December 05, 2014

The Latest James Bond Movie: SPECTRE And How The End Of The Cold War Changed Spy Fiction - Updated, New Bond Theme And Review Here



I am sure I have seen them all! Now another one to look forward to.

The Cold War offered a perfect backdrop for spy fiction.  Masters of espionage like Ian Fleming’s James Bond, John le Carré’s George Smiley and Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer squared off against their communist counterparts in a global chess game with highly calculated moves and obvious goals, risks and rewards. Betrayals and deceptions complicated the matter, but the enemies were clear-cut. British intelligence officer Smiley against his KGB counterpart Karla. Us versus them. “During the Cold War, any reader opening a spy novel understood the handful of possible conflicts they would find,” says spy fiction author Olen Steinhauer. 

“It would be East v West, or the hero against political corruption – greedy Westerners destroying their own system.”("Tinker, Tailor,  Soldier  Spy"  below.
"You Only Live Twice" above.)


Readers of Cold War spy fiction were drawn into identifying double agents (as in Frederick Forsyth’s The Fourth Protocol) and fantasising about the effects of brainwashing (Deighton’s The Ipcress File). We were presented with spycraft on a human scale, without the satellite surveillance and mobile phone tracking systems  of today’s hi-tech thrillers. 

Characters suffered from psychological as well as physical stress. James Bond is on the verge of a nervous breakdown after his new bride is killed in You Only Live Twice. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold ends with a devastating portrait of the effect of years of duplicity on agents constantly justifying acts at odds with their moral values. But there were pleasures as well – dinners in fine restaurants, romantic dalliances, vicarious visits to far-flung parts of the world out of the range of most readers, including countries behind the Iron Curtain.

The end of the Cold War made it necessary to find new enemies. “When the Cold War ended, the genre lost a perfect adversary,” says spy fiction author Joseph Kanon. Writers could no longer depend upon an easy polarity. “Russia remains, but as a threatening kleptocracy,” says Steinhauer, whose Milo Weaver trilogy focusses on relations between the US and China, just one facet of a post-Cold War world that has many existential conflicts: 

“Terrorism existed as a subject during the Cold War, but now, of course, it's become a primary source of narrative conflict. And the complex relationships between Middle Eastern states and religious extremists make for more fictional fodder. Political corruption at home never goes away, but the American relationship to European states has become more complex,” he says. “The rise of electronic surveillance and the hero-status of the whistleblower... these things are all excellent subjects.” For his 2014 novel The Cairo Affair, Steinhauer worked almost in real time, chronicling Libya and post-Mubarak Cairo during the Arab Spring.

New world order
After 1989 it was time to rethink the spy game in fiction entirely. “I always wrote about people groaning under the moral weight of the Cold War and begging to get out,” John le Carré told the New York Times after the Berlin Wall came down. “I'm absolutely delighted to be presented with a new pack of cards.” And he dealt them out into plotlines featuring the international drug trade, the Russian mafia, money laundering and corporate corruption. In The Constant Gardener (2001),below, which is set in “dangerous, decaying, plundered, bankrupt, once-British Kenya,” he takes on pharmaceutical companies who used citizens in developing countries as guinea pigs in drug trials.


Soon le Carré was writing of the international war on terror and American operatives who justify torture and extraordinary rendition (as in his 2008 novel A Most Wanted Man), and their British allies. His character Toby Bell, a rising star in the British foreign service who seeks his country’s “true identity in a post-imperial, post Cold War world”, bears a resemblance to Edward Snowden. 

Frederick Forsyth also has followed the headlines. He set The Fist of War (1994) during the first Gulf War. The CIA, MI6 and Pakistan’s ISI battled al Qaeda in his 2006 novel The Afghan. And The Kill List (2013) features an internet-based ‘preacher’ who calls upon radical Muslims for assassinations of leaders in the US and Britain.

