Blofeld: Why the character deserves fan admiration

Spoiler adverse should stop reading now.

Christoph Waltz in SPECTRE

By Gert Waterink, Guest Writer
Last week, the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye reported that Christoph Waltz, who played Blofeld in SPECTRE, would reprise the role in Bond 25.

I support Waltz’s return. Yes, SPECTRE wasn’t a masterpiece of a Bond film. Far from it. The foster brother plot element was far fetched and perceived as a forced effort to bring back a new kind of Blofeld.

Most Bond fans and general movie audiences didn’t buy it. Nor did they buy the rather convoluted scheme from SPECTRE to sell large amounts of intelligence data packed in a new intelligence IT system to its highest bidder: the British intelligence community.

Execution, Smart Writing
Still, Blofeld is alive and Bond’s links to that man and his heritage have compromised the British Secret Service.

The history of Daniel Craig’s Bond (young bloke in Casino Royale while being an orphan from Scotland in Skyfall) is in place. Some sense needs to be made out of that.

By completely ignoring those elements, you risk producing an adventure that doesn’t do justice to Bond as a a fully rounded character.

Turning Bond 25 into an action flick reminiscent of the last 007 films of Roger Moore and Sean Connery doesn’t work.

I find it plot wise more logical to do something with the radical (and badly executed) fact that a legendary Bond villain (Waltz’s Blofeld)  has been left alive with a broken leg and a bloody scar on his face.

Only now it must be executed better.  Blofeld’s return will admittedly be a precarious affair..

Anthony Dawson (with Eric Pohlman dubbing the voice)  played puppet master Blofeld in From Russia With Love and Thunderball.

His uncredited Blofeld managed to have a tiny amount of screen time, while at the same time being a pivotal plot device to the overall villainous scheme and infusing some much needed horror and scare to movie audiences.

Add to that James himself, who after retiring from M6 isn’t aware about Blofeld shaking and stirring a new and much better executed villain’s plot. A return of Blofeld can become more palatable for even the most orthodox Bond fan.

Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux at the end of SPECTRE.

Respect for an Antagonist
Apart from bringing back Blofeld, some fans should also try and find some love for a character that was, indeed, (co-)devised by Ian Fleming himself.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the books was the head of SPECTRE, but he introduced the character foremost to get out of too much political waters (an antagonist not bound to any nation has got its advantages).

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman found that admirable. They changed the plot of the cinematic adaptation of From Russia With Love in such a way that Russia wouldn’t be the prime aggressor.

Instead, it was Blofeld all along! He was, together with Kronsteen, the author of all that humiliation to James Bond! Ian Fleming eventually was very pleased with the film.

Blofeld: A ‘Push the Buttons’ Villain
There is also a larger-than-life quality to Blofeld that makes his actions more defensible than many fans would like to see.

Blofeld has weird psychotic traits. Blofeld is much more the man who acts out of sheer psychotic…..fun. Just revisit The Garden Of Death in Fleming’s novel You Only Live Twice, and we are back with both feet on the ground: the world of Bond isn’t that logical sometimes!

Even in the first Bond films, Blofeld was the man who took great pleasure in torturing and killing his adversaries in an all too theatrical way. Pressing a button here, drilling a little hole in Bond’s skull there: that’s Blofeld. But it was fun, entertaining and, admittedly, slightly gory. And Fleming knew that aspect too.

More Logic, Better Explanations
Yes, I think it’s pivotal to get rid of that bit of foster brother backstory. It turned Blofeld and Bond into two brotherly losers who could not stay professional within their own organisations: MI6 and SPECTRE.

Yet, I think it’s not a big problem to simply ignore that aspect while at the same time let Blofeld return with some of the aforementioned brilliance.

Let us also not forget that the prime villain of Bond 25 will be played by Rami Malek. So we should also not panic like headless chickens now Christoph Waltz has been seen at Pinewood Studios.

It is Rami Malek who gets more screen time in Bond 25. It is his role who probably devises an ingenious plot, which, rumour has it is about genetic warfare.

Such a scheme, and a hopefully rich performance by Rami Malek, will probably leave not too much space for more complicated revelations about Bond and Blofeld’s failed childhood.

