Why Mendes couldn’t direct a FRWL type film

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

There’s a new issue of Empire magazine that’s guest edited by Sam Mendes, the director of SPECTRE. The DIGITAL SPY WEBSITE has a post quoting from that issue.

Specifically, the Digital Spy post includes quotes from Mendes whether, in SPECTRE, Christoph Waltz plays SPECTRE mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

The filmmaker also took issue with fans demanding to know if Waltz is Blofeld before seeing the film.

Responding to the criticism over Star Trek Into Darkness’s John Harrison/Khan reveal, Mendes said: “Why was there a backlash? There’s a narrative as well. The naming of a character is part of a story.

The audience cannot and should not be given – and I’m not confirming or denying anything – information that the characters do not have. And preserving tension in the narrative of a story that is a riff or an acknowledgement of the iconography of Bond over the years has been crucial.” (emphasis added)

That’s interesting. Still, while it might not be the best comparison, From Russia With Love, the second James Bond film, may be the exception to what Mendes describes.

In the 1963 movie, the audience is shown most of the conspiracy that James Bond (Sean Connery) will confront. Bond himself doesn’t appear until 18 minutes into the film, although there’s a phony Bond in the pre-titles sequence to hold the interest of the audience.

In Ian Fleming’s 1957 novel, things were even more dramatic. The first 10 chapters show the conspiracy (a Soviet one, while the movie was SPECTRE-driven), and Bond doesn’t show up until Chapter 11. Fleming would attempt something similar in The Spy Who Loved Me novel (where 007 doesn’t put in an appearance until the final third of the story). That novel wasn’t as well received as From Russia With Love.

The point being in the second Bond film, the audience knows a lot that Bond doesn’t know by the time the British agent becomes involved in the case. Still, there was plenty of tension and a number of twists.

Perhaps From Russia With Love is a special case, the exception that proves Mendes’ rule. Still, From Russia With Love was a journeyman director (Terence Young), not the auteurs favored by Eon Productions in the 21st century. Sometimes, there aren’t hard and fast story telling rules.

Advertisements

3 Responses

  1. He obviously meant that the character’s in star trek didn’t know his name, so why would the audience, unless you spoiled that in the trailer. Bond wouldn’t know him as Blofeld, he would only know him as Oberhauser his brother of adoption. in FRWL, the villain’s names arent’ intended as the mystery – Bond/the audience isn’t supposed to suddenly have a revelation and go ‘Oh, that was Rosa Klebb the whole time!’

  2. I’m put in mind of the old definition of the difference between a ‘mystery’ and a ‘thriller’: The former is about the solving of a crime; the latter is about the prevention of a crime. Withholding information from the audience is crucial in a mystery story, whereas laying out all the steps of the conspiracy in a thriller story raises the stakes for the audience, and provides verisimilitude. (In THUNDERBALL, we see how the bombs are stolen and where they’re taken at the beginning of the show, way before M reassigns 007 to the Bahamas.) Given that a James Bond story is normally considered to be in the ‘thriller’ genre, Mr. Mendes’ comments don’t seem to make much sense.

  3. […] has said the audience can’t know more than the characters. Yet, in From Russia With Love the audience knew more than Connery/Bond (though not everything, of […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: