Let's talk about Spectre's torture scene

I think this scene deserves it's own thread.

Soo....what did we think?

I've seen the film a few times and for me it's really the most unusual sequence in the film. It feels kinda tacked on and a little unwelcome. Firstly, let's start with the staging and camerawork. The actual cinematography and set-design are a little flat. It almost feels like the sequence was hurried together quickly as an afterthought. Also the strange dentist chair felt like it was deliberately trying to be a more high-tech reimagining of the low-fi torture scene in CR. Only this time complete with a dodgy CGI drill.

The surprising thing is that every time I've seen the film people seem to genuinely be squirming in their seats during it. The woman next to me on Friday was covering her mouth and jumping every time the drill went in. Why doesn't this scene have the same impact on me? Is it because it's poorly staged? Or is the issue deeper-seated? Maybe it has something to do with the lack of drama in the plot? Or the film's failure to build Oberhauser up as a credible bad guy by that point?

Also, it feels like a total wasted opportunity to lobotmise James Bond only 2 minutes later to have him completely recover and shoot up Oberhauser's entire lair. This guy just had a drill in his [email protected]*@king brain!!!! He should be mess, it would have been so much more effective to have him make mistakes during that shoot-up (still being competent but maybe passing out and struggling to keep up - Craig's Bond is all about vulnerability after all), it would have allowed Madeline to pick up the pace and actually protect Bond, she should have blown up the compound! She knows how to use a gun and I'm sure her Dad would have taught her a thing or two. It would have increased our emotional attachment to her if she protected Bond.

Additionally, there is probably the most ham-fisted piece of dialogue during the torture scene from Oberhauser when he says something like "the daughter of an assassin, the only one who could understand you" - talk about on the nose. Whatever happened to the subtlety and nuance of SF?

Thoughts?
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Comments

  • PropertyOfALadyPropertyOfALady Colders Federation CEO
    Posts: 3,488
    I think it did its job just fine. It made me cringe. I think that's what they were going for.
  • ThomasCrown76ThomasCrown76 Augusta, ks
    Posts: 757
    I liked it quite a bit. The movie was great. Can't wait to see it again
  • Posts: 2,341
    freaked me out. Not since Marathon Man back in 1977 have any torture scene made me grimace so much.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 29,587
    I loved MARATHON MAN. Much of the dialogue in SPECTRE's torture scene was lifted from Kingsley Amis's continuation Bond novel, COLONEL SUN (the torture itself is similar, as well). Hence his estate is thanked in the closing credits.
  • I found it very unsettling. I think it was the methodical way it was handled, the brightly lit room, the way they were sat watching, as if they were attending some lecture or presentation. It affected me a lot more than the CR torture.
    When I got home I re-read the torture part of the Colonel Sun book, and was surprised to see the dialogue was lifted directly. The first time they've used none-Fleming movie material so obviously and directly. The words you hear Waltz saying as Bond comes around, are a direct lift.
    So yea, I thought it was very well done indeed. My palms were sweating when the second drill started. Eeeuugh!
  • @Pierce2Daniel: I agree completely with you on this scene. It felt weird and out of place and not in a good way, like I was suddenly watching a different movie. The scene choices were odd too, like how it shows the lizard in the window right before the cat. Why the two animals at once? Doesn't that take away from the shock value of the cat?
    And the same thing happened in the theater when the drill went in, I noticed quite a few women cringing and squirming but it didn't faze me at all. (I'm female too but I guess I'm just desensitized. XD)
    Definitely one of my least favorite scenes of the movie, the quality level of the film felt like it went downhill from there.
  • Posts: 1,055
    Anyone notice how bright that scene in the torture room was?
    For a start it was very clinical, with a white decor, and then with what appeared to be blinding sun rays shining thru' a window. I kept thinking, someone pull the blind down, please!
    Something i've noticed on repeat viewing of the film at home..........when Bond is in the room at the beginning, and being tortured, you can clearly see 2 guards standing inside the room, by the door.............but when Bond makes his escape the guards arn't there anymore!
  • EsotericEsoteric Poland!
    Posts: 27
    I felt like during dental appointment, so that was pretty horrible.

