Did M need to die in Skyfall?

edited February 16 in Skyfall Posts: 200
This is something I have wondered about at times. I have seen some fans claim that M dying was necessary for the story being told in Skyfall (particularly the idea that she "deserved" to die or to be sacrificed due to all the mistakes she's made), and I can see that POV. On the other hand, I know some people don't care for the ending - Anthony Horowitz in particular lamented: "The villain wins. The villain sets out to kill M. The film finishes with the villain killing M. So why have I watched it?"

I personally don't care much for M dying - the development kind of turns Skyfall into a Very Special Bond Film, you know, the one we all remember as The One Where M Dies. The event gives M a bigger role in the story than the character needs (these are Bond films, not M films), and it's hard to see how either Bond or M have won the day at film's end. I also think it was unnecessary to kill off another female character for the sake of adding to Bond's man pain (this happened with Craig once already in CR).

So could Skyfall have worked without killing off M? Here's how I personally think it could have worked: M is injured and uses the opportunity to fake her death, giving her an opportunity to leave the spy game and let Mallory take over as M. This would be a symbolic "death" - M's disappearance would echo Bond's disappearance in Turkey, and the film would get a happy ending.

Sequence of events would be something like... M is injured, bleeding out at church / MI6 agents arrive at Skyfall in helicopter / Fade to black, suggesting M has died / Cut to Bond on a deserted airport tarmac at dawn / Car pulls up, driven by Moneypenny, M exits / Bond says "Not many of us get to leave this cleanly," M gives bulldog statue to Bond, says goodbye / M boards a plane that flies away. Then cut to MI6 where we see Moneypenny in her office and Mallory in his new position. Film ends as usual.

What do you think of this idea? Would you enjoy Skyfall more if M lived? Or do you think M dying is an essential part of the story?
«1

Comments

  • I think skyfall had the worst story of any bond film ever
  • fire_and_icefire_and_ice Save Martha
    Posts: 5,491
    In the context of the film it needed to happen to fulfill the Greek tragedy Mendes was playing out, I am not a fan of the film though I know what Mendes was attempting.
  • In her role as M from GE through to her final act in SF, Dame Judy Dench was from my perspective a fantastic performance. It was surprising that she would accept the role but as the great actress that she is, she filled the screen. As a fan of classic theater including Greek Drama, her death scene was befitting an actress of her quality and skill. Since she was retiring it was a great way to end her character, and of course her afterlife reprisal in SP was great fun. SF was a nice change of pace from the standard kiss, kiss bang, bang Bond movies, and while a risky move by the producers, it never hurts to get out of the established and ritualized comfort zone.
  • echoecho Piz Gloria, I hope you enjoy it.
    Posts: 2,072
    I like the idea of changing Ms in a film so it was okay by me. In a way it was very Prisoner-like.
  • I'd have been okay with Judi's M faking her death, but yes, for thematic reasons she needed to suffer some sort of death by the end of this story.
  • Posts: 5
    Personally, I was disappointed by the route that Skyfall went down. Prior to the film’s release I had developed a very strong feeling from the trailers that M would die. The version that played out in my head had Bond having to kill her in cold blood because her position had been compromised. In so doing it would demonstrate how cold and ruthless he really is, putting the interests of Queen and Country above those of personal loyalties. I was left disappointed – what played out was I felt the stuff of a soap opera.
  • suavejmfsuavejmf England
    Posts: 2,635
    Yes. She needs to go so we can have the traditional M back.
  • SeanCraigSeanCraig Germany
    Posts: 198
    IMHO it was necessary for the story Skyfall set to tell about Bond. And maybe it was about time to pass the torch to a new M anyway - a good choice has been made for the new M and how he was introduced.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Twitter: @Dragonpol, Writer @ The Bondologist Blog: http://www.thebondologistblog.blogspot.co.uk
    Posts: 9,374
    suavejmf said:

    Yes. She needs to go so we can have the traditional M back.

    That's certainly one way of looking at it! :D
  • barryt007barryt007 Kicking Kara 'brain dead' Milovy off the top of a Big Wheel
    edited February 17 Posts: 6,098
    I'm fine with how it went,and they didn't overplay the death scene,it was quite brief and not too melodramatic.

    I mean,who else gets to say "I've fu**ed things up,havent I ? " in a Bond film and gets away without public outcry !!
  • Posts: 200

    SF was a nice change of pace from the standard kiss, kiss bang, bang Bond movies, and while a risky move by the producers, it never hurts to get out of the established and ritualized comfort zone.

    True.

    I'd have been okay with Judi's M faking her death, but yes, for thematic reasons she needed to suffer some sort of death by the end of this story.

