Old Media

September 20, 2013
Has Bond ever been this beautiful?

Has Bond ever been this beautiful?

This is the end
Hold your breath and count to ten
Feel the earth move and then
Hear my heart burst again

There’s still life in the old boy.

The Skyfall Blu Ray disc sat beside the television set for two months, as I was unaware until tonight that it was the best Bond film in decades. Daniel Craig revived the James Bond franchise back in 2006 with a very serious take on Casino Royale, the Ian Fleming novel which got away from Broccoli and was a spoof back before I was potty trained. While it was invigorating to have a more vulnerable and gritty Bond, I found the film’s plot murky and the subsequent Quantum of Solace in 2008 a violent disappointment. So I didn’t make it to the cinema for Skyfall and took my sweet time about watching it on disc. But when I finally popped it in the player, I was in for a treat.

But I struggled with the Blu Ray disc, which wanted to bore me with mandatory previews and, of all things, a ludicrous commercial about Blu Ray disc features. Hey Columbia, disabling the menu and skip commands during previews and other unwanted junk is hardly a selling point for Blu Ray, especially when the disc lacks even rudimentary features like a director’s commentary and behind-the-scenes documentary. I finally had to resort to fast-forwarding through one piece of junk after another to get to the movie.

I was even more annoyed by a disc error which rendered a few minutes of the movie unwatchable. As I wrestled with the technology, I wished Hollywood would stop gouging me and put this film, which premiered almost a year ago, on the streaming services. Even better, throw in an option to stream a commentary and related documentaries. Eventually the physical discs will die out as bandwidth improves and younger viewers refuse to use optical media. But those days are not here yet.

Beautiful backdrop for assassin vs. assassin

Beautiful backdrop for assassin vs. assassin

One reason I still tolerate Blu Ray is the image quality, and thankfully Eon Production’s 23rd Bond film takes full advantage of it. Sam Mendes’ direction was superb and he made the most of a couple of visually stunning nighttime set pieces in Shanghai and an imagined Macao. Ridley Scott’s Los Angeles of Blade Runner has come to life, but 6500 miles to the west.

Blade Runner's Los Angeles has appeared 6500 miles to the west

Blade Runner’s Los Angeles has appeared 6500 miles to the west in Skyfall’s Shangai

Early Bond films had legendary theme songs and titles, and Adele’s entry for Skyfall is top notch, married to a great title sequence which gives nods to some of Mendes’ most beautiful imagery. I hadn’t enjoyed a Bond title sequence so much since Goldeneye back in 1995, with its wonderful imagery of the collapse of Soviet Russia and its iconography.

Even better, the film gave some meaningful back story for Bond and was a great final bow for Judi Dench’s groundbreaking portrayal of M, with excellent supporting work from Ralph Fiennes and the grand old Albert Finney. The villain had some great scenes, and the film was replete with homages to the past 50 years of the franchise without seeming stale or too campy.

But what I enjoyed most was the melancholy air about the film, its bleak portrayal of a Bond whose vices and age are catching up with him. I have been feeling my age this week, having aggravated my problematic lower back, and the film’s references to 50 years of Bond films reminded me that I’ll be 50 myself in a few years. Strangely enough, the rather bleak Skyfall gives me hope: it reminds me that there is still quite a bit of fight left in us both.

“Skyfall”

This is the end
Hold your breath and count to ten
Feel the earth move and then
Hear my heart burst again

For this is the end
I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment
So overdue I owe them
Swept away, I’m stolen

Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
At skyfall
That skyfall

Skyfall is where we start
A thousand miles and poles apart
Where worlds collide and days are dark
You may have my number, you can take my name
But you’ll never have my heartLet the sky fall (let the sky fall)
When it crumbles (when it crumbles)
We will stand tall (we will stand tall)
Face it all togetherLet the sky fall (let the sky fall)
When it crumbles (when it crumbles)
We will stand tall (we will stand tall)
Face it all together
At skyfall

(Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall)

Where you go I go
What you see I see
I know I’d never be me
Without the security
Of your loving arms
Keeping me from harm
Put your hand in my hand
And we’ll stand

Let the sky fall (let the sky fall)
When it crumbles (when it crumbles)
We will stand tall (we will stand tall)
Face it all together

Let the sky fall (let the sky fall)
When it crumbles (when it crumbles)
We will stand tall (we will stand tall)
Face it all together
At skyfall

Let the sky fall
We will stand tall
At skyfall
Oh

About Granger Meador

I enjoy day hikes, photography, podcasts, reading, web design, and technology. My wife, Wendy, and I work in the Bartlesville Public Schools in northeast Oklahoma, but this blog is outside the scope of our employment.
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