‘Life isn’t everything’ chants Elton John towards the end of 1978’s Song for Guy and the beguiling dressing room opening gambit of Paul McGuigan’s Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. But life is everything if you don’t have much left of it, especially if yours has always been seen through the lens of 1950s Hollywood. Continue reading
Ever since its March 2014 launch, the London Film Museum and EON Production’s Bond In Motion exhibition has coyly gone up a gear or four. As well as being one of the world’s best public collections of Bond vehicles, planes, bikes, boats and submersible crocodiles, the Covent Garden based collection is fast becoming THE exhibition space for EON Productions and their ever-evolving 007 archive.
Fast on the heels – or DB10 tyre tracks – of Daniel Craig’s fourth spin of the Bond wheel, Bond In Motion’s Jonathan Sands and EON’s chief archivist Meg Simmonds have already judiciously added The Cars of SPECTRE in November 2015 and have recently swollen the already rich collection with yet more exhibits, props, costumes and artwork from the likes of Octopussy, The Man With The Golden Gun and more.
Already now the base of choice for many a celebration, spy-skewed launch and birthday kid’s imagination; Bond In Motion has recently held its own two year anniversary weekend in apt style. Marked over two days and fully accessible to the visiting public, fans and those curious just to know more, screen critic Will Lawrence interviewed key Bond personnel about their experiences and world-leading crafts. On Saturday 19th March 2016 Visual Effects Supervisor Steve Begg (Spectre, Skyfall) and famed stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong (Tomorrow Never Dies) took part in a public Q&A. On Sunday 20th March 2016 Catching Bullets was invited to hear the thoughts and reminiscences of costume designer Jany Temime and Special Effects legend Chris Corbould in a typically Bond bespoke day of insight, honesty and craftsmanship.
“We’re just a service department… to help the actor become the character” – Jany Temime
The French-born costume designer of the Harry Potter series, Children of Men, In Bruges and Gravity, Temime has also of course designed the costumes for the last two Daniel Craig Bond bullets, Skyfall and Spectre. Flanked by costume designs and exquisite drawings for both films (including the marked skulduggery of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival for Spectre and the various sartorial approaches to the likes of Swann, Severine, Moneypenny, Mr & Mrs Sciarra, Silva and Blofeld), Temime is quick to enthuse about her striking contributions to the Bond series so far. The creative brief for Spectre was “black and white”, to “go darker” than Skyfall. Temime relished the chance to up the ante whilst bringing vintage movie and yesteryear fashion influences she clearly holds dear. She wanted “a Fifties look” to Bond’s alpine wear for the Solden scenes in Austria – evidenced particularly in those bold mid-century sunglasses and “the very sleek silhouette” and “army look” of Bond’s dark jacket and trousers. She also wanted to echo that Italian sense of fashion and dignity in Bond’s funeral coat and suit.
“You have to love film more than costume” – Jany Temime
Hoping to join the EON crew for the next and twenty-fifth Bond movie, Temime has nothing but praise for current leading man Daniel Craig. “He likes his clothes”, she remarks, “he’s proud of it”. It was Temime who suggested we see Bond in the white tuxedo in Spectre. And not because of any Goldfinger homage or reference, but the whole “1930s style” notion of Casablanca, Morocco and Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine. Likewise Swann’s dining cart gown had to almost be “naked” as if she is wearing nothing as she makes her head-turning entrance for dinner and death. The dress in question was on display, enabling Temime to remind how a costume must not just look good or in character. It also has to work under the lights, to be able to withstand the scrutiny and eye of the world’s best cinematographers, to be practical in an action sequence, original and fully aware of the script. Temime notes how she gave more attention to the back of Swann’s evening gown as she knew the back of it would hold more screen time in the ensuing fight between Hinx and Bond.
Likewise she has very specific ideas for Ben Whishaw’s Q. Aside from the woollen hat he wears in Spectre being chosen for no other reason than Whishaw’s ears were going to go blue with the Austrian cold, Temime reminds how she has to fully read a character, their lifestyles, their tastes and spending habits. “Q – “, she suggests, “– is a man with money…he’s a geek into computers”. Of course he would have high end woollen wear, accessories and laptops. Two cats and a box of Twinnings Earl Grey don’t cost that much to feed, surely?!
