"Did i overcomplicate the plot ?" - Skyfall Appreciation & Discussion

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  • TripAcesTripAces Universal Exports
    Posts: 4,511
    (Forgive me a duplicate post - I posted this in the ‘controversial opinions’ thread, but this seems the better place for it - maybe the mods can remove one of the posts?)

    Skyfall and Vertigo

    Skyfall is my favourite Bond movie. Something about it really clicked for me. It took me a while to work out what it was but watching the Mendes commentary on the Blu-ray made it clear. He mentioned during the Shanghai sequence that when Bond grabs onto the lift, he was directly referencing a shot from the Hitchcock film Vertigo, which is my favourite ever movie.

    Suddenly it all fell into place. Skyfall has Vertigo connections all over the place to an uncanny degree.

    I’ll list them out below (I did put this online once before, a few years ago on a Phil Nobile Jr. article, I think maybe at BirthMoviesDeath):

    - the imagery in the Skyfall title sequence has clear references to the title and dream sequences from Vertigo. The gravestones and the camera going into the eye in particular

    - both movies start with a prologue mid mission chase sequence, with the protagonist (Bond and Scottie) chasing someone down. In both cases the protagonist has to watch or let a colleague die, and both prologues end with Bond / Scottie in a situation from which there really isn’t any plausible escape or survival

    - Bond and Scottie both in fact do survive but we aren’t shown how they do it. This leaves both characters metaphorically suspended between life and death during their movies.
    In Vertigo, it’s a clear visual metaphor (as you’d expect from Hitchcock). The prologue ends with Scottie literally suspended between life and death. In Skyfall, it’s maybe a bit more textual: Bond is ‘enjoying death’ and his hobby is ‘resurrection’

    -Bond and Scottie both leave the service (mi6 and the police force respectively). They are both dealing with physical and psychological trauma

    - They are both drawn back into spy/detective work to try and protect a woman who is being haunted by something/someone from the past.

    -Bond / Scottie both start their investigations through mesmerising wordless sequences where they are tracking someone through a city (Shanghai/San Francisco). In both of these sequences they observe someone sat in front of a painting

    -Both movies turn on plots that have villains hatching what some critics consider to be totally implausible schemes to achieve their objectives, having an almost omnipotent ability to predict how people are going to behave at particular moments in time. Some have said these are weaknesses of the films, even plot holes.

    -in both movies the villains seemingly achieve their objectives (and in Vertigo Gavin Estler gets away with it as far as we know)

    - Both movies have climatic scenes whereby Bond/Scottie have to go back to revisit the scenes of past trauma

    - Bond and Scottie both lose the girl at the end in a church

    I’m sure all of these can’t be coincidence. Were the writers and Mendes deliberately evoking Vertigo with such obvious parallels apparent?

    Interesting work, here, @DraxCucumberSandwich

    Some time ago, another such comparison was done between GF and Marnie. though in that one the focus was on Connery's performance. The suggestion was that Connery became a better Bond after working with Hitchcock.
  • DenbighDenbigh UK
    edited February 2022 Posts: 5,380
    Someone may have realised this before, but I think I've just discovered the literary inspiration for Sévérine's death. So, in an interview that I remember, either Neal Purvis or Robert Wade had mentioned that both You Only Live Twice and The Man With The Golden Gun were inspirations for the script, which you can really tell when you think about it.

    But, while rereading The Man With The Golden Gun, I noticed this scene and I can't believe I didn't realise until now that this could have influenced the scene we ended up getting in the film:
    "She wore a false pineapple as a headdress.[...]Scaramanga looked up at him under lizard eyelids. “No. If you figure the evening’s not going so good, make it go better. That’s what you’re being paid for. You act as if you know Jamaica. Okay. Get these people off the pad.” It was many years since James Bond had accepted a dare.[...]Next he slowly reached to his waistband and took out his gun. The subdued light from the spot on the girl glowed on its gold. He laid the two objects on the table side by side. James Bond, his back to the cabaret, picked up the gun and hefted it. He thumbed back the hammer and twirled the cylinder with a flash of his hands to verify that it was loaded.

    Then he suddenly whirled, dropped on his knee so that his aim would be above the shadowy musicians in the background, and, his arm at full length, let fly. The explosion was deafening in the confined space. The music died. There was a tense silence. The remains of the false pineapple hit something in the dark background with a soft thud. The girl stood under the spot and put her hands up to her face and slowly folded to the dance floor like something graceful out of Swan Lake."

