Bond's "dark mirror" villains

edited May 2017 in Bond Movies Posts: 676
Let's discuss the villains who are like an evil reflection of 007. Characters like Scaramanga, 006, Graves and Silva. Do you like this type of villain? Which of these characters did you enjoy, and which did you not? etc.

I think it might be obvious that in the last 25 years, the "dark mirror" villain has been a bit overplayed. I don't mind the concept, but for variety's sake I'd like them to do different kinds of villains going forward. (Would love to see another Klebb or Bunt.)

My favourite "dark mirror" is Silva - he shares a lot in common with 006 (former agent left for dead now seeking revenge, mocking England, could be seen as Bond's metaphorical "brother") - but he's less generic than 006. I get more invested in his vendetta, which feels more real and present, and Bardem sells it. I love Silva's costume design, too, especially the shocking bleached hair (which I think was meant to riff on the "blond Bond" controversy, as well as remind of Julian Assange). I also like that he's bisexual and flamboyant, in contrast to the usual hyper masculine Bond.

My least favourite is Graves. Easy choice, right? What I dislike most is that he deliberately modeled himself after Bond. Which would be fine, if he weren't so insufferable. I am led to believe that the writers view Bond as a smarmy, smug ponce (which was unfortunately accurate in Die Another Day, IMO). Bad show, writers.

What say you?
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Comments

  • edited June 2017 Posts: 170
    delete
  • edited May 2017 Posts: 19,339
    Scaramanga was simply another assassin ,who killed for a different reason,a perfect opposite,which annoys me in that they could have used Sir Christopher more in that context,expecially in the funhouse ending,which was a big let down after the superb dinner scene.
  • edited May 2017 Posts: 676
    The dinner conversation is good, but I would be happy to just switch it off after that.
  • Posts: 19,339
    Milovy wrote: »
    The dinner conversation is good, but I would be happy to just switch it off after that.

    Exactly..after the build up of Rodney in the PTS you spent the whole film waiting for the showdown,and it was shit.
  • edited May 2017 Posts: 676
    Robertson wrote: »
    Does Bond's mercy towards Nic Nac indicate a softening of the Bond character in reaction to Scaramanga's dinner speech? Questions to ponder for serious viewers of TMWTGG.
    "I may be small but I never forget!"

    It's hard to see how TMWTGG would invite serious viewing.
  • edited June 2017 Posts: 6,432
    Milovy wrote: »
    Robertson wrote: »
    Does Bond's mercy towards Nic Nac indicate a softening of the Bond character in reaction to Scaramanga's dinner speech? Questions to ponder for serious viewers of TMWTGG.
    "I may be small but I never forget!"

    It's hard to see how TMWTGG would invite serious viewing.

    I always hear Hervé voice when I read that line.

    006 is one of my favouraite Bond 'dark mirror' villains, I think they attempted the same thing with Blofeld in SP though it fell flat. In SP I never got the feeling there was any connection between Bond and Ernst, in fact I was not convinced they had even met previously.
  • Posts: 676
    @fire_and_ice They even tried to make the "dark mirror" idea explicit in this shot of Bond and Blofeld:

    https://s23.postimg.org/4fiqkf38b/Mirror.png

    It's very Christopher Nolan. Like you, I don't think it works.
  • Posts: 6,432
    Milovy wrote: »
    @fire_and_ice They even tried to make the "dark mirror" idea explicit in this shot of Bond and Blofeld:

    https://s23.postimg.org/4fiqkf38b/Mirror.png

    It's very Christopher Nolan. Like you, I don't think it works.

    That shot isolated is a good shot, though it's the film the shot is in unfortunately undermines it.
  • edited June 2017 Posts: 676
    I don't like the shot myself. When I call it Nolan-esque, coming from me, that's not really a compliment. It's a sophomoric attempt at making subtext obvious to the audience.

    IMO, the problem with casting Spectre's Bond and Blofeld as "dark mirrors" is that they don't really share anything in common, other than being raised by the same person for a period. You don't look at Blofeld and think, "if things had been a little different, that might have been Bond." They aren't opposite numbers fighting for opposite teams or anything like that (M would be Blofeld's opposite, I guess).

