Sunday 8 March 2015

James Bond Really Likes Boats - and he hasn't actually owned many cars.

Q: "What do you see?" Bond: "A bloody big ship." - Skyfall

With ITV currently repeating the James Bond films every Sunday afternoon, I've found myself chatting with people on Twitter about various Bond-related things. Several weeks ago when ITV were mid-way through the Roger Moore era, it was noted that Bond is seen on a boat in every one of Moore's Bond films.

Before he was 007, Bond was Commander James Bond of the Royal Navy. He wears his naval uniform in several films including You Only Lice Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies. Bond is rarely seen on naval boats but he does venture onto the water in some form or another an awful lot.

Today, with Twitter's help, I worked out that 007 can be seen on a boat in every single Bond film except for Goldfinger and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. If you don't believe me, here it is:

Dr. No - Quarrel's boat whilst using the Geiger counter, then travelling to Dr. No's island, then escaping the island at the end of the film.

From Russia with Love - Bond and Tania are chased in a speedboat, using the spare fuel barrels to blow up their pursuers. Bond and Tania on a canal at the end of the film.

Goldfinger - n/a

Thunderball - Bond takes a boat with Paula to go diving, he goes back to shore on Domino's boat, he goes on Emilio Largo's boat the Disco Volante.

You Only Live Twice - Bond is knocked out and wakes up tied to a chair on board a ship where he is interrogated by Helga Brandt

On Her Majesty's Secret Service -  n/a

Diamonds Are Forever - Tiffany and Bond take a ship home, where they are attacked by Mr Wint and Mr Kidd.

Live and Let Die - There is an absolutely amazing speedboat chase after Bond escapes from the crocodile farm. Sheriff JW Pepper shows up for the first time.

The Man With the Golden Gun - Bond escapes from the karate school by nicking a boat and a little boy tries to sell him "a real live elephant".

The Spy Who Love Me - lots of boats. A boat to get to Karl Stromberg's home of Atlantis, a U.S. Navy ship, a big fight onboard Atlantis at the end.

Moonraker - Bond uses a speedboat to get to Hugo Drax's lair in the middle of the Amazon. He is attacked by armed goons, including Jaws, on the way. It ends over a waterfall.

For Your Eyes Only - Bond boards the Havelock's boat with Melina Havelock. They use it to travel out and look at the wreck where they recover the ATAC. When they return from diving, Kristatos and his men are waiting for them on the boat.

Octopussy - after Bond escapes from Kamal Khan, narrowly avoiding being eaten by a tiger ("Siiiiiit!), he is pulled aboard a boat full of American tourists.

A View to a Kill - when chasing Mayday through Paris, Bond jumps from a bridge onto a boat and falls through the roof, destroying a wedding cake. A furious chef can be seen.

The Living Daylights - at the end of the pre-titles sequence Bond parachutes onto a boat and borrows a woman's mobile phone.

Licence to Kill - Bond sneaks aboard Sanchez's boat on several occasions.

Goldeneye - a new helicopter is being revealed aboard a boat in Monaco and Bond gets on board. He finds the dead pilots and is stopped by security as the helicopter gets stolen.

Tomorrow Never Dies - Bond and Wai Lin fight their way aboard Elliot Carver's stealth ship.

The World is Not Enough - near the start of the film Bond takes Q's new boat and goes on a speedboat chase after Cigar Girl.

Die Another Day - after being traded for another prisoner and getting to leave North Korea, Bond is put on the medical wing of a boat. He swims ashore to Hong Kong, arriving in the lobby of a hotel in soaking wet pyjamas and bare feet.

Casino Royale - he takes a boat out with Vesper near the end and we see him writing his resignation email to MI6.

Quantum of Solace - Bond steals a wooden speedboat to rescue the leading lady.

Skyfall - Bond travels with Séverine to the abandoned island where he meets Raoul Silva for the first time.

We tend to think of Bond's cars more than his boats but this proves that the man loves a boat too.

Actually, Bond uses an MI6-issued car in less than half of his films.

Goldfinger - Aston Martin DB5 makes its first appearance. Guns, oil slick, tyre cutter, revolving number plates, and of course - "Ejector seat? You're joking!"

Thunderball - the DB5 is seen briefly in the pre-titles sequence.

The Spy Who Loved Me - Lotus Esprit S1. Remembered mainly as the car that can go underwater.

For Your Eyes Only - Lotus Esprit Turbo. A goon sets off the self-destruct feature.

The Living Daylights - Aston Martin V8 Vantage. It has tyre traction so Bond can drive on ice, as well as its own skis.

Goldeneye - the DB5 is seen near the start and Bond also takes a BMW Z3 to Cuba that Q showed him earlier. He tells Jack Wade, "Don't push any of the buttons in that car." "I'm just going to go bombing around in it." "Exactly."

Tomorrow Never Dies - the BMW 750iL is rather cool. Bond can drive it from his mobile phone.

The World is Not Enough - before it can do anything the BMW Z8 is sadly cut in half by a chainsaw attached to a helicopter.