    Obviously very different but just this idea of Bond shooting something off the head of a girl for the main villain.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Das Boot Hill
    Posts: 45,487
    Denbigh wrote: »
    Someone may have realised this before, but I think I've just discovered the literary inspiration for Sévérine's death. So, in an interview that I remember, either Neal Purvis or Robert Wade had mentioned that both You Only Live Twice and The Man With The Golden Gun were inspirations for the script, which you can really tell when you think about it.

    But, while rereading The Man With The Golden Gun, I noticed this scene and I can't believe I didn't realise until now that this could have influenced the scene we ended up getting in the film:
    "She wore a false pineapple as a headdress.[...]Scaramanga looked up at him under lizard eyelids. “No. If you figure the evening’s not going so good, make it go better. That’s what you’re being paid for. You act as if you know Jamaica. Okay. Get these people off the pad.” It was many years since James Bond had accepted a dare.[...]Next he slowly reached to his waistband and took out his gun. The subdued light from the spot on the girl glowed on its gold. He laid the two objects on the table side by side. James Bond, his back to the cabaret, picked up the gun and hefted it. He thumbed back the hammer and twirled the cylinder with a flash of his hands to verify that it was loaded.

    Then he suddenly whirled, dropped on his knee so that his aim would be above the shadowy musicians in the background, and, his arm at full length, let fly. The explosion was deafening in the confined space. The music died. There was a tense silence. The remains of the false pineapple hit something in the dark background with a soft thud. The girl stood under the spot and put her hands up to her face and slowly folded to the dance floor like something graceful out of Swan Lake."

    Obviously very different but just this idea of Bond shooting something off the head of a girl for the main villain.

    Great catch.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython “Baja?!”
    Posts: 6,846
    That was something brought up on another forum. And yes, Purvis and Wade AND Sam Mendes had said YOLT and TMWTGG served as the inspiration for SKYFALL, particularly Bond’s melancholy state of mind.

    - Bond is seemingly KIA/MIA, with M writing an obituary that’s pretty much word for word from Fleming (replacing Japan with Turkey)
    - Bond returns to MI6 months later and is put through physical and mental evaluation.
    - M sends Bond on a mission he’s seemingly ill prepared for.
    - Silva has shades of Scaramanga, given his sexuality and pressuring Bond into a William Tell situation.

    IIRC, Purvis & Wade considered using the brainwashing subplot with Bond attempting to assassinate M, before deciding that it was one plot point too many in a script packed with so much else.

    But like I said, they’re inspired by the two novels as opposed to being an adaptation of them. I think a faithful adaptation of the two really would have required there to have been an OHMSS prior. If many of you felt SF would have served better as Craig Bond’s final installment, I think that’s partly because it is inspired by the final two Fleming novels that puts Bond through the ringer before becoming his old self again. All SF was missing was a scene with Bond turning down knighthood.
  • MalloryMallory Do mosquitoes have friends?
    Posts: 1,796
  • Jordo007Jordo007 Merseyside
    Posts: 1,776
    I love Craig's reaction when he misses in the target practice. It's so believable and it's one of few times in the series we've seen Bond be vulnerable. Such a great bit of acting
  • edited March 2022 Posts: 1,278
    I'm a big fan of Skyfall. I get the sense that the result of this film is what they were trying to accomplish with The World Is Not Enough. Many elements of the two are similar - Bond getting injured, a more personal story, M getting more directly involved in the plot etc. The difference is while TWINE feels melodramatic and cringeworthy for me in places (Brosnan played an understated, breezy Bond very well but just couldn't do the more weighty dramatic stuff - seriously he acts like he's in a soap opera at times) Skyfall gels much better. The direction, editing and cinematography are all excellent. The script goes against the traditional Bond formula in places but I love how Bond actually technically fails in this film. M is killed, the list is made public, and even his childhood home is burnt down. The ending is also rather cynical on the surface - despite all this, the implication that MI6 and the 00 section's impact is waning, all of Bond's early disillusionment with the service, and even his attempt to disappear from this life after the PTS, he goes back and seems rather eager to do so. There's a sort of Fleming-esque quality to it, and I do think this is Craig's most Fleming-esque Bond performance on the whole.
  • MalloryMallory Do mosquitoes have friends?
    Posts: 1,796
    @007HallY To me the big difference with TWINE v SF is that Skyfall fully commits to its ideas and delivers on them, where as with TWINE they were trying to still have the classic Bond formula within it all.