    Blofeld is actually the anti-Bond in many ways - at least Fleming's puritan Blofeld is. Incidentally, I've noticed that the book Blofeld's trait of having no vices has been used for a couple characters in the EON films. Namely, Vargas ("does not drink, does not smoke, does not make love") and Kriegler ("he doesn't smoke, he only eats health foods and he won't even talk to girls"). Anyway, I've gone off topic.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 It was this or the priesthood.
    Posts: 28,231
    My favorite dark mirror villain is Grant. He had the tenacity, dutiful focus and strategy of Bond, and when they go at it it is like watching two alpha wolves battling for the pack in the wild. Because they're such perfect matches, you are tricked into thinking Bond has bitten it and very few have gotten Bond to Death's door the way Grant did. You feel Bond's utter defeat and embarrassment, mixed with the fear of what consequences his blind spot will bring him.

    I really like how the costume design of FRWL and how the team dressed Shaw really underscored Grant's role as Bond's doppelgänger. Grant rotates through gradations of gray suits while tracking Bond, often wearing navy ties with them just as Sean's Bond always wore; at times you think Grant pilfered some suits from Bond's flat. I like to think that, because Grant knew he'd need to impersonate a Brit to get the Lektor, he consciously studied Bond's English style to copy it and adopt it as his own to better blend in. Like a true assassin, he studied his target and found ways to blend in while he waited for his prey to show their weakness.
  • Posts: 13,044
    A mirror image is like you yet completely opposite. For me my favourite will always be Grant: sadistic killer against a Bond who does not enjoy killing, brutish and unrefined (mixing red wine with fish), maybe homosexual and/or impotent (he is utterly indifferent to women and has an almost fetishist fascination to torture). And his role in SPECTRE hierarchy is more or less the same as Bond. Something I thought Trevelyan lacked by the way: I would have preferred 006 to be henchman to a big bad that could have been a recurrent adversary.
  • Agent_99Agent_99 enjoys a spirited ride as much as the next girl
    Posts: 2,538
    I rather like Graves. He's a reminder that underneath all the swagger and sexism and snobbery, Bond is a decent bloke, and this is the asymmetry in the mirror image.
  • Posts: 231
    Graves never reminded me of Bond at all. However, Trevelyan was a good mirror of Brosnan's Bond.

    Scaramanga was a mirror of Connery, which is why it was dreadful that they gave to film to Moore. Moore was a secret agent Bond - not an assassin.
  • Posts: 2,220
    The greatest dark mirror for Bond is Fleming's version of Emilio Largo, "a big, conspicuously handsome man of about forty", with "an animalness that would devastate women." He is "an adventurer, a predator on the herd. Two hundred years before he would have been a pirate." Fleming at various times also calls Bond a pirate, and like Bond, Largo is a gambler and plays chemin de fer. Largo possesses "a cool brain and an exquisite finesse...He was the epitome of the gentleman crook—a man of the world, a great womanizer, a high liver with the entrée to café society in four continents." Domino sneers that "He wants women for use. Not for love. He has had thousands in this way" and that "Largo cannot live without a woman within reach."

    All told, a perfect dark mirror--an anti-Bond. Unfortunately the movie screwed this up by miscasting the stolid Adolfo Celi and reducing the character's importance.
  • edited June 2017 Posts: 19,339
    Robertson wrote: »
    @Revelator Klaus Maria Brandauer is the definitive Largo. Celi is forgettable.

    No...he is good but Celi is my favourite Largo by a long way...the conversations he and Bond have are brilliant.
  • Posts: 6,432
    barryt007 wrote: »
    Robertson wrote: »
    @Revelator Klaus Maria Brandauer is the definitive Largo. Celi is forgettable.

    No...he is good but Celi is my favourite Largo by a long way...the conversations he and Bond have are brilliant.

    Largo played by Cell is one of my favouraite Villains in the series, some fantastic scenes with Bond.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 It was this or the priesthood.
    Posts: 28,231
    Revelator wrote: »
    The greatest dark mirror for Bond is Fleming's version of Emilio Largo, "a big, conspicuously handsome man of about forty", with "an animalness that would devastate women." He is "an adventurer, a predator on the herd. Two hundred years before he would have been a pirate." Fleming at various times also calls Bond a pirate, and like Bond, Largo is a gambler and plays chemin de fer. Largo possesses "a cool brain and an exquisite finesse...He was the epitome of the gentleman crook—a man of the world, a great womanizer, a high liver with the entrée to café society in four continents." Domino sneers that "He wants women for use. Not for love. He has had thousands in this way" and that "Largo cannot live without a woman within reach."

