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Apted On Bond

15th May 2013

Director Michael Apted spoke candidly about his Bond experience and shared his views on 'Skyfall' at the Dubai Film Festival

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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Michael Apted was perhaps one of the more unlikely directors hired to helm a 007 production. He's never been known as an action-adventure director in the vein of successful, two-time Bond helmsman Martin Campbell. Instead, his pre-Bond resumé includes a fistful of lifelike dramas and even a few documentaries. The director was recently in the Arab Emirates to partake in the Dubai Film Festival and pick up a Lifetime Achievement Award. Here, the "The World Is Not Enough" director spoke candidly about his days with 007 and his views on "Skyfall".

As part of his work at the Dubai Fest, Apted was asked to watch and comment on several local documentaries, which he described as a refreshing experience. "You look at a lot of Western documentaries and they're straining for subject matter or are just incredibly narcissistic vanity pieces, and I come here and see these films that are raw and powerful and full of vitality," Apted told Indiewire.


Above: Michael Apted recieves his Order of St Michael and St George.

The conversation quickly turned to a style and subject of filmmaking for which Apted had made his name, that of his fostering of strong female characters on film. "Bearing in mind that I grew up in the United Kingdom, the greatest social revolution of my lifetime has been the changing role of women in society," the director explains, adding, "I've tried to avoid clichés. I've never allowed women to be ciphers or caricatures."

This trait was one that he carried over into "The World Is Not Enough", with the villainess Electra King. For a while Apted didn't realise it was this particular characteristic that attracted producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson to the director. "When they asked me whether I'd like to do one, I thought it was a joke because why would they want me? But then I discovered it wasn't some great epiphany they'd had, they just wanted to get more women in to see Bond films."

Right: Michael Apted on the set of "The World Is Not Enough".

 

Although his action experience was limited and he has admitted in the past that he relied particularly heavily on the advice and guidance of his second unit director and stunt coordinator, Apted did have something specific to offer the Bond franchise. Despite his fresh approach he felt constrained by the traditions and realms of 007, explaining, "I'd suggest something grittier and they'd say, 'Bond wouldn't do that.' 'Well, why not?' 'He wouldn't.' They'd done 19 so I figured they knew better than I. But it does change and that's what's allowed it be as successful as it is."

And now, the tables have turned on Apted, who was willing to push the mould in 1999. Daniel Craig is a fresh, vibrant and new 00-agent and the rulebook has been rewritten. Nonetheless, this director and Bond alumnus is skeptical. He admits he enjoyed "Skyfall", but adds, "it isn't a Bond film."


Above: Pierce Brosnan as James Bond and Sophie Marceau as Elektra King.

"You go from Brosnan to Daniel [Craig] and it's different. As soon as Daniel started, it was much, much tougher. "Skyfall" is terrifically well done but it is different. There's a lot of competition in that marketplace for those kind of testosterone-driven action films."

When he was stepping into the directorial shoes, he saw the legacy of Bond as one of "pretty girls and the double entendres", but reflecting on the direction that Mendes, Craig and the producers have taken "Skyfall", Apted concludes: "maybe those days are over for good and they're right to roll with the punches and move on."

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