Die Another Day - the Aston Martin Vanquish "we call it 'the Vanish'". Some people hate the Bond car because it can turn invisible. There is a very cool moment where the car gets flipped on its roof and Bond uses the ejector seat to flip back over.

Casino Royale - the Aston Martin DBS V12 has a medical kit that saves Bond's life.

Quantum of Solace - a DBS V12 is featured again.

Skyfall - the DB5 returns for Bond's 50th anniversary.

In the rest of the Bond films Bond either steals cars or uses hire cars. Having a specialist car from MI6 for every film is really only a tradition that began with the Pierce Brosnan Bond films. This means that altogether there are only 9 different cars that Bond has from MI6, including 3 - the Lotus Esprit Turbo, BMW Z3 and BMW Z8 - that only appear briefly. That is quite something for a man who is known for women, gadgets and cars.

Bond's gadget-filled cars are not essential and are certainly not a major part of every one of the films. However, Bond really likes his boats.

My thanks to @Roll_VT (Goldeneye) and @Simon_Pegg (Diamonds Are Forever, Die Another Day and Quantum of Solace) for their boat help.

Monday 2 March 2015

The Prisoner - Free For All

Episode 4: Free For All

First ITV broadcast: Friday 20th October 1967, 7.30pm (ATV Midlands/Grampian)
Estimated first run ratings: 11.1 million
First CBS broadcast: Saturday 29th June 1968, 7.30pm

There is an election on and Number Six is one of the candidates.We have got to know a bit about the Village now and it seems ridiculous that they should hold elections. The residents have been brought there by force and every aspect of their lives is monitored and controlled. The idea of there being something as free and democratic as an election is absurd. Number Two (Eric Portman) says that there are elections once a year. Of course not all elections are fair. Number Six says "Everyone votes for a dictator" but Number Two argues "Not at all. It's just that their resistance is low."

  Number Two encourages Number Six to stand against him in the election. Number Two has a large group of supporters following him around. They wear their most multi-coloured of clothes and cheer or blast horns whilst the Village's typical brass band music blares loudly. They wear ribbons with '2' on them and carry large posters of Number Two's face. Like the arts and crafts fair in The Chimes of Big Ben, it shows how devoted the population are to Number Two. Unlike Number Six, most of the Village appear to have given in and are determined to settle down and live a life as well as is possible in the Village. They conform. When Number Six is invited to follow Number Two and give a speech, he begins by saying "I am not a number. I am a person." Everyone falls about laughing. What a mad idea! No one in the Village is a person. But Number Six continues "I intend to discover who are the prisoners and who are the warders", giving us the reminder, as seen in the previous episodes, that not everyone in the Village has been brought there by force. Number Two announces to the crowd that Number Six will be running for office and suddenly the crowd move into action. All the posters of Number Two have been replaced by posters of Number Six - the photo is the same as his file photo seen in the opening credits. The crowd cheer and shower Number Six in confetti. But they have only done so because Number Two has announced it and so it would seem that they are really still under his control.

"I am not a number! Unless it is convenient for election campaigns."
  This episode marks the first time in the series that Number Six chooses to wear his number. He has only once been seen wearing his number badge and that was back in Arrival when he was leaving the hospital. He immediately tore it off, implying that someone else had pinned it to his jacket. Here he wears an election ribbon with a '6' on, just like the '2' ones. I think he only wears it because of his determination to win the election, having realised that no one else will ever stand against Number Two.

  Number Six is bundled onto a taxi and a photographer, Number 113b (Dene Cooper), leaps on the bonnet, trying to take pictures of Number Six. A reporter, Number 113 (Harold Berens), also gets on the taxi and says they are from the Tally Ho, the Village's local (and only) paper. Number Six answers "no comment" to all of the reporter's questions so the reporter makes up all the answers. It is a blatant ridicule of the press, compounded when the taxi stops next to a news stand and a copy of the paper is rolled off immediately with a headline saying "No. 6 Speaks His Mind". Clearly the article had been written before the interview.

Number Six gets papped!
  Number Six is required to attend a council meeting. Number Two is present and the council members stand in a circle. Their numbers are '2c' '2d' '2e' etc. and none of them speak. Everything is done through Number Two. The council is only for show. Number Two is still in charge really. Number Six calls them "brainwashed imbeciles". He asks "Can you laugh? Can you cry?" and shouts "In your hearts must still be the desire to be a human being again!" I find 'brainwashed' to be the perfect word for the Village. Like Number Two's supporters there are those in the Village who have given in and find it easier to conform to the rules. They do as they are told, chant and cheer at the right moments, trying above everything not to stand out or make a fuss. They have lost what it means to be human; to be an individual person.

  Number Six is spun round then plunged through a hole in the floor. He staggers down a corridor lit with a red light and loud tense music plays on the soundtrack. He falls through a door and is invited to have tea with the Labour Exchange manager, Number 28. There really has been a lot of tea in this programme. When Number Six tries to get up Number 28 presses a button. "This is merely the truth test. And there's no need to be alarmed. Why did you wish to run for electoral office?" Number Six cannot get up. He cannot speak. "Everything you think here is in the strictest confidence." Now this begs the question: if they have a way of reading thoughts, why do they not ask Number Six why he resigned? Presumably the machine can only read some thoughts and cannot get too deep if there is enough resistance. Number 28 discovers that Number Six thought he could organise break outs if he won the election. Number Six shakes in the chair until suddenly it all stops. Number Six seems different. He slowly stands up and smiles. "Thanks for the tea. You'll be voting for me of course?" He acts as though he has no memory of the truth test and from now on seems a little odd, as though he has been brainwashed in some way. It's always so hard with Number Six that it's difficult to tell whether he is putting it on or not.