Some contemporary writers have chosen to set their books in the past, in the certainties of the Cold War, or even the period before it, rather than updating them for the uncertainties of the present day. Alan Furst‘s atmospheric thrillers (12 to date, most recently Midnight in Europe) take place in the 1930s and early ’40s, when Sovietand Western intelligence operatives joined forces to fend off the growing Nazi juggernaut.  Joseph Kanon focuses on the immediate postwar period, setting The Prodigal Spy (1998) and The Good German (2001) in 1945, “a pivotal time, the beginning of the world we live in now,” he says. For Istanbul Passage (2012) he turned to “a neutral city near the Balkans, a perfect listening post, a mecca for spies and a prime staging area for the Mossad in helping rescue trapped European Jews.”

The Cold War may prove to be an unparalleled inspiration for spy fiction.  But the essence of spy fiction hasn’t changed. Readers expect identifiable heroes defending against external foes. What has changed forever is the starkly black-and-white nature the Cold War lent the genre. The more ambivalent spies, says Steinhauer, “go about their jobs with a measure of anxiety, dealing with the moral burden – the subterfuge and lying the job requires.”  Readers have become accustomed to seeing the flaws in our own system, and in ourselves, thanks to sceptical portraits by these masters of Cold War spy fiction. This era of clearly defined heroes and villains has given way to the blurred lines, shifting allegiances and ambiguity of today.

By Jane Ciabattari.


With thanks to BBC Culture

And now we have Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison In "Homeland".
Perhaps a more realistic slant or is it pure fiction?




See also:
Benedict Cumberbatch And Eddie Redmayne: The Changing Face Of Hollywood
as Cumberbatch was in "Tinker, Tailor,  Soldier  Spy.

Spectre of past glories in store for new James Bond film

It was the one word Bond fans have been waiting more than 20 years to hear.


Below: the latest teaser trailer and Christoph Waltz who is terrific in any film!


Not so much the word, but what it stands for: the SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.

 A true Bond fan reads that line in their head just as Joseph Wiseman recites it to Sean Connery's 007 in the first Bond film, Dr No: in the cold, clipped tones of a great villain.                                               


SPECTRE is the first and last word in classic Bond baddies, and its revelation overnight as the title for the 24th movie in the series will have fans stroking their cats with glee.

For SPECTRE is the wellspring of not only Dr No, but of Rosa Klebb and Red Grant, of Emilio Largo and of course, of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, he of the scarred face and long-haired Angora kitty, resplendent in his Japanese volcano lair in You Only Live Twice

The 1960s Bond movies established the super-villain as we know them: rich, ruthless and attentive pet owners.

The eccentric mannerisms, slavish devotion to world domination and inability to keep their nefarious plans to themselves (parodied so perfectly by Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) were all there.

But it's arguable the high camp factor was ramped up by some of the later villains such as Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me and Hugo Drax in Moonraker (let's not even mention Scaramanga's third nipple in The Man With the Golden Gun).

Some would say the world has changed too much to have a shadowy, power-crazed organisation led by a pack of sociopaths as a credible threat in a Bond film.

But then look at ISIS, using social media to drive its cause in the Middle East and recruit members, making good on terrible threats against captured foreign journalists, aid workers and others.

There is no doubt the Daniel Craig reboot has done great work re-introducing the 007 character and giving him greater depth and backstory.



Classic villains have enriched Bond plots since the beginning. 

But now an agreement has been settled with the estate of Kevin McClory, the screenwriter co-credited with inventing SPECTRE with Ian Fleming as the pair wrote Thunderball as a film script in 1961.

Good golly Miss Moneypenny it'll be marvellous to have a big, bold old-school baddie to cheer and boo again.

Director Sam Mendes, who helmed 2012's Skyfall and for whom producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson postponed production in order to secure his services, is not the kind of captain to let his ship overturn under the weight of silliness.

And the dream casting of two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as a character named "Oberhauser" (a cursory translation suggests the name means "top house" in German) adds some rather sparkling promise.

Having proved his villainous credentials in Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, Waltz could surely sink his teeth into the role of Blofeld without chewing the scenery.

