Bond v0.5 - You Only Live Twice
You Only Live Twice
Spaceships spaceships and more spaceships!! This fifth installment in the Bond series takes us into outer space in a grand fashion. The film starts off with a US space capsule being literally swallowed up by another, more sinister craft - to the absolute horror of ground control. Instantly the accusations start flying, with the Americans blaming the Soviets, and the Soviets blaming the Americans for staging the whole thing… The world is on the brink of war!!
It’s this high drama that sets the scene for You Only Live Twice. While space is a predominant theme, Japan and the orient is actual “theme” of this film. Where Thunderball was underwater, this is Japan. Showing “Commander Bond” being seduced by an asian femme only to be pinned up against a wall and shot - the story then shows us several spy agencies witnessing his funeral. With Bond now officially dead - he can get along with a lot less attention - hence the title.
I’ve got to say - this for me has been the least enjoyable Bond movie so far in the marathon. It’s almost no wonder that Sean Connery stepped down from his Bond title after this outting, it really is a low point. I’m not going as far as saying it’s a bad film, just that the others have been of a calibre that this film just doesn’t live up to.
It does have some highlights of course. The space scenes, as dated as they are today, would have been about as dramatic as anything could be - in it’s day. Unfortunately, seeing it in 2008 on a widescreen plasma - there certainly is something lost in translation. The bay doors are wobbly, the rockets just shoot sparkler smoke, and you can see the strings used in the landing scenes, however, it’s still pretty impressive given the era. One thing that really gives these scenes an epic/dramatic feel, is the accompanying music - it is just spectacular! If anything, this score actually improves with age! I can imagine “back in the day” that dramatic orchestral music would have been par for the course, but today, it’s a beautiful and delicate touch, masterminded of course by the legendary John Barry.
One more “highlight” here, is James being transformed using cosmetic… well, cosmetics, into an Authentic Japanese fisherman. Jup, with judicious use of foundation, tanning cream and a toupe, he’s miraculously stealthed so as to blend in with the other locals. He’s also provided with a Bride - described lovingly as having a face like a pig - ahh the sexual discrimination is rampant here!! It’s just such a crappy piece of film story telling… I’m not sure if it’s because of film evolution, or if it was just bad. Roald Dahl was the script writer too… I just don’t get it.
So there we are - after seeing the farsical fight scene at the end of Thunderball, and now this poor sibling to the series, its not a huge surprise that Connery stepped down/was replaced for the next film.... and so:
Jame Bond will return in…
On Her Majesties Secret Service.