    But seriously, it made me fell uncomfortable. Loud effects in cinema made me feel like i was being tortured.
  • It was pretty uncomfortable, but not in a good way. Didn't find it necessary to mention the "Bond won't recognize you" bit only to set up the "I love you" bit, which felt out of place.

    The first shot of that scene reminded me of Bond being treated in CR just after Mr. White kills Le Chiffre, with Vesper being out of focus mirroring the shot of Blofeld talking to Madeleine. One of the many references to the past films, maybe? They were definitely going for the same feel.
  • DsyferDsyfer Philippines
    Posts: 16
    Thanks to that torture scene, I'm now more afraid of needles and dentists. :))

  • Could someone please post the direct quotes from Colonel Sun. I'd really appreciate it. I’ve not yet read the book but I will! It may heighten my appreciation of the scene.

    For me, it is Waltz's big scene of the film, equivalent to the moment Bardem gets when Bond and Silva meet. I just feel that the material wasn't good enough for Waltz, he could have been so much better. Furthermore, in the December draft a more interesting scene plays out with Oberhauser and Bond playing cards. It would have worked as a direct reference to an event in their childhood when Bond beat him at cards. Plus the main thrust of the sequence from December is the childhood the pair shared. In the final film, it’s almost an afterthought with Waltz saying: “You’re probably wondering why I hate him so much.” YES we are! Mainly because the character of Franz Oberhauser has been so poorly weaved into the fabric of the film leading to this point.

    The December scene would have effectively built the tension and animosity between the characters. Plus it would have been a little more atypical of a Bond villain not to embark on another groanworthy torture sequence. (We all know Bond will escape!) This is the stuff SF did well as it bucked the trend and was subversive. It was a film that was bold enough to introduce its villain in a 10 minute dialogue scene with minimal gimmicks. Even the William Tell scene has a lot of brio and chutzpah.

    It would seem that Mendes was struggling with this Oberhauser/Bond confrontation scene for months. The initial Solar Furnace idea is totally pants and straight outta some poorly conceived parody film. It would seem someone shoved Colonel Sun under his nose and it was decided that they should just nick the sequence.
  • nandosadi wrote: »
    It was pretty uncomfortable, but not in a good way. Didn't find it necessary to mention the "Bond won't recognize you" bit only to set up the "I love you" bit, which felt out of place.

    The first shot of that scene reminded me of Bond being treated in CR just after Mr. White kills Le Chiffre, with Vesper being out of focus mirroring the shot of Blofeld talking to Madeleine. One of the many references to the past films, maybe? They were definitely going for the same feel.

    IIRC, you also hear a woman's scream that sounds remarkably like Vesper's scream as Bond is about to be tortured in CR.

    As for SP's torture scene, it is certainly effective. But is it TOO effective? This sequence is so gruesome and sadistic that I almost think it is too much for a Bond film. This is a Bond film, after all, not Saw. And the crowning touch of malevolence is the drills being positioned in front of Bond's eyes just before 007 breaks loose. So I don't know. Occasionally the directors/producers go overboard (Krest's death in LTK, and the S&M scene with Onatopp/Farrell in GE are other candidates), and this torture scene may have been the latest example of this tendency.

  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Paradox Hotel
    Posts: 38,299
    mepal1 wrote: »
    Anyone notice how bright that scene in the torture room was?
    For a start it was very clinical, with a white decor, and then with what appeared to be blinding sun rays shining thru' a window. I kept thinking, someone pull the blind down, please!

    A subtle, if not direct, nod to Colonel Sun, perhaps?
  • mepal1 wrote: »
    Anyone notice how bright that scene in the torture room was?
    For a start it was very clinical, with a white decor, and then with what appeared to be blinding sun rays shining thru' a window. I kept thinking, someone pull the blind down, please!
    Something i've noticed on repeat viewing of the film at home..........when Bond is in the room at the beginning, and being tortured, you can clearly see 2 guards standing inside the room, by the door.............but when Bond makes his escape the guards arn't there anymore!

