Once a person has read social theory in Grad School, a person simply cannot avoid analyzing a piece of art through a simplistic layman’s prism. His vision towards life is ‘informed’ of social facts and realities which the sociologically ill informed cannot see. As it is an Intellectual Burden, or so I was taught in School. I do not agree with this elitist perspective (most sociologists are leftist thinkers, hence the paradox). But social theory does certainly present us a theoretical grounding to detect where the meta narrative’s wagon wheel is heading towards.
I am a huge fan of the Bond Franchise; as I have grown up with the Nuclear Terror of ‘Golden Eye’ , The Media shaping Global Politics in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ , a very Rupert Murdoch esque character, which meant that Bond had moved in to the post Cold War era. ‘The World is Not Enough’ and ‘Die Another Day’ had themes of Renewable Energy and Oil Pipeline Politics (The World is Not Enough), where Sophie Marceau killed it as the potential Oil Baroness (Stunning Diva too). Eclectic Themes, i must admit.
The Daniel Craig Films of ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘ The Quantum of Solace’ dealt with the themes of International Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. Very contemporary in the post 9/11 regime, with terrorist incidents effecting capital markets, hostile takeovers and intertwining with terror from ‘Non State Actors’. Quite Relevant.
Skyfall is a Bond Film with a difference. Must lengthier, much slower in pace. Sam Mendes has made an effort to capture the finer elements of characters with dry British Humor and a dash of detail, usually absent in this particular genre of Cinema. An intelligence sector based drama, taking the spy business’s home and re-evaluating the necessity of the craft in today’s networked world where, a single IT programmer can disrupt transportation networks as in the case of the London Tube. Or Rig an Election, terminate a target in hostile territory as Mr. Silver (Javier Bardem), as a rouge ex MI6 Agent attempts to do and succeeds to a large extent. The target here is not the British State, but his ex boss ‘M’ played with class by Dame Judi Dench. The film captures the vulnerability of our times, in overly connected world, we are robust yet incredibly fragile.
The film starts off in the Bazaars of Istanbul, quite a sight reaffirming after Ek Tha Tiger (a Bollywood Spy Thriller starring Salman Khan) that Turkey as a soft power is growing in currency. Well Erdogan with AKP is not doing badly with an extrovert Foreign Minister. Istanbul is on my itenary to visit next certainly. The film gravitates from Turkey to London back to the East with breath taking views of the Shanghai skyline and Macau exotica.
The attention of the film is on Britishness and London. Its the best infomercial for the capital that i feel is better than the Olympic Games in my opinion. And Bond is the Best British Cultural Export since the Beatles. ‘M’ in the Parliamentary inquiry spoke about the relevance of ‘fighting the shadows’ in a extremely decentralized enemy. The ‘Q’ in Film quipped about doing more damage in pajamas over a cup of earl grey in the morning than what a field agent can do in a year. The Element of Scottish Independence is recognized in the film, with the Scottish Spirit alive in the film. A very British, but Glocal Film.
There are various intellectual strands woven together in a thrilling narrative in the film but the few lines of poetry that ‘M’ orated in the Parliamentary Inquiry encapsulates the essence of the film :
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
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.
– Alfred, Lord Tennyson