Patience, Please
In any case, ignoring SPECTRE is one way to create a more critically acclaimed Bond film in cinemas as of next year. But there are more ways to Rome, more ways to produce a masterpiece of a Bond film.

So patience is a virtue too. Perhaps the Bond fan community should look into that a bit more often, so that we don’t write off a film before it’s even released.

Bond 25 questions: The SPOILER edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

If you haven’t guessed by the headline (where “SPOILER” is in all capital letters), this post has spoilers. If you’re spoiler adverse, scram. I don’t care how much shows up in the preview image on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

So, it seems pretty certain that Christoph Waltz will be in Bond 25 again playing the BROfeld version of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (i.e. Blofeld is Bond’s foster brother).

Naturally, the blog has a few questions.

Is this trip really necessary? Not really. But it seems as if Eon Productions and its army of screenwriters is going to double down on one of the worst aspects of 2015’s SPECTRE — namely that Waltz’s Blofeld was Bond’s foster brother and has a personal reason to torment Bond.

What would you have done? Ignore SPECTRE and move on with a new story. Instead, it would appear we will get a version of SPECTRE Part II. It won’t be called that, of course.

Are you serious? All we need now is a “reveal” that Dave Bautista’s Hinx will be back as Hinx, the lead henchman in SPECTRE. At this point, he might as well be. Remember, he appeared to be lobbying for that to happen.

It’d be natural for him to join Jeffrey Wright (last seen in a 007 film in Quantum of Solace) and Lea Seydoux (as Bond’s supposedly everlasting love). Hey, let’s have Eva Green (Vesper in Casino Royale) appear in a flashback sequence while we’re at it.

Any other thoughts? Yes. It’s perhaps time to finally dispense with the trope that the Daniel Craig Bond films are the “closest” to Ian Fleming.

Craig started out with Casino Royale, based on Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel. Since then, we’ve seen the death of Mathis (not in a Fleming book).

Mathis may have been a double agent (at least that’s the implication of his Quantum of Solace death scene), which wasn’t in any Fleming book.

And, of course, we have Blofeld/BRO-feld as Bond’s foster brother in SPECTRE, which wasn’t in any Fleming book.

Even if you love all these films, they’re not what Fleming had in mind. Bond 25 may end up an entertaining film. (That’s my inner optimist speaking out). Just don’t bring Fleming into the discussion.

Any suggestions for Bond 25? Perhaps some new character could “reveal” that himself (or herself) was the real Blofeld all along and the “foster brother” nonsense was a way to mess with Bond’s mind. But I wouldn’t go banco on that.

Familiar face to return for Bond 25, Baz says

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

If you haven’t guessed, this is a spoiler. I even wrote the headline to not give it away. So scram if you don’t like spoilers.

SPACE….OK….

Christoph Waltz will again play Blofeld in Bond 25, the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye said on Twitter.

Waltz played Blofeld in 2015’s SPECTRE.

Exclusive:Hello Mr Waltz… we’ve been expecting you.#ChristophWaltz is back as #Blofeld in ⁦@007 #Bond25 , shooting scenes at Pinewood studios,” Bamigboye wrote . “When a visitor spotted him , Waltz insisted , ‘You haven’t seen me.'”

Bamigboye had a number of scoops proven correct on Skyfall and SPECTRE. He has been relatively quiet on Bond 25.

Bamigboye also is not the first scribe to say Waltz was returning as Blofeld. Rodrigo Perez, editor of The Playlist, said as such in an April 25 tweet.

Perez was the first to report that Scott Z. Burns had been employed as a Bond 25 screenwriter. That was confirmed in the late April “reveal” event Eon Productions had in late April.

Waltz said in 2017 he wouldn’t be back as Blofeld. Then again, he originally said he wasn’t playing Blofeld in SPECTRE.

As I write this, Bamigboye only has his tweet out. The post will be updated if and when the Mail posts a story.

Here’s Bamigboye’s tweet:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

UPDATE (8:20 p.m. New York time): Rodrigo Perez of The Playlist does a victory lap.