    I think the whole point of it WAS to be clinical, almost like a dentists office. It worked REALLY well and actually made the scene even more uncomfortable for me.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    edited November 2015 Posts: 9,021
    The contrast from the very dark barely lit comet room to the ridiculously bright dentists room was fantastic.
    Darkness and Light is a theme played through the whole movie.

    C tells Bond in M's office about getting the British Intelligence Service from the dark ages into the light (or something like that).

    Oberhauser in the dark (Rome) turning his head into the light later

    Mexico - bright
    Rome - dark
    Austria - bright
    Train - nighttime
    Desert - bright
    Dark comet room - bright dentists room
    Brightest explosion ever.
    London - dark again
    End scene - daylight

    It's a pattern, and it works perfectly well and makes the movie unique and something special.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited November 2015 Posts: 23,883
    mepal1 wrote: »
    Anyone notice how bright that scene in the torture room was?
    For a start it was very clinical, with a white decor, and then with what appeared to be blinding sun rays shining thru' a window. I kept thinking, someone pull the blind down, please!
    Something i've noticed on repeat viewing of the film at home..........when Bond is in the room at the beginning, and being tortured, you can clearly see 2 guards standing inside the room, by the door.............but when Bond makes his escape the guards arn't there anymore!

    I think the whole point of it WAS to be clinical, almost like a dentists office. It worked REALLY well and actually made the scene even more uncomfortable for me.
    Yes, that was definitely intentional and had a surreal feeling. It sort of took me back to Marathon Man (as has been mentioned - although nowhere near as good as that classic scene) or even Alien or The Shining for some reason.
    As for SP's torture scene, it is certainly effective. But is it TOO effective? This sequence is so gruesome and sadistic that I almost think it is too much for a Bond film. This is a Bond film, after all, not Saw. And the crowning touch of malevolence is the drills being positioned in front of Bond's eyes just before 007 breaks loose. So I don't know. Occasionally the directors/producers go overboard (Krest's death in LTK, and the S&M scene with Onatopp/Farrell in GE are other candidates), and this torture scene may have been the latest example of this tendency.
    I think so. I found it uncomfortable....but not in a good way. I didn't feel that way as Bond was getting his nuts compressed in CR but there was something discomfiting about this one for me.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,098
    Personally, I think Blofeld was just making s**t up as he talked to scare them. You can't drill a *tiny* hole into someone's head & make them forget everything, for gosh sake! It was all about the torture, plane & simple. And it made me squirm.
    I once had oral surgery without pain killer (too long a story) so I took this very personally. :((
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited November 2015 Posts: 23,883
    Having thought about it more, the part that I found most discomforting was Swann's squirming during this scene. Blofeld making her watch this after the playback of White's death seemed like the real torture. He really was trying to mess with her.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,098
    bondjames wrote: »
    Having thought about it more, the part that I found most discomforting was Swann's squirming during this scene. Blofeld making her watch this after the playback of White's death seemed like the real torture. He really was trying to mess with her.
    Evil f**king bastard.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    edited November 2015 Posts: 29,587
    @Pierce2Daniel I'll give you a quote from Kingsley Amis's COLONEL SUN that was adapted.

    Colonel Sun to James Bond immediately prior to the torture (thin needles strategically inserted into the orifices of Bond's head): "A man lives inside his head. That's where the seat of his soul is. And this is true objectively as well as subjectively. I was present once - I wasn't directly concerned - when an American prisoner in Korea was deprived of his eyes. And the most astonishing thing happened. He wasn't there anymore. He'd gone, though he was still alive. There was nobody inside his skull. Most odd, I promise you.

    "So, James, I am going to where you are, the inside of your head."


    There were a few other relevant lines.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,098
    Nasty stuff.
  • This torture scene was one of my most uncomfortable cinematic moments, even on the second viewing. Not just the drilling, but the cold and clinical room too, with Madeleine being forced to sit and watch, and Blofeld with no socks. The testicle whacking in Casino Royale was brutal too, but at least it was in a dark, grimy environment, and the interaction between Bond and Le Chiffre was so much more entertaining.