    All told, a perfect dark mirror--an anti-Bond. Unfortunately the movie screwed this up by miscasting the stolid Adolfo Celi and reducing the character's importance.

    Largo wasn't as faithfully adapted as many Fleming purists would want, but I still think the film's take follows his personality rather well otherwise. A user and abuser of women, a predator and animal (he feels one with his sharks), a certain style and sense of strategy. It's all there. It would've been interesting to see a younger man cast who could mirror Sean's own handsomeness and masculinity, but Celi and Robert Reitty add so much to the character it'd be a shame to lose them. One of my favorite aspects of Thunderball is that Bond serves to show Largo how outmatched he is; Celi telegraphs a hurt ego perfectly.
  • edited June 2017 Posts: 13,044
    No movie villain was ever completely faithfully adapted. The movies had to use short cuts to display the bizarre and monstrous nature of Fleming's villains. Fleming's Largo is more handsome than Celi, maybe, but he also has an animal ugliness in him. Overall, Largo is a large Italian thug. And at least Celi has the Roman emperor's face and the hooked nose.
  • Posts: 2,220
    Largo wasn't as faithfully adapted as many Fleming purists would want, but I still think the film's take follows his personality rather well otherwise. A user and abuser of women, a predator and animal (he feels one with his sharks), a certain style and sense of strategy. It's all there. It would've been interesting to see a younger man cast who could mirror Sean's own handsomeness and masculinity...

    I think part of the problem is that Celi doesn't project the vitality of a man in his prime, and without that almost all of the character's attributes come off as subdued. Giving the character an eye-patch seems like a rather desperate attempt to make him more memorable. The previous Bond films had succeeded brilliantly in casting--though Wise's Dr. No was not a physical match for Fleming's, he projected the same scientific menace, and Gert Frobe was physically perfect for Goldfinger, perhaps even uglier than Fleming's version. But for Largo to work, you need an actor who really exudes vitality, and that requires someone who isn't too old--at the time Connery himself would have been a good choice for the role. Brandauer's Largo is a fine villain, but a slightly different character, more psychopathic than the original.
  • Posts: 676
    Agent_99 wrote: »
    I rather like Graves. He's a reminder that underneath all the swagger and sexism and snobbery, Bond is a decent bloke, and this is the asymmetry in the mirror image.
    Good point.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 4,281
    I believe in the LALD documentary that Yaphet Kotto said that he was playing a mirror version of Bond.
  • Posts: 10,274
    Scaramanga, Trevelyan, and Silva are all favorites of mine.
  • RoadphillRoadphill United Kingdom
    Posts: 950
    Revelator wrote: »
    The greatest dark mirror for Bond is Fleming's version of Emilio Largo, "a big, conspicuously handsome man of about forty", with "an animalness that would devastate women." He is "an adventurer, a predator on the herd. Two hundred years before he would have been a pirate." Fleming at various times also calls Bond a pirate, and like Bond, Largo is a gambler and plays chemin de fer. Largo possesses "a cool brain and an exquisite finesse...He was the epitome of the gentleman crook—a man of the world, a great womanizer, a high liver with the entrée to café society in four continents." Domino sneers that "He wants women for use. Not for love. He has had thousands in this way" and that "Largo cannot live without a woman within reach."

    All told, a perfect dark mirror--an anti-Bond. Unfortunately the movie screwed this up by miscasting the stolid Adolfo Celi and reducing the character's importance.

    Superb point. Although I enjoyed Celi's performance, he was for sure a watered down Largo compared to the novel. I wonder who would have been a perfect choice for the role had it been completely faithful. Surely someone ten years younger than Adolfo, for starters.
  • RoadphillRoadphill United Kingdom
    Posts: 950
    Agent_99 wrote: »
    I rather like Graves. He's a reminder that underneath all the swagger and sexism and snobbery, Bond is a decent bloke, and this is the asymmetry in the mirror image.

    As do I.