There was more and something I revealed on The Words Are Not Enough podcast ‏—a 007 podcast run by Playlister Griffin Schiller and pal Brody Serravalli—back in April: Christoph Waltz would be returning to the series and reprising his role as Blofeld. Tonight that’s been confirmed by trusted U.K. writer Baz Bamigboye.

Personally, I find it odd that Perez wrote about Waltz on Twitter and mentioned it on a podcast but never got around to doing a story. “Twitter scoop I shoulda posted as a story long ago, but life got in the way and I’m way too exhausted now,” he wrote in that April 25 tweet linked above.

Anyway, since we’re in spoiler territory, Perez adds this in tonight’s story.

” I’ve heard that Blofeld returns in a kind of “Silence Of The Lambs”-like appearance; Clarice Starling (in this case Lea Seydoux), visiting him in prison and trying to mine him for information about (Rami) Malek’s sadistic character.”

“I’ve heard” isn’t the strongest attribution. Heard according to people associated with the production? You can still provide an idea of how strong your information is without identifying your sources. But all the story provides is “I’ve heard.”

UPDATE II (10:15 p.m.): Bamigboye’s story was posted by the Daily Mail earlier in the evening.  Here’s an excerpt:

Waltz’s involvement as Blofeld has been kept top secret . . . until now. When visitors to the set spotted him, the Austrian-born star put a finger to his lips and in hushed tones told them: ‘You haven’t seen me. I’m not here.’

An executive on the film told me: ‘There’s unfinished business between Bond and Blofeld. If I told you any more, I’d have to kill you.’ That may not even have been a joke.

As noted above, it hasn’t been top secret “until now.” And once again, we get a variation on the “I can’t tell you or I’d have to kill you” cliche. Whatever.

The scribe did add one tidbit: “Extra post-production technicians and other experts have been drafted in to ensure that Bond 25 makes its scheduled April 3 release date next year.”

Why it may be time for Eon to modernize its P.R.

Eon Productions logo

You are making a major action-adventure film. Your star injures himself. What do you do?

If you’re making Mission: Impossible-Fallout, you get ahead of the story. Your writer-director Christopher McQuarrie gives an interview to Empire magazine to explain how things are under control even though star Tom Cruise broke his ankle.

Confirming that Cruise had broken his right ankle, McQuarrie assured Empire that his star remained in good shape, in spite of his injury. “Tom is great,” McQuarrie said. “He’s in very good spirits.”

Meanwhile, if you’re Eon Productions and your star, Daniel Craig, has suffered (apparently) a lesser injury, you stay quiet.

This week, The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. tabloid, ran a story about how Craig hurt his ankle during Bond 25 filming. Other outlets summarized The Sun’s story, including Variety.

Throughout all this, there was no word from Eon, which has produced the 007 film series since 1962.

Finally, after about 24 hours, The Sun produced a follow-up story saying Craig’s injury wasn’t that bad and he’ll be back at work in a week or so.

Still, for that 24 hour period, others were dictating the Bond 25 story line to the general public.

The thing is, this is par for the course. Eon has a history of denying things that are true such as Ben Whishaw being cast as Q, Naomie Harris being cast as Moneypenny, John Logan being hired to write Bond 24 and 25 (before things changed), Christoph Waltz being cast as Blofeld and so on and so forth.

For that matter, Eon spun a fairy tale in the 1970s that Roger Moore was always the first choice (rather than Sean Connery) to play Bond. For that matter, in the 1980s, Eon’s principals said with a straight face that Pierce Brosnan had never been signed to play Bond and Timothy Dalton was always its first choice to succeed Roger Moore as 007.

We’re now almost one-fifth into the 21st century. Things change. What worked in the past, doesn’t necessarily work now.

You need a communications strategy where your viewpoint is made clear and plain at all times. If you’re making a movie that costs more than $200 million, you can’t be passive.

Truth be told, a big chunk of the 007 fan base acts as if this is still 1965 and Bond is the biggest thing on the planet. There are times that Eon appears to believe the same thing.

