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'You Only Live Twice' hits the screens in MI6's July Bondathon

03-Jul-2010 • Site News

To celebrate the spate of upcoming Bond film anniversaries and the pave the way to Bond 23, we thought it was high-time the forum (Keeping The British End Up) pulled together for an official review of the whole series.

A film will be presented each month for viewing, discussion and review; running in conjunction with the main site, overall ratings and a selection of the best reviews will be published at the end of the month on mi6-hq.com.

James Bond almost goes into space in "You Only Live Twice", the Japanese-set film under review in July's Bondathon...

Introduction

"Dr No" was a success. "From Russia With Love" further implemented this notion. "Goldfinge"r was phenomenally successful and "Thunderball" secured Bondmania in the '60s. In an attempt to move in this direction, out-doing the previous instalment was only necessary. Having changed their minds about "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service" as the next Bond film, producers turned to Ian Fleming's "You Only Live Twice". But... whilst trying to maintain that same level of hysteria of the first four films with the fans, did they go too far?

Ridding of Bond regulars in director Terence Young, scriptwriter Richard Maibaum, cinematographer Ted Moore and editor Peter Hunt, the producers insisted on forming a character based on their previous success with their seemingly "out-of-this-world" sensation - and out of this world they went. Known predominantly for his adult short stories, Roald Dahl was hired as "You Only Live Twice" screenwriter, borrowing only little from the novel - Ernst Stavro Blofeld (and his antagonism towards Bond) and the location of Japan. Lewis Gilbert signed on to direct, Freddie Young captured the film and Thelma Connell edited it.

Though the regular actors in the Bond films returned. Bernard Lee returned as old M, Desmond Llewellyn returned as the paranoid and impatient Q, Lois Maxwell came back as Moneypenny, nearly hearing the long awaited words from Bond and this time round, a bored Sean Connery starred as OO7. Though, after becoming uninterested in the role and after some understandably irritating incidents (like the Japanese paparazzi following him into the toilets for an interview) Connery announced this would be his last outing as the secret agent. But, as we know, never say never... again.

Iconic for the general public and fans alike, is this film comparative to the best? Some say style overtakes the substance here: the fecundity of the cinematography is overwhelming, the musical score (provided by the ever present John Barry) is lush and authentically Japanese and the sets are fantastically designed and constructed (by the much loved Ken Adam), promoting the timelessness in the Bond franchise. In the story department, some say it evidently lacks. Ditching the source material for a more comic book approach, while it is fun and entertaining, some James Bond and Fleming purists have titled this too over the top. However some ideas were equally clever, such as Bond "dying" and the Little Nellie.

Overall, the film is undeniably Bondian, filled with glamorous girls, threatening villains, amusing allies, new situations and exotic locations. Keeping the quality up consecutively can prove difficult for the Bond family, but still, a cartoonish Bond film here and there (though it continued much throughout the '70s) can accentuate the fun in the franchise, allowing for a wide range of tones. And in the end, it's your call. And what is your call about the film? You only live twice, after all.

- Introduction by FieldsMan

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