Friday, October 26, 2012


Sam Mendes: Skyfall (GB/US 2012) starring Daniel Craig as James Bond.

007 Skyfall / 007 Skyfall.
    GB/US © 2012 Danjaq / United Artists / Columbia Pictures. P: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson.
    D: Sam Mendes. SC: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan – based on characters created by Ian Fleming. "Ulysses" by Alfred Tennyson (1833 / 1842).
    DP: Roger Deakins – Camera: Arri Alexa M, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses, Arri Alexa Plus, Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo Lenses, Arri Alexa Studio, Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo Lenses, Red Epic, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses (helicopter shots). – Laboratory: Company 3, London, UK (digital intermediate), EFilm (digital intermediate) – Source format: Codex – Cinematographic process: ARRIRAW (2.8K) (source format), Digital Intermediate (4K) (master format), Redcode RAW (5K) (source format) (aerial shots) – Printed film format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Kodak Vision 2383), 70 mm (horizontal) (IMAX blow-up) (Kodak Vision 2383), D-Cinema – Aspect ratio: 2.35:1. Digital imaging services: 4K London. Camera team: huge.
    PD: Dennis Gassner. AD: Chris Lowe. Set dec: Anna Pinnock. Art dept: huge. SFX team: big. VFX team: huge – MPC, Lola VFX, Double Negative, Cinesite, BlueBolt, Baseblack, Peerless Camera, Blue-Bolt, Nvizible, The Moving Picture Company, Hydraulx, previz. Stunt team: huge. Cost: Jany Temime. Special costume credit: Tom Ford. Makeup: Naomi Donne. Hair: Zoe Tahir. AN: David Bryan. Animatronic designers.
    M: Thomas Newman. Theme song "Skyfall" (Adele Adkins, Paul Epworth) perf. Adele. The villain's anthem: "Boom Boom" (John Lee Hooker) perf. The Animals.
    S: Karen M. Baker, Per Hallberg. ED: Stuart Baird. Casting: Debbie McWilliams. The painting: J. M. W. Turner: The Fighting Temeraire (tugged to her last berth to be broken up) (1838).
    C: Daniel Craig (James Bond), Judi Dench (M), Javier Bardem (Raoul Silva / Tiago Rodriguez), Ralph Fiennes (Gareth Mallory / M), Naomie Harris (Eve Moneypenny), Bérénice Marlohe (Sévérine), Albert Finney (Kincade), Ben Whislaw (Q), Rory Kinnear (Tanner), Ola Rapace (Patrice).
    Loc: Istanbul, the Varda railway bridge near Adana, Fethiye (Turkey) – London – Shanghai – Hashima Island – Smithfield Market, Holborn, London (car chase) – Glen Etive (Highland, Scotland) – Hankley Common (Elstead, Surrey).
    Studios: Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage (Pinewood Studios).
    144 min.
    Released by FS Film with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Anitra Paukkula / Rabbe Sandelin.
    Viewed at Kinopalatsi 1, Helsinki, 26 Oct 2012 (European premiere day). 

James Bond 50th anniversary logo.

Skyfall Lodge is the name of Bond's ancestral home in Scotland.

AA: There was a special feeling of attention and appreciation among the audience to a movie which is clearly better than the two previous Bond adventures. Skyfall belongs to the category of industrial design in the cinema, to the class of producers' cinema. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have taken enormous risks and solved huge problems in the changing production circumstances. To succeed again they have had to reinvent much of the success formula.

The 50th anniversary James Bond movie is a reboot of the concept. The cold war ended over 20 years ago, rendering the original Bond concept obsolete, but the movies had been making fun of it almost from the beginning, at least since Goldfinger. Now the whole idea of traditional espionage and the 00 activity with a licence to kill is being questioned.

The movie starts with the theft of a hard drive with an almost complete register of NATO agents in terrorist organizations. On the orders of M there is a shooting which brings down James Bond to almost certain death. He is declared missing, probably killed, and given a funeral. In the most important turning-point the villain Silva hacks into the MI6 data administration system and blows up the MI6 headquarters.

The rules have changed, and M and Bond fight what looks like a losing battle in the new age of cyber-espionage and cyber terrorism.

M quotes Alfred Tennyson:
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The villain's intent: to destroy MI6 – and M. His motive: revenge. His character: completely mad. Silva belongs with villains such as The Joker in The Dark Knight, and there are even more sinister hints that remain unexplored in the movie.

Bérénice Marlohe's performance is impressive as Sévérine, sadistically threatened by Silva. Her voice and body language tell us about unspeakable terrors.

Memorable features in the movie: – The ruined island city of Silva. – James Bond's leap into a moving subway train in London. – The ruined buildings at Skyfall mirror Silva's desolate island. – The grave of James Bond's parents at Skyfall with the names Andrew Bond and Monique Delacroix engraved on the gravestone. – Silva's tale of the two rats standing – representing Bond and Silva. – James Bond's tears as M dies. – In the conclusion we meet the new M (Ralph Fiennes) and Miss Moneypenny (Eve, the agent who shot James Bond in the prologue).

Skyfall is much better edited than the two previous Bond movies – Quantum of Solace was a mess with its relentless blitz montages. Stuart Baird is a master in this genre; I also liked his approach as an action director in Executive Decision. There is a good, strong, assured and catchy rhythm in Skyfall. Action sequences are balanced with more reflective sequences.

Also the cinematography of Skyfall – DP: Roger Deakins (a favourite of the Coen brothers! and Sam Mendes) – is better than in the previous two Bond adventures. Not yet on the same level as the glorious all-photochemical James Bond movies, but getting there again. Warm colour is back. Nature footage does not usually look good on digital, and here it is being avoided.
J. M. W. Turner: The Fighting Temeraire (1838)
Wikipedia "The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up, 1838 is an oil painting executed in 1839 by the English artist J. M. W. Turner. It depicts one of the last second-rate ships of the line which played a distinguished role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the 98-gun ship HMS Temeraire, being towed towards its final berth in Rotherhithe south east London in 1838 to be broken up for scrap. The painting hangs in the National Gallery, London, having been bequeathed to the nation by the artist in 1851."

"Sir Henry Newbolt wrote a ballad titled The Fighting Temeraire, referencing the scenario depicted: "And she's fading down the river, But in England's song for ever, She's the Fighting Téméraire." Turner himself presented the painting for display in 1839 accompanied by an altered excerpt from Thomas Campbell's poem Ye Mariners of England, reading:"

"The flag which braved the battle and the breeze,
"No longer owns her.

Alfred Tennyson: Ulysses (1833 / 1842)
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

         This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

         There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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