A Rambling Discourse
NOV 01, 2013
Having made films I feel were not entirely understood or appreciated upon their initial release (or ever, even), I have a soft spot—about two inches in diameter, just below my right armpit—for films that endured a similar fate. In this case, I believe Peter Hunt made a great Bond film that wasn’t considered great when it came out.
For me there’s no question that cinematically ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE is the best Bond film and the only one worth watching repeatedly for reasons other than pure entertainment (certainly it’s the only Bond film I look at and think: I’m stealing that shit). Shot to shot, this movie is beautiful in a way none of the other Bond films are—the anamorphic compositions are relentlessly arresting—and the editing patterns of the action sequences are totally bananas; it’s like Peter Hunt (who cut the first five Bond films) took all the ideas of the French new wave and blended them with Eisenstein in a Cuisinart to create a grammar that still tops today’s how fast can you cut aesthetic, because the difference here is that each of the shots—no matter how short—are real shots, not just additional coverage from the hosing-it-down school of action, so there is a unification of the aesthetic of the first unit and the second unit that doesn’t exist in any other Bond film. And, speaking of action, there are as many big set pieces in OHMSS as any Bond film ever made, and if that weren’t enough, there’s a great score by John Barry, some really striking sound work, and what can you say about Diana Rigg that doesn’t start with the word WOW?
So what’s wrong with it? George Lazenby, but not for the reasons you might think. I actually like him—a lot—and think he could have made a terrific Bond had he continued (allegedly he decided before the shoot was over he would only play the part once). What seems obvious to me, though, is no one was helping him during the shoot or the edit (they won’t even let him finish a fucking sentence onscreen). It feels like everyone was so focused on what he wasn’t (Sean Connery) that they didn’t take the time to figure out what he was (a cool-looking dude with genuine presence and great physicality). For instance, they should have known that a lot of the one-liners that would have worked with Connery don’t work with Lazenby. This isn’t because he’s bad, it’s because his entire affect is different, less glib. This, to me, is a lack of sensitivity and understanding on the part of the filmmakers and not a shortcoming of the lead actor, because Lazenby has one thing you can’t fake, which is a certain kind of gravitas. Despite this, there is no attempt to bring it out or amplify it, which is a huge missed opportunity. Also, Lazenby has a vulnerability that Connery never had—there are scenes in which he looks legitimately terrified and others in which he convinces us that he is in love with Tracy (particularly in the final scene), which brings us to another reason OHMSS is so distinctive—it’s the only Bond film with a female character that isn’t a cartoon, and the only film in which Bond is so completely frustrated with his bosses he wants and tries to quit. In fact, everything about the film suggests a reboot before the idea of rebooting was even in the air, much less fashionable (especially the ending, which you could never get away with today).
Another (albeit small) problem for me is the cheesiness of the process shots in all of the action sequences, particularly the skiing stuff. Again, the editing patterns in these sequences are so stunning I’m able to disregard the VFX and appreciate what Peter Hunt was trying to do, but man, they are really cheesy.
The third problem is the film is too fucking long, the longest Bond film until Casino Royale nearly three decades later. One huge trim should have been made, from 1:06:00 to 1:14:45. No new narrative information is transmitted in this section, it’s just Bond screwing chicks and stuff we learn eventually in other scenes. Also, later on, I’m not sure of the efficacy of Blofeld locking Bond in an engine room with a pretty obvious escape route, but I guess that’s what was handy.
Obviously none of these quibbles affect my love for the film, and I am far from the first person to champion its many merits (the film now regularly scores quite high in the Bond fan polls). I just thought it was about time I memorialized my feelings, given the fact I have an autographed picture of Lazenby as Bond in my house.
Ladies & Gentleman, the clock is ticking: only ONE WEEK left to vote for our short film entry ‘Flitterwochen’ in the competition for the audience award category of Swiss Hotel Film Award 2013. Please VOTE and feel free to SHARE if you enjoyed the film:http://www.swisshotelfilmaward.ch/de/award-2013/publikumsvoting?order=title&id=292— mit Heike Metz und 7 weitere Personen.
just regaining energy again. I had one of the most remarkable, sleepless and most wonderful filming weekend experience (as director) in switzerland with an incredible, amazing, passionate and high end motivated crew, you can only dream of!
The filming took place in the context of the Swiss Hotel Film Award 2013.
Among 20 screenplay nominees we are nominated for the screenplay ‘Honeymoon’ written by Heike Metz.
The goal is to produce a max. 5 minute short film, at an swiss hotel of your choice, filming in just 2 days time, no one second more.
Now I am starting editing right now! What a joy to work with this amazing 5K RED footage!
I absolutely agree with Danny Boyles message about movies created for the cinema these days. keep it up & age sophisticated!
I adore the human portrayal of Bier’s characters in her films. They are so layered, rich, emotional, colorful in every aspect and just believable authentic.
Must see films by Susanne Bier IMO: ‘After Wedding’, ‘In a better world’ and ‘Love is all you need’
I still love how this video turned out, when we made it back in summer 2011! I wasn’t convinced at that time that it was a clever idea that we produced it with a dslr cam, where I had to pull the focus, do the framing, finding the right actions of these volunteering dancing people at once. I was worried about the shaky result. It was on the fly decided what to do. We just had a rough simple choreography, limited time and people from the street, among them surprisingly many talented amateurs. It was intense but at the same time so much fun to make. In the edit, I was quite relieved with what we have got, and just fun to match the music to this people’s movements. That’s why I thought it might be fun to share.
Peter Samuelson, interviewer. 29 April 2010.
… not just inspirational, maybe even life changing? never stop asking, admiring or just learning from others about yourself to enrich your life. - without egocentric needs. Seems difficult to achieve in these times & in this society?!
I appreciate a lot of these thoughtful inputs! Thanks Mr. Fry!
Bon Appétit Skyfall & 007 fans! Check out the short “SKYFALL - Appetizer” special montage, made in the right time for the blu-ray release of the 50th anniversary Bond hit!
enjoyed making this movie montage promo!
a simple TV promo for PULS 4 ‘s NFL sunday night. directed & edited by Tom Waldek