  • Posts: 1,278
    Mallory wrote: »
    @007HallY To me the big difference with TWINE v SF is that Skyfall fully commits to its ideas and delivers on them, where as with TWINE they were trying to still have the classic Bond formula within it all.

    I don't know what it is about TWINE but I find no one comes out of it looking good, except perhaps Robbie Coltrane. Even Robert Carlyle - an excellent character actor usually - is embarrassing in this film, so hammy at times. I joked that Brosnan's performance during the more intense scenes are a bit 'soap opera-ish' but I know Michael Apted genuinely started his career directing Soap Opera for television so perhaps his instinct was to stage/direct actors in a certain way (the example that comes to mind is the 'he knew about my shoulder, he knew where to hurt me' scene).
  • MalloryMallory Do mosquitoes have friends?
    edited March 2022 Posts: 1,796
    @007HallY It is an interesting topic to dive into, why TWINE doesnt work (for me at least).

    I think a number of things immediately spring to mind:
    • Apted not being an action director and hired because of it. He was told "you do the drama, we will take care of the action" and that leads to a film where the drama/action do not work in tandem, side by side, and its very disjointed.
    • Too many cooks in the scripting, P&W, Dana Stevens, the Feirstein, the studio, Brozza all having their input. Leads to a disjointed final product.
    • MGM wanting to appeal more to the American market and insisting on American "star" actresses - hence Denise Richards (also see Teri Hatcher and Halle Berry)
    • The location work is pretty bland (Azerbaijan is not a very Bondian location) and the drab cinematography doesnt help it either.
    • A central love and betrayal (Bond and Electra) that doesnt really work for me due there being no real chemistry between Brosnan and Marceau. You needed sparks to fly off the screen to really sell it, and the subsequent betrayal (see CR), but it isnt here. It also is undermined by having Christmas Jones as the signposted "Bond Girl".

    To name but a few. It is a film that is being pulled in multiple conflicting directions and it shows. The old idiom goes "if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one". And TWINE is just boring to me. It not often I accuse a Bond film of being dull but this is it.
  • Posts: 1,841
    007HallY wrote: »
    Mallory wrote: »
    @007HallY To me the big difference with TWINE v SF is that Skyfall fully commits to its ideas and delivers on them, where as with TWINE they were trying to still have the classic Bond formula within it all.

    I don't know what it is about TWINE but I find no one comes out of it looking good, except perhaps Robbie Coltrane. Even Robert Carlyle - an excellent character actor usually - is embarrassing in this film, so hammy at times. I joked that Brosnan's performance during the more intense scenes are a bit 'soap opera-ish' but I know Michael Apted genuinely started his career directing Soap Opera for television so perhaps his instinct was to stage/direct actors in a certain way (the example that comes to mind is the 'he knew about my shoulder, he knew where to hurt me' scene).

    Coltrane is a perfect example of this film not being committed to its original intentions of being more serious. In GE, we're expected to believe he's a dangerous gangster who has had dealings with Bond in the past. Then in TWINE, he's reduced to comic relief, cracking one-liners, flailing in caviar and more one-liners and lastly becoming a tragic figure with the final insult dying but placing a perfect shot on the lock to free Bond from the iron maiden.

    Add to the list above some of the least inspired action in the series. I could go on and on, but work calls.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython “Baja?!”
    Posts: 6,846
    Mallory wrote: »
    @007HallY To me the big difference with TWINE v SF is that Skyfall fully commits to its ideas and delivers on them, where as with TWINE they were trying to still have the classic Bond formula within it all.

    That’s always been my issue with TWINE. There’s so much potential in it. It could have been Brosnan’s OHMSS, but it felt like the filmmakers also wanted to make a Roger Moore type film as well. It’s just tonally inconsistent.
  • DenbighDenbigh UK
    edited March 2022 Posts: 5,380
    Skyfall, I think, has always been most similar to The Man With The Golden Gun. Not tonally obviously but just in story and character elements.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 12,119
    Mallory wrote: »
    @007HallY To me the big difference with TWINE v SF is that Skyfall fully commits to its ideas and delivers on them, where as with TWINE they were trying to still have the classic Bond formula within it all.

    That’s always been my issue with TWINE. There’s so much potential in it. It could have been Brosnan’s OHMSS, but it felt like the filmmakers also wanted to make a Roger Moore type film as well. It’s just tonally inconsistent.