    Do you think it would have been enough if M had been willing to go to her death (as in the released film), but not died? Or is that not quite the same thing?
    hitmonk said:

    The version that played out in my head had Bond having to kill her in cold blood because her position had been compromised. In so doing it would demonstrate how cold and ruthless he really is, putting the interests of Queen and Country above those of personal loyalties.

    Sounds pretty brutal!
    suavejmf said:

    Yes. She needs to go so we can have the traditional M back.

    Well sure, but that doesn't necessarily mean she needs to die. She was retiring in the film anyway.
  • ShardlakeShardlake Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 2,158
    Yes, I think SF is terrific a one off definitely in what it did and we don't need to go there again and the personal angle should have met it's limit there.

    Unfortunately Mendes came back and wanted to mine this even further and we got one of the worst films of the series because of it, he only had one Bond film in him and to me it was a great film one of the best but it's follow up is a complete travesty.

    I thought they dealt with Dench's M brilliantly, maybe the humour was a little ill advised but Judi and Daniel knocked it out the park, a real highlight of the series for me.

    I understand in the community its not a popular view but SF was for me more than I could have expected it to be despite it's flaws.
  • bondjamesbondjames Some men are coming to kill us. We're going to kill them first.
    Posts: 12,313
    I was ok with Dench's M being killed off in SF. I think they handled it quite well.
    barryt007 said:

    I'm fine with how it went,and they didn't overplay the death scene,it was quite brief and not too melodramatic.

    Agreed.

    The only thing I would have changed is Bond crying, as I've mentioned on another thread. Small peeve, but on the whole it was handled quite nicely.

    @Milovy, I don't mind your alternate ending either, but as has been mentioned by others, Mendes needed/wanted his pathos, and I recall reading somewhere that M biting it was one of his preconditions for taking on SF.
  • edited February 18 Posts: 1,961
    SF is a dark film and the Batman type themes are there.
    There is nothing darker than death so, IMHO, it completely fits the tone and themes of the movie.
    I'm biased as I love sad endings and many people do. Remember Wrath of Khan?
    PS killing major characters takes guts from the screenwriter and, to me, saving M and having a happy ending would have been a bit of a cop out. There are so many movies that bottle it and go for that ending and a few classic movies that fully commit to the narative and end with a death scene. I suppose the issue with M's death is that it results in Bond's mission ending in failure but this is something that only really hits you after you see the film. Whilst watching it, the execution is so good that you are "locked in" to the scene.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 63
    M's death is better for the story. It's an important point that she stuck around long enough that the hard decisions she made, however sound they were at the time, came back to haunt her. And that she was pulled into the dangerous world her own agents suffered through while she was relatively safe at MI6 or her flat. Doing the right thing has a price.

    Embroiled in failure and scandal after many years of fine service, events (and death) gave her the honorable exit she deserved.

    Real world for the film production, controlling Judi Dench's exit from the role was very smart and very well done, right down to a passing of the torch.
    image
  • edited February 18 Posts: 1,961
    Just to continue the Wrath of Khan comparison, to be completely accurate, niether ends on the death scene : we get a period on contempation (roof scene and funeral) and then a look to an optimitic future ("I fell young" - "With pleasure, M, with pleasure"), these are classic screenwrting methods to quickly change the mood so, as the credits role, the audience are not left completely deflated and already looking forward to the next thrilling episode.
    PS plus Wrath of Khan used the clever trick of the Nimoy voice over right at the end to show that he was still us in our memories ( "He's not really dead. As long as we remember him.") and I always thought they should have stollen this idea in SF with Dench doing a voice over for the Tennyson poem as Bond stands on the roof.
  • bondjamesbondjames Some men are coming to kill us. We're going to kill them first.
    edited February 18 Posts: 12,313
    patb said:

    Just to continue the Wrath of Khan comparison, to be completely accurate, niether ends on the death scene : we get a period on contempation (roof scene and funeral) and then a look to an optimitic future ("I fell young" - "With pleasure, M, with pleasure"), these are classic screenwrting methods to quickly change the mood so, as the credits role, the audience are not left completely deflated and already looking forward to the next thrilling episode.
    PS plus Wrath of Khan used the clever trick of the Nimoy voice over right at the end to show that he was still us in our memories ( "He's not really dead. As long as we remember him.") and I always thought they should have stollen this idea in SF with Dench doing a voice over for the Tennyson poem as Bond stands on the roof.

    I fully agree on their technique. It was obvious to me and I liked the way SF ended. I was really pumped for the franchise and for Bond, as I'm sure many others were. Bring on the next 50 years, I said! Sadly, what followed didn't live up to that promise.

