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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
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    Bond films are for ever

    The fully restored Bond DVDs are extra special, finds Nigel Kendall

    Lighting a cigarette in a crowded casino, Sean Connery announced his arrival as a star 44 years ago with three words: “Bond. James Bond.? This moment, from Dr No, still captivates, and though Bond in his five incarnations to date (Daniel Craig is the sixth official Bond) has been regularly modernised, the films themselves have never really been brought up to date. Until now.

    Next week, all 20 James Bond films are rereleased on DVD, each one having undergone a full frame-by-frame restoration from the original negatives. The result is astounding. Long used to the sight of faded grass and murky seas on the older original films, I was bowled over by the vivid greens and blues on the new discs. Reds, previously a murky brown, throb with life, and the films suddenly look remarkably modern. The effect is enhanced by surround-sound on all films (not until The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 did Bond get Dolby stereo), making muffled speech and music a thing of the past.

    “This is the biggest restoration of its kind ever undertaken for a series of films,? says Mike Inchalik, of DTS, the American digital restoration specialist. “Our brief was to make the films look and sound as if they were shot yesterday.?

    Our panel of teenagers puts this claim to the test with Goldfinger, but the release of the new DVDs is likely to provoke as much ire as delight among the world’s millions of Bond fanatics, since many will already have shelled out for the previous DVD release of six years ago. That set, one of the first major releases to make use of DVD extras, was rightly praised at the time for its plethora of commentaries and specially commissioned documentaries, which told the warts-and-all tales behind the making of the films.

    The good news about the new DVDs is that all these extras survive. “We didn’t want to change them because they were so good,? says Inchalik. “But we have also scoured the planet for new material from the time the films were made.? The result is that each film in the set now comes on two discs, offering such delights as 1960s newsreel footage of Prince Andrew being presented with an Aston Martin DB5, and advertisements for Burton’s “James Bond slacks? (7s 6d). Roger Moore, Bond number three, has also recorded new, amiably rambling commentaries for all of his films, while the more recent Pierce Brosnan movies come with outtakes and press conference footage.But what else do the DVDs tell us about the world’s favourite secret agent?

    The guy

    Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, had been trying to get his character on screen since the 1950s, but a dull American TV version of Casino Royale, starring Barry Nelson as “Jimmy Bond?, hadn’t helped his cause. Fleming had imagined Cary Grant in the role, and was less than pleased when a tattooed, hirsute Scotsman was cast. Connery got the job, according to the producer Albert “Cubby? Broccoli, because he moved like a tiger when stalking out of the producers’ office, having told them to stick their job. Fleming died a few months before the release of the third Bond film, Goldfinger, in 1964, but atoned for his earlier error of judgment concerning Connery by making Bond part Scottish in his last few books.

    Even now, Connery the actor does not get the credit he deserves for creating a screen icon: his Bond was a cruel, single-minded hedonist, yet audiences loved him. “What we realised,? says Broccoli’s widow Dana, “was that we’d actually created a universal hero.? When Moore took over, the character was rewritten to accommodate the actor’s love of jokes.

    The girls

    As feminism took root in the 1960s, few things provoked as much anger as Bond’s treatment of women, and the producers acknowledge that they struggled to keep pace with the times. What is often forgotten, however, is that in the early 1960s — when “good? girls still “saved themselves? for marriage — the idea of young women having sex for pleasure and (bar the occasional messy death) not suffering for it was little short of life-changing. You could, in fact, argue that James Bond kick-started the sexual revolution, beating the poet Philip Larkin’s famous observation by a whole 12 months.

    In the early films, the Bond producers would scour the world’s beauty pageants for women for Bond. If, like Daniela Bianchi (Miss World runner-up 1960) in From Russia with Love, they didn’t speak English, they were dubbed. The casting of Diana Rigg, whom George Lazenby’s Bond marries in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, marked a shift towards “real? actresses.

    The gadgets and gizmos

    The Aston Martin DB5, seen in Goldfinger and Thunderball, remains the most famous of Bond’s gadgets. In the end, four promotional cars were built. Three survive: the film’s original, bought by a collector for $250,000 in the 1980s, was stolen in 1997 and has never been recovered. All those gadgets, and no burglar alarm.

    Bond’s submarine Lotus Esprit (The Spy Who Loved Me), meanwhile, required seven separate body shells to convert convincingly for travel underwater. When Bond switched to the German BMW with GoldenEye, it caused a furore in the press — and a headache for the producers: BMW could not supply enough finished cars, so the car’s planned role was cut down. Bond gadgets can even fool experts. The production team on Thunderball one day received a phone call from the Royal Navy, wondering where they could get their hands on James Bond’s miniature underwater breathing device. The Navy was crestfallen to discover that no such device existed.

    The goons

    From Goldfinger on, baddies and their henchmen figure large in the Bond universe. Harold Sakata, a former pro wrestler, continued to make money out of Oddjob in TV commercials for cough syrup, but only one henchman proved so popular that he was brought back for more. This was the metal-toothed Jaws, played by the 7ft 2in American actor Richard Kiel (The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker). “Can you imagine having to go to work wearing a dental cast??

    Bond’s arch enemy is, of course, the white cat-loving Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who first appears, unnamed, in From Russia with Love. The moggie in question hasn’t been spotted since the opening sequence of For Your Eyes Only, and a resurrection is surely overdue.

    The Bond films are out on DVD on Monday.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Germany Wolfgang's Avatar
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    Jul 2004
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    I disagree that James Bond promoted casual sex for girls. Its whole underlying philosophy is that James Bond is irresistable - these girls cannot help themselves despite knowing what they are doing is 'wrong'. They used traditional attitudes to enhance his sex appeal rather than kickstarting any sexual revolution. This is something that does not work in today's films, because many young girls usually have several lovers before they settle down and marry now, so it is no achievement for him, and no forbidden desire her. I would counter that James Bond became irrelevant post sexual revolution.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2006
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    I read that not all of the Bond films have been restored/remastered, so it'll be interesting to find out which ones have. Obviously the contemporary ones probably haven't, but I'd expect that from Moore and before, for those to look brand-spanking-new.

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