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Director Martin Campbell talks high-def Casino Royale and turning down Bond 22

14-Aug-2007 • Casino Royale

"GoldenEye" and "Casino Royale" director Martin Campbell spoke to this week to HollywoodInHiDef
about the Blu-Ray edition of Daniel Craig's debut outing as 007, the impact of the technology on the industry and home users, and turning down Bond 22.

HiHD: You are unique in the world of 007 for having launched the eras of two different stars in the series with the introduction of Pierce Brosnan in the role in “Goldeneye” in 1995 and now Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale.” Were you previously a fan of the Bond movies?

CAMPBELL: I love them. Like everybody else, I’ve always loved the Bond movies, beginning with “Dr. No,” which I took my mother to see in New Zealand because I’m a New Zealander (now living in Malibu). I avidly saw all of them. So, basically, I’m a fan. It was a kick to actually direct now two, but certainly when I directed Pierce it was my first one and it was a kick.

HiHD: We spoke to you prior to the announcement that Marc Forster would be directing the next James Bond film slated for November 2008 and you said you were not interested in helming another one at this time.

CAMPBELL: I feel that after the Pierce Brosnan one, I sort of said that was it, I didn’t want to do anymore. Then, because it his was based on the book, this one, and it meant there was a change of tone, then I did this one. But, really, the problem is, you sort of then start to repeat yourself. The character’s pretty much set and you just feel you’re sort of doing the same thing again, only different, you know. How Sam Raimi does “Spider-Man” is beyond me.

HiHD: Your "Casino Royale" became the first high-def (Blu-ray Disc) title to ship more than 100,000 copies.

CAMPBELL: That was a kick too. They just sent me my Blu-ray disc of “Vertical Limit” and of course I immediately put it on and it was fantastic. Looks beautiful on Blu-ray. Those are the only two (of my movies on Blu-ray so far). I wonder whether they’ll do “Zorro” (“The Mask of Zorro” and “The Legend of Zorro”)? I’m not sure if they will. I hope they do. Eventually I guess they’ll do them all on Blu-ray. I suppose it’s just a process of elimination. They probably do the latest titles first and work there way back and cherry-pick they good ones.

HiHD: You were quoted as saying the comparison between standard DVD and Blu-ray is "quite stunning and quite transparent to the master." I assume you mean the master film print.

CAMPBELL: Yeah, I did see a comparison here. They were very kind and took me up and for a couple of hours we were sort of comparing it. To be honest, I’m not technical in that sense. I sort of sat down and said to them, ‘OK, impress me.’ I was impressed. It does look phenomenal; you can’t get away from it. It’s simply staggering, the difference. You always think that the last whatever innovation -- like DVDs were to tapes – you think it’s gotta stop somewhere. How much better can it get, you know? I don’t know how you could get it better than Blu-ray. I’m not even sure you’d ever want it to be better.

HiHD: Are there any specific scenes in the film that you felt transferred particularly well to Blu-ray?

CAMPBELL: I watched the whole film from top to bottom, which is unusual; I don’t normally. But I watched it because the quality was so terrific. I think that just about every scene transfers wonderfully. Even on the dullest scenes, you know, like office scenes, which are normally pretty boring to actually shoot and really they are functional scenes. They stand out incredibly. You see detail.

HiHD: Did you find your eye wandering to the backgrounds?

CAMPBELL: I did, simply because I knew it was Blu-ray and I was just, sort of, interested in how much all you could see in detail that was there. It’s interesting, I think we’re going to have to, when I direct my next film, it’s something you have to take on board. You have to be a little bit careful with make-up, clearly, and especially you’re your green screen and anything you’re doing with visual effects. I tell you, it’s pretty mercilous on that if you haven’t done it right; you know what I mean?

HiHD: It will expose any tiny flaws, I guess.

CAMPBELL: It will, it will. And on the actor’s faces, I’m thinking, ‘My God!’ If there’s any sort of blemish at all, boy, you’ve got to watch it. So it is something I think you have to take on board with you when you’re making a movie.