    Craig has been tortured in a lot of films. I recently re-watched Dragon Tattoo - that basement scene with Stellan Skarsgard is another joy to watch.
  • edited November 2015 Posts: 5,018
    I actually thought this scene was quite brilliant. One of the very best scenes of the film for me. I haven't read Colonel Sun yet—one day, one day, I know—but for some reason I immediately thought of John Gardner when this scene appeared. I'm sure the scene reminded me of the end of
    Nobody Lives Forever, when Bond is threatened by guillotine in the bright, sterile deathbed room of the modern head of SPECTRE. Been awhile since I've read it, but if I recall correctly, he rigs some kind of explosive to annihilate the new SPECTRE head and get himself out of that trap as well.
    Anyway, Waltz reads his most eccentric in this scene, the torture is edgy and Gardner-esque (or Amis-esque as the case may be)—and therefore derivatively Fleming-esque—and the whole scene was just what the doctor ordered for this Bond fan.

    It's definitely interesting though to hear what some fans consider too far for the Bond franchise. A couple scenes in Skyfall went too far for me: the grotesquery of Silva's deformed face; the absolute, ridiculous crudeness of playing games with and shooting a bound Severine in the head, not to mention her unsettling and all too real for the world of Bond backstory. Anyway, those things bothered me and felt like they didn't belong in the fantastical world of Bond. But I guess on account of my upbringing on the contributions of Gardner (though it sounds like this scene may in fact be directly attributable to Amis), I found SPECTRE's torture scene a breath of fresh air.
  • Posts: 525
    I had no problems with it. Case closed.
  • Posts: 11,169
    Personally, the scene didn't have quite the same impact on me the second time round. I think I must have had the comments of "Bond is told his balance would be affected yet he is fine when he escapes" somewhere in the back of my head.

    Still, its an effective sequence and, like with CR equivalent, the sound editing really makes that scene.
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    edited November 2015 Posts: 4,159
    Birdleson wrote: »
    @Pierce2Daniel I'll give you a quote from Kingsley Amis's COLONEL SUN that was adapted.

    Colonel Sun to James Bond immediately prior to the torture (thin needles strategically inserted into the orifices of Bond's head): "A man lives inside his head. That's where the seat of his soul is. And this is true objectively as well as subjectively. I was present once - I wasn't directly concerned - when an American prisoner in Korea was deprived of his eyes. And the most astonishing thing happened. He wasn't there anymore. He'd gone, though he was still alive. There was nobody inside his skull. Most odd, I promise you.

    "So, James, I am going to where you are, the inside of your head."


    There were a few other relevant lines.


    Thanks @Birdleson

    They pretty much used it verbatim.

    Oh, and @chrisisall - me too! Dental surgery without any pain relief is well, torture! ;-)

  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 4,822
    It was ok, but quite a rushed scene. The CR scene was far more tence and well written.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 3,999
    I always like a good torture scene in a Bond film. It is so Fleming to do so. Trying to recall how many books/short stories have torture scenes...

    I also like that they are willing, apparently, to delve into the continuation novels, if there is good stuff there.

    What is interesting about the SP scene is that it seems to directly reference the Rome scene--was the Hinx eye scene added at the same time as the torture scene, or was that already in there? I haven't read the leaked scripts...
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,098
    royale65 wrote: »

    Oh, and @chrisisall - me too! Dental surgery without any pain relief is well, torture! ;-)
    They told me it was gonna hurt & it did. At least I know I can take a little pain now & then.
    @-)
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited November 2015 Posts: 23,883
    Just saw the film again.

    Yes, the scene continues to be disturbing for me...the clinical....medical....dental.....feeling of it all is a bit much actually. I mean, who really likes Hospitals?

    I still have problems with the quick recovery, especially given Blofeld tells him something about balance or loss of motor skills or something like that.
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