  Outside there is a madly cheering crowd. The reporter and photographer appear. There's a film camera and a microphone shoved in Number Six's face. He waves to the crowd and happily answers all the questions.

The truth test.
 Back at his house, Number Six is with his new maid, Number 58 (Rachel Herbert), who Number Two introduced to Six at the start of the episode. She speaks no English and gabbles away in some Slavic language. The television is on and we see Number Six giving a speech. He gets frustrated with Number 58's inability to learn an English phrase and then seems to have a moment of sudden clarity. He runs out the house, gets in a taxi, and drives down to the harbour. Behind him we can hear a crowd chanting "Six! Six! Six!" Number Six gets in a speedboat and drives off. He grapples with some men, fighting several off before falling in the water and being brought back to shore by Rover. As he glides across the water, he mutters the words of the election broadcast.

  We see Number Six in hospital but not long afterwards he's back on a boat in the harbour making a rousing speech. He tells the citizens that if they give up information they will get access to more activities in the Village. We cut to Number Two on the village green. There's hardly anyone there and only a few listening. He says that Number Six has a good record "but he has no experience whatsoever of the manipulation of a community such as ours". Number Six himself is clearly being manipulated in some way. He drives past Number Two shouting "the word is: freedom!" It is a false freedom he is promoting though.

  Later Number Six is in a bar with Number 58 and gets angry when he can't get a real alcoholic drink. The waitress (Holly Doone) says that it "looks the same, tastes the same" and Number Six adds "but you can't get tiddly". This explains why in The Chimes of Big Ben when the Colonel serves Number Six a whisky, Number Six does not immediately realise they are still in the Village. Number 58 takes Number Six to a cave where he finds a drunken Number Two drinking illegal alcohol. "This is the therapy zone" he says and Number Six is given a drink. But as Number Six finishes his drink and keels over, Number Two is suddenly sober. The barman (John Cazabon) says "The portions are just right to take him through the election" and so it is confirmed that Number Six has been controlled in some way.

  Election day. Ballot boxes. Number Six's box is overflowing. There are cheers from outside "We want Number Two!" Defeated, Number Two hands his ribbon over to Number Six. Outside the old Number Two raises Number Six's arm in front of the crowd but they are silent. Miserable looking even. A taxi takes them both to the green dome with Number 58, who then encourages Number Six inside and Number Two leaves. Number 58 enthusiastically plays with all the dials and switches and then Number Six also joins in. The large screen shows lights whizzing by and Number Six is transfixed by it. Number 58 takes his '2' ribbon off, clicks her fingers, slaps him repeatedly, saying "tic tic tic" over and over. Number Six comes out of the daze and grabs one of the phones. "This is our chance! Take it! Now! I will mobilise all electronic controls. Listen to me - you are free to go! You are free! Free! Free!"

Hair tied back now she's in charge
  Two men appear and try to grab Number Six. He runs back out the door and fights with several men. They are all wearing sunglasses inside, reminding me of Presidential bodyguards in numerous films. Number Six takes quite a beating. He is dragged back into Number Two's control room to find Number 58 standing there, wearing the '2' ribbon. In perfect English she says "Will you never learn? This is only the beginning. We have many ways but we don't wish to damage you permanently. Are you ready to talk?" He is not. Number Six is taken away on a bed and carried back to his house.

  Like several of the episodes, 'Free For All' is one where I cannot help but feel sorry for Number Six. He is allowed to get so far, allowed to think he has won, that he can escape, but then it is all snatched away right at the end. It is the Village proving that it cannot be beaten, that even when you think you have control they still know exactly what they are doing and will get their own way in the end. This episode ridicules elections, campaigning and the press. In the Village, Number Six's 'chance' to become the new leader is really just an excuse for them to bring someone else in. Someone new takes over but the regime is going to remain almost exactly the same.

  We get some hints about Number One in this episode. At the beginning of the episode Number Two calls Number Six, wanting to meet with him. "The mountain can come to Muhammad." The front door opens, with Number Two standing there. "Muhammad?" he asks. "Everest, I presume?" Number Six answers. "Where's Number One?" "At the summit." At the top, in a higher place, he's worked his way up? That can be taken to mean a lot of things. Shortly afterwards they discuss the election. "What physically happens if I win?" "You're the boss." "Number One's the boss." "If you win, Number One may no longer be a mystery to you, if you know what I mean." No I don't know what he means and I'm sure Number Six doesn't either. Number Two doesn't expand on this. When he says "If you win" is he really referring to the election? Perhaps what Number Two really means is if Number Six beats the Village, wins against the system, finally finds a way to escape. We'll see.

Be seeing you.