HiHD: How familiar are you with the additional features of Blu-ray, such as the interactive components? Are you working on, or have you already created any Blu-ray-specific bonus features for what we assume will be an upcoming special edition of "Casino Royale?"

CAMPBELL: I hate to say I don’t know. All I’ve done is watch the movie. I’m fascinated by the quality of it. But that’s about as far as I’ve gone. I’m sort of busy at the moment looking at other projects.

HiHD: Do you get involved with the bonus features at all?

CAMPBELL: Well, certainly I have to OK the scenes that have been cut out. That’s good. I think people are fascinated by scenes that are cut out and I put most of them back into disc. I hope there’s going to be an extended documentary because they (documentary film crews) are with us all the time, doing interviews all the way through. The documentary on the existing movie (DVD/Blu-ray discs) is just a little short. I just wanted more. Whether anybody else wants more, I don’t know. It fell a little short for me. They are there every day so it could just be a little longer. Even the “Goldeneye,” I think, one was more detailed and longer. So I hope they are goinf to extend that.

HiHD: I’m sure it’s a marketing strategy to give consumers a little taste now and then come back with a more elaborate special edition.

CAMPBELL: Yes, well Bond is peculiar in that they release every other title, just before “Casino Royale” came out, they released, in England anyway, a sort of silver suitcase, with all the digitally remastered Bond films. They all looked fantastic, by the way. So they have editions and then special editions and special editions of the special editions. So they milk them, and why shouldn’t they? People buy them and that’s great.

HiHD: How important do you, as a filmmaker, think it is for the mass market to embrace high-def in general?

CAMPBELL: I think it’s incredibly important. I think we’ll all be high-def, won’t we? Obviously there’s a war between Blu-ray and high-def. I think Blu-ray will win it. But the truth is, I think everything will be high-def.

HiHD: Why do you think Blu-ray will win?

CAMPBELL: Well, it’s back to the Beta/VHS thing, isn’t it? I thought Beta was a much better quality than VHS. But, of course with the marketing and everything else, VHS won through. Quality difference here is minimal between Blu-ray and high-def (HD), although I did look at them both and, whether psychologically or not, I thought Blu-ray looked better. I’ll be buying high-def DVDs, no doubt about it.

HiHD: "Casino Royale" is available in Blu-ray but not HD DVD since it is from Sony. How important is it for the industry to unify behind a single high-def disc format?

CAMPBELL: I tell you, I think they should. Look at all the mess that went on with Beta/VHS. It’s infuriating sometimes. It’s like you get these different regions for DVDs and so forth. It would be so great to have one system that is unified right across the spectrum.

HiHD: Is there anything that the creative community do to help make that happen?

CAMPBELL: I’m not sure. It’s not so much the creative community but more the commercial pressure to have one system or the other. I’m sure it will be Blu-ray because something like four of the major studios have embraced Blu-ray and there’s (two) studios that have embraced both and, I’m not sure, but I think there is just one studio that has embrace (exclusively) HD.

HiHD: Would you be disappointed if the industry decides on one or the other and it ends up being HD DVD?

CAMPBELL: Absolutely, it’s gotta be Blu-ray because I’ve already bought the machine. (laughs).

HiHD: What is your high-def device of choice at home and/or in your office, and what high-def toys do you enjoy (satellite channels, plasma/LCD monitors, videogame players, etc.)?

CAMPBELL: I do have a high-def TV. I flip to the HD channels on DirecTV) when I can do that. Such a difference. We’ve all gotta embrace it.

HiHD: How do you see high-def impacting the evolution of new video delivery systems such as video downloads and mobile phone video?

CAMPBELL: I think clearly people are going to want to have this. When the quality is that much better, I think people will embrace it.

HiHD: Which movie would you like to see on Blu-ray?

CAMPBELL: “Lawrence of Arabia.” I would love to see that on Blu-ray. A film that hasn’t been digitally touched. There isn’t one visual effect in it. The whole movie as shot. I would love to see a movie that was completely virgin from visual effects. It’s a Columbia Picture, so no doubt we will get the Blu-ray version.

Thanks to `Q` for the alert.

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