About that whole ‘Blofeld Trilogy’ thing…

SPECTRE teaser image

SPECTRE teaser image

This blog’s recent post about suggestions for Bond 25 included the idea that it may be time to let the “Blofeld Trilogy” idea pass. But many don’t want to let go. So here’s a closer look.

What is it? The phrase was popularized by Raymond Benson in his 1984 book The James Bond Bedside Companion, referring to Ian Fleming’s novels, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice.

The term “Blofeld Trilogy” isn’t mentioned in the index. On page 123, the author introduces his analysis of Thunderball thusly:

The ninth James Bond novel, Thunderball, is a terrific book. It is the beginning of what could be called the Blofeld Trilogy, which also includes On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice. Thunderball also marks the change from the earlier novels to the later, more mature books.

Anything wrong with that? Not wrong, but perhaps more complex.

How so? First, Fleming almost certainly didn’t plan a trilogy. The Thunderball novel was Fleming’s way of recouping time spent on the unsuccessful film project spearheaded by Kevin McClory. McClory sued after the novel came out. In the resulting settlement, future editions of the novel indicated it was based on a screen treatment by McClory, screenwriter Jack Whittingham and Fleming.

Second, Fleming wrote four novels during this period. He also penned The Spy Who Loved Me, published in 1962, written from the perspective of a woman who encounters Bond in the last third of the novel. Bond is on the trail of SPECTRE but this only is mentioned in passing. Again, a sign this wasn’t a planned thing.

An important part of the Blofeld Trilogy: At the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond’s new bride, Tracy, is dead. Early in the You Only Live Twice novel, we’re told how Bond has fallen apart and is about to get his walking papers. He’s given a last chance to salvage his career. The unlikely mission leads to Blofeld and a final confrontation.

Yeah, so? The 007 film series adapted the novels out of order (as hard-core fans know all too well), so the Blofeld Trilogy, per se, wasn’t done. However, Eon Productions already has clearly cherry picked from the Blofeld Trilogy.

Example: In Skyfall, Bond has fallen apart after being shot by Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). He’s a shell of former self when he finds out MI6 has been attacked. Even then, it takes quite a bit of screen time before Bond is back to his former self.

I repeat, yeah, so? Some fans would like Bond 25 to adapt the setup of the Blofeld Trilogy, have Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) killed and have 007 have a proper “revenge” story.

Initially, SPECTRE was a bit of a remake of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. During the scripting process, there was a henchwoman named Irma Bunt and the last line of the movie was Bond saying, “We have all the time in the world.” Both were deleted from the final film.

A couple of things, regarding Bond 25:

1) Do we really want Bond to fall apart for the second time in three movies? Remember, it’s not the Blofeld Trilogy if he doesn’t fall apart.

2) We’ve had either revenge story lines or elements of them in Licence to Kill, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day and Quantum of Solace. Does the film series really cry out for another revenge story?

Nobody is going to change their mind based on this post. Just something to think about.

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3 Responses

  1. If SPECTRE had been done as well as a film like Casino Royale I would be more than okay with a sort of Blofeld trilogy. I don’t feel like a remake of OHMSS would’ve been a good way to go though – they could’ve easily found a different way to lead into a proper YOLT novel adaptation without having Tracy, Irma Bunt, etc.

    I was thoroughly disappointed with SPECTRE though and would rather them just start of Bond 25 with a clean slate rather than try and tie together the bits of story left hanging at the end of SPECTRE. Go with something un-Blofeld related for Bond 25, give Craig his send off, and then re-introduce Blofeld in Bond 26 with a new Bond (and hopefully this time Blofeld is reintroduced properly).

    I doubt that happens though. They’ve seemingly gone all in with Waltz’ Blofeld and I doubt Bond 25 will be anything, but a follow up to SPECTRE.

  2. This is my rough idea for how YOLT should be loosely adapted. The pre-title sequence is Blofeld getting extracted by SPECTRE, with Hinx leading the group that breaks him out. After the titles, we open with Bond and Madeline in the DB5, with her driving. We get the drive by moment with Blofeld driving and Hinx shooting at them, causing the DB5 to collide. However, unlike in OHMSS, Madeline survives the attack. This causes a rift between the two, with Madeline believing that Bond can never truly escape his past life of murder and that she doesn’t want to be a part of it. Bond believes killing Bolfeld for good will ensure that the both of them will live a happy uninterrupted life, so he offers his services again to MI6 to track down Blofeld. That’s when the YOLT story loosely kicks in, finally getting to see Blofeld’s castle and the “Garden of Death” that should make for a very atmospheric setting on film. We even get to see a part of Blofeld that was only depicted in this book where he’s reached a kind of mania, trying to justify SPECTRE as a “humanitarian” group that the world needed. As the castle is burning down around them, Bond and Blofeld have a brutal fight that reaches the inevitable conclusion. Bond takes off via hot air balloon and eventually we’re at the hospital with Bond. Q is there to break the news that Bond is being offered a knighthood for his services, but Bond says he’ll turn it down valuing his anonymity. Bond and Madeline have a bittersweet breakup (the first for the films, as we only got it one time in the Fleming novels), Bond being the one who says it’s better for her sake.

    I’m sure there are others who have figured out their own take on the YOLT material that can work better. Honestly, I just want to see the “Garden of Death” finally get the big screen treatment and with SPECTRE having laid out a path for that to take place, I’m hopeful that we get something like that.

  3. @Jim: Perhaps. Here’s a different take. If we really want to do the Blofeld Trilogy, let’s just remake OHMSS and You Only Live Twice. As noted in the post, SPECTRE was intended to be a sort-of OHMSS remake. Let’s just stop pretending and go for it. Also, we take the “we never do a remake” off the talking points.

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