    The film around him isn't the best, for sure, but he is a like Bond with all the enjoyable parts removed. Also a rarity, that on paper, he is actually younger than Bond. Where it not for the Korean stuff he could have been a Zuckerberg/Musk type. Plus Toby Stephens has an absolutely glorious shit eating grin here...
  • edited January 2020 Posts: 2,220
    Roadphill wrote: »
    Superb point. Although I enjoyed Celi's performance, he was for sure a watered down Largo compared to the novel. I wonder who would have been a perfect choice for the role had it been completely faithful. Surely someone ten years younger than Adolfo, for starters.

    Thanks! I think Vittorio Gassman or Gian Maria Volontè could have been an effective Largo. Gabriele Ferzetti might also have worked in the role, but Draco is the part he was born to play.
  • RoadphillRoadphill United Kingdom
    Posts: 950
    Revelator wrote: »
    Roadphill wrote: »
    Superb point. Although I enjoyed Celi's performance, he was for sure a watered down Largo compared to the novel. I wonder who would have been a perfect choice for the role had it been completely faithful. Surely someone ten years younger than Adolfo, for starters.

    Thanks! I think Vittorio Gassman or Gian Maria Volontè could have been an effective Largo. Gabriele Ferzetti might also have worked in the role, but Draco is the part he was born to play.

    Yeah, they are all good choices. I couldn't see Ferzetti as anyone other than Draco, like you.
  • RoadphillRoadphill United Kingdom
    edited January 2020 Posts: 950
    Scaramanga is of course a case in point here too. A refined gent, if an evil one. A perfect counterpoint to Moore's Bond.

    Interestingly enough, I saw an interview with Tom Mankeiwitz (I have probably got that spelling completely wrong) the original script had Scaramanga far closer in character to the novel, and Jack Palance was sounded out for the role. Alas he rejected it, and when Christopher Lee came on board, the script was changed accordingly.
  • Posts: 10,274
    Roadphill wrote: »
    Scaramanga is of course a case in point here too. A refined gent, if an evil one. A perfect counterpoint to Moore's Bond.

    Interestingly enough, I saw an interview with Tom Mankeiwitz (I have probably got that spelling completely wrong) the original script had Scaramanga far closer in character to the novel, and Jack Palance was sounded out for the role. Alas he rejected it, and when Christopher Lee came on board, the script was changed accordingly.

    I’m glad we got the version we did, not only because Lee is terrific, but IMO the way the character was changed was an improvement over the novel. The book version of Scaramanga is one of the less interesting villains IMO, whereas the movie version is one of the franchise’s best.
  • RoadphillRoadphill United Kingdom
    Posts: 950
    FoxRox wrote: »
    Roadphill wrote: »
    Scaramanga is of course a case in point here too. A refined gent, if an evil one. A perfect counterpoint to Moore's Bond.

    Interestingly enough, I saw an interview with Tom Mankeiwitz (I have probably got that spelling completely wrong) the original script had Scaramanga far closer in character to the novel, and Jack Palance was sounded out for the role. Alas he rejected it, and when Christopher Lee came on board, the script was changed accordingly.

    I’m glad we got the version we did, not only because Lee is terrific, but IMO the way the character was changed was an improvement over the novel. The book version of Scaramanga is one of the less interesting villains IMO, whereas the movie version is one of the franchise’s best.

    Absolutely. Whilst Palace would have been an interesting change of pace for a Bond villain, it's hard to argue that Christopher Lee isn't one of the strongest elements of TMWTGG.
  • Posts: 13,044
    FoxRox wrote: »
    Roadphill wrote: »
    Scaramanga is of course a case in point here too. A refined gent, if an evil one. A perfect counterpoint to Moore's Bond.

    Interestingly enough, I saw an interview with Tom Mankeiwitz (I have probably got that spelling completely wrong) the original script had Scaramanga far closer in character to the novel, and Jack Palance was sounded out for the role. Alas he rejected it, and when Christopher Lee came on board, the script was changed accordingly.

    I’m glad we got the version we did, not only because Lee is terrific, but IMO the way the character was changed was an improvement over the novel. The book version of Scaramanga is one of the less interesting villains IMO, whereas the movie version is one of the franchise’s best.

    In the novel Scaramanga is a vulgar, crass lout. He's a different mirror of Bond.
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