We Aim To Please
30th April 2019
Remembering Terry Rawling’s editing for 'GoldenEye'
The return of James Bond with 1995 was a win-or-lose gamble. 'GoldenEye' had to be much more than the film who introduced a new Bond actor or an attempt to revive a series that, for many, has passed its sell-by dates. It had to be a highly entertaining, dynamic and groundbreaking movie that could combine the best of the classic elements of James Bond with a modern approach that could satisfy audiences.
In the end, the film was a critical and financial success, and much of the credit should go to editor Terry Rawlings, who sadly passed away on March 23, 2019, at the age of 86.
By the time director Martin Campbell recruited him for ‘GoldenEye’ in 1995, the London-born editor has showed much of his talent with productions like Riddley Scott’s ‘Alien’ (1979), ‘Chariots of Fire’ (1982, for which he was nominated for an Oscar), ‘Blade Runner’ (1982) and ‘Yentl’ (1983). His fast-paced work in ‘No Escape’ (1994), Martin Campbell’s futuristic thriller, was crucial to shape his take on the 17th Bond film, which offered to the audiences an extremely cinematic, dashing and thrilling approach that was sadly missing for almost a decade.
Combined with the equally effective cinematography of Phil Méheux, Rawlings’ editing brought back the glory of the first James Bond films directed by Terence Young, with a touch of Guy Hamilton’s eye-popping visuals. The quick, and somewhat short and gritty editing for the close quarters combat between 007 and the treacherous 006 during the climatic Antenna fight are very reminiscent to the confrontation between Sean Connery and Robert Shaw in ‘From Russia With Love’ or the fight between Bond and Peter Franz inside an elevator in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’. Also, there is a unique sense of thrills that managed to Rawlings deliver to the scene where Boris toys with 007’s explosive Parker pen, or the seconds before the Petya satellite is detonated over Severnaya, with the digital countdown frenetically intercut with Natalya’s expression of fright and concern, prior to the first action scene protagonized by the leading lady on the series’ history.
The exhilarating shootout held between Bond and the Russian troops as the former escapes with Natalya from interrogation through the Military Archives also deserve a special recognition: few scenes since that assault to Piz Gloria in 1969’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ had such a terrific production quality and visual sense of dynamism and thrills. Who could doubt that James Bond was back in action after watching that single scene, replayed over and over by the young gamers of the 1990s in their Nintendo 64 consoles when ‘GoldenEye’ got its well-regarded video game adaptation.
Michael G. Wilson was once quoted saying that Ian Fleming’s writing style was very visual and that made adapting his novels very easily to the big screen. There isn’t, in ‘GoldenEye’ much of Fleming, but outside the film’s many action scenes there is a romantic moment that, thanks to Rawlings’ expertise, is played very beautifully.
As Bond relaxes on a Cuban beach and Natalya comes to comfort him, they share a passionate kiss, which –in a uniquely artistic touch never before or after seen in the series– fades into the candent fire from a hearth where the couple has consummated a brief moment of lovemaking. This was a very symbolic shot because it’s more oriented to romance than sex, even though it’s heavily implied that they have slept together, and it enhances the idea of a kissing couple melting into the fire of passion.
Terry Rawlings did his magic on the second floor of the improvised Leavesden Studios, usually listening to Vivaldi or Jazz on his CD player, or at least that is what author Garth Pearce tells us on his very detailed 1995 book ‘The Making of GoldenEye’. Martin Campbell remembers, on the film’s audio commentary available on most DVD and BluRay editions, that he was a very serviceable lad and that he did his job fast, having the material ready long before the director could ask for it.
Rawlings was the first editor to get a credit on the James Bond film posters, a concession he asked for to associate producer Tom Pevsner, who at first was a little doubtful but later changed his mind. The result of the film proved that the credit was well deserved.
After ‘GoldenEye’, Rawlings was still indirectly involved to James Bond: he worked as the editor for Phillip Noyce’s 1997 take on ‘The Saint’, starring Val Kilmer and with a small voice cameo by Sir Roger Moore, and the 1999 caper film ‘Entrapment’, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. In both productions, Rawlings was also again teamed up with Phil Méheux, repeating the success they achieved with 007 years earlier.
As we are heading to the silver anniversary of ‘GoldenEye’, we have to recognize one of the biggest authors of the film’s success, as we pay our respects to a very talented creative genius, truly an artist, who brought back James Bond to its days of glory.