    I don't quite agree on a Dench voiceover though. I think that might have been a bit heavy handed for this kind of franchise. More 'Brando' from Supes or 'Obi Wan' from SW. It would have possibly reinforced the 'mother' trope as well.
  • Posts: 1,961
    That last scene in SF is pretty unusual (happy to be corrected) , "pumped" is exactly the right description and much more dramatic, inspiring and emotional compared to Bond bonking a Bond girl.
    "With pleasure, M, with pleasure" must rank among the best last lines of any Bond (another idea for a thread?)
  • bondjamesbondjames Some men are coming to kill us. We're going to kill them first.
    Posts: 12,313
    patb said:

    "With pleasure, M, with pleasure" must rank among the best last lines of any Bond

    Absolutely love that line, and Craig delivered it with old school perfection. Loved the enthusiasm he showed there too.
  • Posts: 1,961
    And going back to the original point, it carries more weight as it implies "yes , I am over (or getting over ) Dench's death and ready to shoot more bad guys" rather than "I'm so relieved that Dench is OK and enjoying a happy retirement"
    It shows/confirms a resilient and tough side to Bond's character which would have been lost if Dench had survived.
  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Posts: 1,431
    bondjames said:

    patb said:

    "With pleasure, M, with pleasure" must rank among the best last lines of any Bond

    Absolutely love that line, and Craig delivered it with old school perfection. Loved the enthusiasm he showed there too.
    So did I.

    Too bad SPECTRE threw that in the toilet.
  • Posts: 5,758
    For me the death of M felt like the villain won and 007 should have stayed away without him the outcome would have been the same. Now he is responsible for her dead and leaves him looking like a dick. It would have been better having M and 007 tricking Silva and taking his price away from him, but M being tired of sending agents to their deaths taking a bow out of the active service.

    For me SF was way to full of daft plotholes that Mendes must have seen but never cared explaining of solving. It felt being spit in the face by a pretentious director and he f*cked the franchise a wee bit more with the next installment. If EON in their wisdom decide to return Mendes one more time I just want them to sell to Disney and we most probable get a decent return to well written and fun movies.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 63
    To me Silva does not get what he wants: to see M die at his hands. And with literally the final knife in the back from MI6, he dies himself knowing he failed at the task he obsessed over.

    Bond wins, he was proven right to take Silva out of his element and change the game. M confronts the demon from her past, instead of letting others continue to be victim to him. In death M regains honor and dignity. It's fitting and done for a reason.
    image
  • Posts: 5,758
    Really Bond wins because M dies and Silva loses because he did not do it but caused it.

    I guess common sense also prevailed when the US chose a certain new President who fancies alternative facts too.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 63
    Gosh. If you're looking for Bond to fail surely you'll see it.

    That's not how the film was presented.
  • Posts: 5,758

    Gosh. If you're looking for Bond to fail surely you'll see it.

    That's not how the film was presented.

    Sure but he failed her because she died, I would guess his job was protecting her and not getting her killed. He failed in doing that.

  • I side with @RichardtheBruce here. Silva loses because he does not see M die at his hands; he dies instead at the hand of her chosen agent, Bond. If she had lived she'd have had nothing to face but the disgrace of endless inquisitions by politicians and the press. She passes after Silva, thus robbing him of his only desire. That she passes at all would not have distressed her as long as she can pass having cleared the table of the threat presented by Silva. "Bond's job" was not protecting M, it was protecting MI-6 and his fellow agents. He succeeds in that goal, and the film ends with a clear re-set. New M, new Moneypenny, same old Bond. In the modern world of endless shades of grey rather than stark blacks and whites, it's about the closest one comes to victory rather than defeat.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 63
    With those thoughts, I'd add that William Wallace in BRAVEHEART didn't fail. Johnny Smith in THE DEAD ZONE didn't fail. Alex Cutter in CUTTER AND BONE didn't fail. And Sam Lowry in BRAZIL didn't fail.

    That's not the parting message for those films.
    image
  • SaintMark said:

    Gosh. If you're looking for Bond to fail surely you'll see it.

    That's not how the film was presented.

    Sure but he failed her because she died, I would guess his job was protecting her and not getting her killed. He failed in doing that.

    Not quite. She knew the risks. His job was to localise the threat that was Silva, and lure him in. The very idea behind her saying "just us" is that she didn't want any more collateral damage.
  • ShardlakeShardlake Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
    edited February 19 Posts: 2,158
    I took it has a victory for Bond & MI6, yes bitter sweet because M dies but from the beginning there was no other way this was going.

    Yes I knew Dench was going to die due to the press leaking it but as soon as we have the meeting between Mallory & M I thought you can see where this is going.

    Like CR we have big emotional climax that ends with an important death but like that we get a triumphant DC as Bond accepting his new mission from his new boss to sign it off like we the White moment and the first time DC says the line, no SF doesn't have same amount of excitement as CR's end but it's still makes me pump my fist.

    Although like some have already said, I was hugely excited for that excitement to be seriously deflated with what Mendes did next.

    SF allowed them to reset then SP painted the era into a wall plain and simple, where we go from there is anybody guess.
Sign In or Register to comment.