But whether there is any acknowledgment of the past between the terrorist and the spy, or whether Blofeld is introduced afresh, is now what a long, slow 12 months to find out.

Other key revelations for the Bond 24 movie


  • Andrew Scott, above,who shot to fame playing Moriarty to Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series Sherlock, will play an M15 agent alongside Ralph Fiennes as the new M and Ben Whishaw as Q. However it's widely tipped his character will be traitorous, given Scott's brilliantly creepy take on the Napoleon of crime.
  • Dave Bautista, a former wrestler who gained worldwide fame as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy, will play a henchman called Mr Hinx.
  • At 50 years old, Monica Belluci will become one of the oldest Bond girls of the franchise - but certainly one of the most stunning and talented. Lea Seydoux will play Madeleine Swann.
  • Producers have worked with legendary manufacturer Aston Martin to create the DB10, which will feature exclusively in SPECTRE.
  • Filming will be based at the UK's Pinewood Studios, and on location in London, Mexico City, Rome and Tangier and Erfoud, in Morocco.  Bond will return to the snow once again, this time in Sölden, along with other Austrian locations, Obertilliach, and Lake Altaussee.
  • The film will open for general release in November 2015.

By Natalie Bochenski

With thanks to The Age

Sam Smith sings the latest Bond Theme from "Spectre":

Spectre review: New James Bond film is 007 at his best

This fourth outing for Daniel Craig as James Bond is achingly cool, as sleek and powerful as the silver Aston Martin DB10 that races through the movie. Plus director Sam Mendes and Craig are now so comfortable with the late-007 action genre that a relaxed wit 
percolates almost every scene. The recipe, like the car, now seems to be bulletproof. 
The movie opens in with Bond in a natty skeleton costume and top hat at Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade, and within minutes a gorgeous woman has been abandoned mid-pout, an assassination has occurred, and tens of thousands of extras are screaming as a helicopter goes wildly out of control. And we’re back!

Up comes the opening theme from Sam Smith, and what looks like Bond and a nondescript Bond Bird writhing about with an octopus — the symbol of SPECTRE or the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion first seen in Dr No and later with Blofeld and his white cat.

But times are a-changing at MI6, and human spies are heading for obsolescence. The new C — played by the Andrew Scott (Moriarty in the Sherlock series) — is a grimly smug civil servant, and would like Bond and his cohorts to be superseded by cyber-surveillance and distant death by drone. The old 00 system is seen as being on its last legs, but those legs are attached to the metal and physical muscle of Bond. He goes rogue with the help of Q played again in a variety of ugly knitwear by Ben Whishaw.

Bond heads for Rome and an assignation with Lucia Sciarra, a Mafia (and SPECTRE) widow in a black lace veil, who is less Bond Girl than Bond Goddess, played by Monica Bellucci. At last, we hoped, aside from Judi Dench as the former M, that Bond has an older woman. But while Bellucci tries to channel the Italian grandeur of Sophia Loren, Sciarra has rather a slim role, and the best female character is played by Doctor Madeleine Swann (Lea Sedoux) daughter of Bond’s old nemesis Mr White.

This leads to Bond’s new nemesis, Christoph Waltz who plays Franz Oberhauser, son of Hannes Oberhauser who appeared in Ian Fleming’s Octopussy short story. Bond and Oberhauser’s connections go way back and Oberhauser is head of SPECTRE — omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Waltz’s charm hypnotising, radiates intelligence. “And I came here to kill you,” snarls Bond. “And I thought you came here to die,” smiles Oberhauser.

The film fulfils its promise, with sequences free of overcooked CGI and full of real danger. 

The jewel is the midnight car chase through Rome. Bond is in the Aston Martin DB10, a silver lozenge of power that does 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds, and muscleman Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista) is the more vulgar red Jaguar C-X75. It’s a car chase that could have a soundtrack of easy-listening music, in a film that works perfectly.

By Kate Muir

With many thanks to The Australian

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