and Bond discuss the impossibility of maintaining steady relationships? Somehow, we think not.
Whatever else he does, Bond is expected to keep the flag of the luxury industry flying.
Where outside of a men’s magazine will you see Aston Martin cars, Savile Row suits and Omega watches in the same place? No franchise plugs products, whether it’s a phone or a beer brand, as assiduously as Bond. The series “provides an ideal framework” within which to “catalogue the number and types of products used within a particular timeframe”, says Tanya Nitins in her book Selling James Bond.
The part of Bond’s disposable bedroom partner is filled in this time by the exotic French beauty Berenice Marlohe. Does Marlohe’s casting have anything to do with the fact that she, like Bond, also endorses Omega? Just asking.
Apart from Judi Dench’s M, the other principal actress in the cast is Naomie Harris’s field agent. Fans of Pirates of the Caribbean will remember Harris as Tia Dalma, the oracle in dire need of a dentist. Movie franchises have always made room for interesting indie actors – like Ben Wishaw, the thinking woman’s darling from such indie flicks as I’m Not There and Bright Star. He plays a vastly younger Q, the scientist who gives Bond his technological edge over rivals.