    Yes I think that's fair: the Brosnan films are very much the in between ones, where they're working out how far they can push it beyond the formula. It was pretty shocking at the time to have a Bond film where Bond gets injured, where M is kidnapped, where the Bond woman is the baddie. But looking back now it all feels fairly tame.
    I know we're supposed to knock Purvis & Wade but I think the story is one of the stronger elements- it feels like the film got pulled in a few directions, as you say.
    Denbigh wrote: »
    Skyfall, I think, has always been most similar to The Man With The Golden Gun. Not tonally obviously but just in story and character elements.

    How do you mean?
  • DenbighDenbigh UK
    edited March 2022 Posts: 5,380
    mtm wrote: »
    Denbigh wrote: »
    Skyfall, I think, has always been most similar to The Man With The Golden Gun. Not tonally obviously but just in story and character elements.

    How do you mean?
    Nothing major; a bullet leading the mission into action, a villain with his own private island with a specific interest in one of the recurring characters, a villain's mistress who has a shower scene with Bond, wants Bond to kill her tormentor, and eventually dies at the hands of said tormentor, a female agent whose abilities are called into question, and both films also utilise Macau.

    I don't think these similarities add or take away anything, and Skyfall remains my favourite James Bond overall; just some things I noticed.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 12,119
    Yes, fun catch about the bullet in particular, that’s nice.
    If I were going to remake any of the Bond films it would be TMWTGG: so many good little unique ideas but bundled in with plenty of bad ones too.
  • anyoneanyone Scotland
    Posts: 24
    DraxCucumberSandwich wrote: »
    (Forgive me a duplicate post - I posted this in the ‘controversial opinions’ thread, but this seems the better place for it - maybe the mods can remove one of the posts?)

    Skyfall and Vertigo

    Skyfall is my favourite Bond movie. Something about it really clicked for me. It took me a while to work out what it was but watching the Mendes commentary on the Blu-ray made it clear. He mentioned during the Shanghai sequence that when Bond grabs onto the lift, he was directly referencing a shot from the Hitchcock film Vertigo, which is my favourite ever movie.

    Suddenly it all fell into place. Skyfall has Vertigo connections all over the place to an uncanny degree.

    I’ll list them out below (I did put this online once before, a few years ago on a Phil Nobile Jr. article, I think maybe at BirthMoviesDeath):

    - the imagery in the Skyfall title sequence has clear references to the title and dream sequences from Vertigo. The gravestones and the camera going into the eye in particular

    - both movies start with a prologue mid mission chase sequence, with the protagonist (Bond and Scottie) chasing someone down. In both cases the protagonist has to watch or let a colleague die, and both prologues end with Bond / Scottie in a situation from which there really isn’t any plausible escape or survival

    - Bond and Scottie both in fact do survive but we aren’t shown how they do it. This leaves both characters metaphorically suspended between life and death during their movies.
    In Vertigo, it’s a clear visual metaphor (as you’d expect from Hitchcock). The prologue ends with Scottie literally suspended between life and death. In Skyfall, it’s maybe a bit more textual: Bond is ‘enjoying death’ and his hobby is ‘resurrection’

    -Bond and Scottie both leave the service (mi6 and the police force respectively). They are both dealing with physical and psychological trauma

    - They are both drawn back into spy/detective work to try and protect a woman who is being haunted by something/someone from the past.

    -Bond / Scottie both start their investigations through mesmerising wordless sequences where they are tracking someone through a city (Shanghai/San Francisco). In both of these sequences they observe someone sat in front of a painting

    -Both movies turn on plots that have villains hatching what some critics consider to be totally implausible schemes to achieve their objectives, having an almost omnipotent ability to predict how people are going to behave at particular moments in time. Some have said these are weaknesses of the films, even plot holes.

    -in both movies the villains seemingly achieve their objectives (and in Vertigo Gavin Estler gets away with it as far as we know)

    - Both movies have climatic scenes whereby Bond/Scottie have to go back to revisit the scenes of past trauma

    - Bond and Scottie both lose the girl at the end in a church

    I’m sure all of these can’t be coincidence. Were the writers and Mendes deliberately evoking Vertigo with such obvious parallels apparent?

    Interesting work, here, @DraxCucumberSandwich

    Some time ago, another such comparison was done between GF and Marnie. though in that one the focus was on Connery's performance. The suggestion was that Connery became a better Bond after working with Hitchcock.





    Jeez, I'm not good with basic typing - I hope I've highlighted your messages correctly.... Yes, this is very interesting work. I very agree!
    They've used a 'template' from Vertigo possibly in making SF ? I'm not very up on Vertigo but I'm going to dive in with an interest now for sure.