Whatever you believe, you can’t be passive in an age where social media helps shape the perception of your product. For one 24-hour period this week, Bond fans genuinely were wondering what was going on.

With silence from Eon, the notion that Craig suffered an injury serious enough to affect Bond 25 filming began to take hold.

This particular dust-up already is fading. But it still points to the need for a more pro-active public relations approach.

Lea Seydoux will be in Bond 25, Bamigboye says

Lea Seydoux with Daniel Craig in a SPECTRE poster.

Lea Seydoux, the female lead in 2015’s SPECTRE, will be in Bond 25, the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye reported, citing comments from director Cary Fukunaga.

The key excerpt:

Bond star Daniel Craig wanted her back — and so did film-maker Cary Joji Fukunaga, who will be directing his first Bond picture.

Fukunaga told me exclusively that ‘Lea will be returning’; as will regulars Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris.

The news undoubtedly will revive speculation that Bond 25’s plot will be similar to the Ian Fleming novels On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice.

In the OHMSS novel, Bond marries Tracy, who is killed at the end. The 1969 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service film replicated that. In the You Only Live Twice novel, Bond has fallen apart. He’s about to be fired from the British Secret Service. He’s given a “last chance” mission that puts him on the trail of Blofeld, now in Japan having established a “garden of death” for suicide-inclined Japanese.

SPECTRE (kind-of, sort-of) was a bit of an OHMSS remake. While Seydoux’s character had a different name (Madeline Swann), she was apparently intended as Tracy 2.0. In a Dec. 1, 2014 draft of the script, Bond event tells her at the end, “We have all the time in the world.” The line was cut from the final film.

Bamigboye’s report doesn’t get into such details. The obvious question is whether Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld from SPECTRE will also return.

Bond 25: The post-Waltz (?) edition

So, actor Christoph Waltz says he won’t be in Bond 25 after playing Blofeld in SPECTRE. Naturally the blog has some questions.

Does he mean it? That’s an appropriate question that can’t really be answered right now.

Waltz, after all, repeatedly denied he was playing Blofeld in SPECTRE.

Also, this decade, Naomie Haris denied she was playing Moneypenny in Skyfall. And, of course, it was revealed in the final scene she was. Thus, comments from actors tend to require the appropriate dosage of salt.

If Waltz really is gone, what does it mean? One possibility: “Waltz seems to be saying Blofeld will be back in Bond 25, but with a new actor in the role,” writes Philip Nobile Jr. of Birth.Movies.Death. (He also notes the possibility that Waltz may have been fibbing again.)

Another possibility is Blofeld’s not in Bond 25, that the movie will be a one-off adventure.

Initially, Skyfall was a one-off not directly died to the preceding installment, Quantum of Solace. Skyfall’s villain, Silva (Javier Bardem) was after revenge against Judi Dench’s M.

In the writing stages of SPECTRE, the creative team decided on a creative arc that would tie all of the Daniel Craig films together. Having secured the rights to the Blofeld character, SPECTRE specified that Blofeld was “the author of all your pain” for Bond.

Prior to the Craig films, the 007 series was light on continuity. You had occasional references to previous films but it wasn’t a major priority. That changed when Eon Productions opted to make Quantum a “direct sequel” of 2006’s Casino Royale.

We’ll see. For now, Bond 25 has no director. Whatever work has been done on a story will likely be reworked once a director is on board.

Waltz says he won’t be in Bond 25

Bond 25 unofficial logo 2
Actor Christoph Waltz, who played Blofeld in SPECTRE, said he won’t be returning for Bond 25.

He was interviewed briefly at the Festa del Cinema di Roma and the it was posted on the Facebook page of Talky Movie.

“No,” Waltz replied when asked specifically if he would be in Bond 25. “No, I’m really sad. But that’s the tradition…I would have liked to.”

Potential caveat: Waltz denied he was playing Blofeld more than once before that movie was released in 2015.

Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer have announced a 2019 release date for Bond 25. But, at the moment, there’s no distributor in place to actually get the film into theaters.

The Archivo 007 website reported this earlier. I spotted because of a post on Twitter by @Bond25Film.

To view the Talky Movie video of Waltz, CLICK HERE.