A look at the little people behind a big Bond picture
This is one of those DVD documentaries that tries to cover every aspect of film making from the very first letters the screenwriters typed. It's also exclusive to the Region 2 version of the DVD. It's strange to hear Renard, the bad guy from 'The World is not Enough' (Robert Carlyle) narrating this documentary. Producers Barbara Brocolli and M.G. Wilson explain how every story starts with a blank page. Next, writers Purvis and Wade elaborate on they're preferred method of collaboration: they sit in separate café's writing and consuming gallons of coffee, then meet up in a pub to compare notes. While in the old days Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman insisted on only hiring British directors to helm a Bond (a very young and keen Steven Spielberg was rejected twice), Cubby's girl Barbara hired their second New Zealander, Lee Tamahori (after Martin Campbell), to direct Bond 20 because she loved his 'Once were Warrors'. Focussing on the pre production phase of film making, Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould explains how there is more to effects and stunts than just blowing things up: adapting vehicles and faking the weather is important too.
We see Vic Armstrong trying out hovercraft's and writing the sequence on account of what's possible (this means more time in the pub for Purvis & Wade). As filming on location takes months of preparation, it's no wonder we don't get to see any cast members for a while (apart from the regulars, none had been cast yet). There is a lot of discussion surrounding the the amount of media coverage each installment generates even before casting has been finalized. Casting Director Debbie Mcwilliams shamefully admits she mentioned the probability of Halle Berry being cast while scouting locations in Korea and before she knew it, the rumors hit the front pages. Since the production wasn't allowed to film in Korea itself, and as there were only two Asian stunt men in the UK, they had to train some more for the Korean sequence. It's quite an interesting (though unspectacular) look at all the pencil pushers on the payroll. The people who do the actual work, and the perils they face, like late casting, changes of script and extreme deadlines on costume design.
Two days before shooting, the title of the film had still to be finalized. Purvis and Wade wanted their title to sound like Flemming. Instead they chose a title almost exactly the same as the previous two Bonds. People have always had trouble remembering the exact order of 007 adventures, but these last three Brosnans are nigh impossible to tell apart. Also, they decided to scrap the one tie their script had to Flemming's material, the previously unused character name Gala Brand (from the novel Moonraker). Gala became Miranda Frost, played by Rosamund Pike, who is the first mayor cast member to appear (accompanied by a loop of the intro from 'Diamonds are Forever'). As we get into the coverage of the shoot, the content of this documentary starts overlapping with the other features on the D.A.D. DVD, which most viewers will have already seen by the time they get to 'From Script to Screen'. The big difference here is that the sequences are shown in the order they were filmed as opposed to the way they ended up in the film. Last to be shot was the fencing scene at Blades (another leftover from 'Moonraker'), which got delayed several times, giving Rosamund, Toby Stephens (and to a lesser extend Pierce Brosnan) more time to work on their techniques under the tutelage of fence master Bob Anderson.
One interesting idea by director Tamahori that is overlooked, is his claim that 'James Bond' is as much a codename as '007'. It seems like every time there's a new Bond film, there are rumor that Sean Connery's playing the villain or Bond's father (or both). Tamahori wanted to have Connery cameo as none of the above, but as Brosnan's predecessor. The theory being that each previous Bond has either retired or gotten killed on the job. Barbara & Michael W. rejected Tamahori's conspiracy theory (though they did indulge him by allowing an American editor). However, lets take a look at the evidence found to support this claim. When Bond-b (Lazenby) took over from Bond-a (Connery), he actually mentioned 'the other feller' before the titles rolled. Later in the same picture, Blofeld (who has undergone a face change himself) does not recognize Bond-b. In the next installment, Bond-a returns to exact revenge on Blofeld (who is in the middle of changing his face to resemble an character from You Only Live Twice), but Bond-a never mentions the death of Bond-b's wife. In fact, he seems ticked off to be called back into action again after Bond-b's early retirement.
Further proof is found within the supporting cast. Bond's superior M. has been replaced three times to date. The third M (Judy Dench), even has an oil painting of the first (Bernard Lee) in 'The World is Not Enough'. Also, the second M (Robert Brown) was already working on the original M's staff in The Spy Who Loved Me (identified as Admiral Hargreaves). Miss Moneypenny has been rejuvenated thrice, and in the 1967 version of Casino Royale, she was replaced by her daughter, suggesting all incarnations are members of the same family. Even Q has had two incarnations, though the second and best know version managed to outstay all of his peers before finally being replaced by the John Cleese. The fact that Bond-f (Daniel Craig) has a completely new official bio (birthdate April 13, 1968) on the official site, and that is granted his double O status by the third M only seem to support the theory. As for the many faces of Felix Leiter, whom even Bond fails to recognize occasionally, are concerned, either he's an incredible master of disguise, or the CIA is filled with Felixes.
007 out of 10
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