    By the way, the Craig films thematically go in a sequence, with Bond jumping to the next 'level' so to speak before the end of each film. Or certainly clearing/experiencing the main issue(in the case of QOS). The jump to the next level doesn't actually happen inbetween films though.

    Consequently the five films are very deliberately stitched together, making a consciously created all-in-one 5 film ascension. Having said that, the sequence of the 'plane'(s) of experience/existence that Bond is operating is this:

    Casino Royale - the physical
    Q of Solace - the emotional
    Skyfall - the psychological
    Spectre - the spiritual
    No Time to Die - the divine

    He moves through these levels, to 'become', and then commit the ultimate sacrifice. Now, they use Jungian references in Skyfall, as well as other things, with it being the psychological film. And your observation about Vertigo is very very interesting. That will be another 'clue' or reference deliberately put into Skyfall to draw out the theme - if we can spot it of course!!!!!

    Looks like you just did... Im off to trawl through Vertigo.....

    Thanks for sharing the observation Mr DraxCucumberSandwich

  • anyoneanyone Scotland
    Posts: 24
    Heck, it looks like I truly don't know how to quote in blue someone else's post. Apologies for that...........
  • Jordo007Jordo007 Merseyside
    Posts: 1,776
    I just rewatched Skyfall recently and though it might have it's detractors on here, one thing I love about it is the acting, from all the cast but espicially Daniel. I just wish they had saved this story for his last Bond film.

    I love how natural and real his acting is during the training sequence. That reaction after he misses the target for the second time is incredible. It's like it dawns on him that he's lost a step and there's more to this than just his injury
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    Posts: 1,863
    Yes, hence him then gouging out the frags of Patrice's bullet. Love the gnarly idea that someone came up with that he used the same knife to peel Mathilde's apple in NTTD! :D
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Das Boot Hill
    Posts: 45,487
    Venutius wrote: »
    Yes, hence him then gouging out the frags of Patrice's bullet. Love the gnarly idea that someone came up with that he used the same knife to peel Mathilde's apple in NTTD! :D

    Was it also in Silva s back inbetween?
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    Posts: 1,863
    Even better! :))
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 7,322
    Venutius wrote: »
    Yes, hence him then gouging out the frags of Patrice's bullet. Love the gnarly idea that someone came up with that he used the same knife to peel Mathilde's apple in NTTD! :D

    Was it also in Silva s back inbetween?

    Unfortunately no, the knife in Silva's back is a much larger hunting knife.

    Nice comments @Jordo007, I feel like I'm slowly becoming one of the detractors and I'm enjoying the film less and less, but your comments about the acting are certainly true.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited November 2022 Posts: 12,119
    Is it a folding pocket knife? I noticed the other day that Bond uses one to cut Mathilde free in the MI6 building in Spectre, and I thought that knife freaks (for there are many) must've been discussing that one.
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    edited November 2022 Posts: 7,322
    The one he uses to dig out the shrapnel in SF, the one he uses to free Madeleine, and the one he uses to cut the apple are all small folding knives. Not sure if it's the same one, but maybe. The one in Silva's back is not the same one.

    If they are all the same small folding knife, it would be a very cool one to have.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 12,119
    Yes, the Silva knife is the one Albert Finney plonks on the table in the gun room scene earlier. Chekov's knife :)
  • ggl007ggl007 www.archivo007.com Spain, España
    Posts: 2,515
    Skyfall knife:



    lnQAP9w.jpg

    Yes, it's Spanish :)
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 7,322
    Nice! Looks like a different knife from NTTD then.
  • DenbighDenbigh UK
    edited November 2022 Posts: 5,380
    Do you think Sévérine's wrist tattoo which is the mark of the Macau sex trade was inspired by Count Lippe's tattoo that marks him as a member of the Macau-based criminal organization, The Red Lightning Tong from Thunderball?
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 7,322
    Denbigh wrote: »
    Do you think Sévérine's wrist tattoo which is the mark of the Macau sex trade was inspired by Count Lippe's tattoo that marks him as a member of the Macau-based criminal organization, The Red Lightning Tong from Thunderball?

    I'm not sure if the tattoo is associated with anything in real life as far as wrist tattoos and Macau sex trades, but if there is a connection to something in reality, I'd say no.
    If, however, it's totally an invention of the film, then it definitely could be a throwback to Thunderball.
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