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Paul Haggis made some interesting notes when he says that when we meet Bond in DN he is already fully-armoured and he stays that way throughout the entire series. The conceit of CR was to see how he became that man. What made Bond become the cold hardened secret agent.
- Also if anyone's wondering avoid the Spottiswoode/Petri Jr commentary its not even scene-specific, and its just plain boring.
I was really surprised by this one (aside the fact that it's annoyingly narrated by John Cork) but it's very insightful mostly because of Peter Hunt. I was very surprised listening the Hunt to hear just how 'directed' this film was (after all the Bond films are notorious for being very producer-driven). Hunt seems to have had a lot of pull for a first-time director.
I always thought that Hunt was a bit of an arrogant sod but he comes across very well in the commentary. He knows his film very well and gives a very good breakdown of it. Furthermore he seems to understand Bond very well and knows that you have to make the world fun and exciting but it's also important to take the thing seriously and not lampoon yourself.
Many of the other commentators all agree that Hunt was an elegant man which explains why the film is so good-looking. Hunt himself says he wanted Lazenby to look the part and decked him in the finest clobber and occanisally Hunt seems to fawn over his leading man (despite their well known bust-ups).
Hunt talks often about how he wanted to make a glamorous film. The film is gorgeous; something that Hunt clearly aimed for as fills each frame with as much glamour as possible. Michael Reed and him talk about in this in detail.
It's also reassuring to hear that Hunt was worried about the 'Hell's Belles' aspect of the plot as it is a little silly. But he comments that he approached the matter seriously in the film and thinks it worked as a result. He also acknowledges that the brainwash stuff was a potentially a bit strange and was worried it wouldn't work.
Mendes does a wonderful job with SF and the Irvin Kershner effort accompanying NSNA is both very interesting and informative.
Mendes's commentary track is excellent, he very much gives an academic analysis of his film. I'd love to hear Kirshner's track, he's a very lively character and apparently he's very blaize and matter-of-fact on the track.
I do recommend the OHMSS track as Hunt supplies some really interesting pieces of info. I also recently listened to the YOLT track and it's really not that great. In the most part it's a very technical track with a lot of talk about how the sets got made, how expensive they were, how the marketing was done, etc. There is little actual talk from Lewis Gilbert about his approuch for the film or anything too scene-specific. Gilbert does say some interesting stuff about how the audiences back in 1967 didn't want anything new nor did they want a picture that explored Bond's 'psychology or childhood', instead they wanted what they had seen before but done in a new bigger way. I found the talk about Freddie Young's appointment most interesting - Gilbert refers to Young as the greatest artist working in England at the time. Also there's a nice story about how David Lean visited the set and was very impressed by proceedings.
(Also William Cartilege doesn't come across too great there are a few sexist and slightly racist comments on display)
I wouldn't go as far as to call TSWLM track as awful but it's definitely the least insightful of all the commentary tracks out there. Whilst John Cork himself is a bit of a bore at least the commentary tracks he hosts are actually very insightful and interesting. On TSWLM we have the rather lackadaisical MGW running the show. The annoying thing with this track is that there will often be times where no one has anything to say and when someone does say something all of sudden everyone starts speaking over each other.
Lewis Gilbert seems to have completely forgotten the film he made however him and Ken Adam have good rapport with each other. Adam is the most interesting and insightful on the track. There is further insight from a rather snarky Christopher Wood. The best part comes when Wood condemns Gilbert's decision to make Jaws become slightly comedic as he intended to create a more horrific character (He takes particular issue with Jaws dropping the rock on his foot).