Temime also likes to hear from the actors themselves. She was in awe of Spectre’s Monica Bellucci and utterly agreed at the actress’s suggestion of a veil for grieving widow Lucia Sciarra. Temime wanted her to have the outline of a bird – augmented no doubt by Bellucci’s killer heels and coquette-ish skills at traversing the “pipes and stones of Pinewood Studios” like a pro. She would of course disagree too. Director Sam Mendes always wanted Moneypenny’s Macau casino gown to be gold, but Temime was hesitant – “she will look like an Oscar”. “She is not going to be gold, she’s going to be lime” Temime recalls as she hints she may have cheated a bit and allowed the dress a lime tinge to downplay the gold.
But of course there was no downplaying on the streets and clothes rails of Mexico City for Spectre’s magnificent opening overture. The Day of the Dead backdrop was clearly a design treat for Temime and her team. Yet she notes how it was the Mexican dressers, designers and extras who educated her on where to go with the somewhat large task of individually dressing 1500 extras as well as three leads and a raft of support characters. Temime was most complimentary of the Mexican art school students who collaborated on the memorable sequence. “They explained and you understand the difference between party and death” she notes, “and Bond had to be one of them”.
Likewise Temime had a careful brief with Dame Judi Dench’s costumes for Skyfall. Realising the character would be dressed early on in what was ultimately going to be her final costume in the narrative (and indeed series), Temime fought against the spoilerific colours of black and death and pushed instead for – like Bond’s tuxedos – a dark blue that holds only the merest taste of black on film. It is that attention to reasoning – let alone detail – that marks Temime out as a key mind in the Bond production family. She is tasked not just with dressing the good and the bad of 007’s world. She has to get into the mind of the characters. She has to decide just what Blofeld would be thinking when selects a dress for a visiting Madeleine Swann (Temime’s thinking is that his mind was all over the place so he would pick something that was loud and busy). Naturally Temime enthuses over a rail of Craig’s blue Tom Ford tuxedos (size 38R no less) and Sciarra’s bloody and torn white suit as well as Swann’s Jimmy Choo footwear and that train gown.
I asked Temime if perhaps one of the greatest pressures for her is less the obvious need to make everything look forever amazing, but does she – the figurehead of the costume department – have to remain on fine sartorial fettle throughout? Is there an inadvertent pressure to look good each day? She jokingly assured me she never worries as she always looks good each day (and this session at Bond In Motion was no exception). Besides, who looks great at half four in the morning in a muddy British field?
I wondered too if there was anything she would still like to bring to Bond and a possible third film?
“Do you know when I started Spectre I was so afraid. I thought ‘Oh my god, I gave everything I had. How can I do better?’ And then – thank God – they gave me incredible people to work with. They gave me a great script. They gave me a great DOP. They gave me a fantastic actor. So it is not only me. I’m a part of it. And I hope if I have the chance of doing the next one they will give me a fantastic actor again, an amazing script and a fantastic DOP. And then those people will help me to create something that is maybe not better, but different.”
“And I hope if I have the chance of doing the next one they will give me a fantastic actor again, an amazing script and a fantastic DOP.”
Clearly endearing myself to Temime for utterly seeing the deliberate influences of Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky (1990) on Spectre’s Moroccan shoot (those desert train station images of Bond and Swann are very Bertolucci – as are parts of cinematographer’s Hoyte Van Hoytema funeral coverage in Rome) I later wondered if there is an era of history she has not yet tackled? Maybe not so much Bond, but any time in history she was desperate to tackle?
“No. I have been working for a long time”, she laughs. “I think I have been covering every single period of film. It’s no much the period, it’s how you want to access it. Because a period in itself is not that important. If it was then I think I would just work for a fashion house. It’s more how the director and why the director chooses that period. What does he want to tell about that period and how somebody from 2016 will look at the period to get something of it? So the period in itself isn’t that important. It’s what it expresses nowadays”.
“You make your own era as long as you have a good script” – Jany Temime
It is this insight to the Bond creatives, their choices and talents which Bond In Motion continues to herald. Far from a Bond petrol-head’s dream destination, the exhibition has matured into a fascinating and accessible platform for movie audiences to question and meet the minds behind their favourite movies and moments. It is worth keeping an eye out for possible future events and celebrations of our man James. It is certainly worth taking Bond In Motion for a new spin too.
To book tickets and find out more about Bond In Motion click here.
For a full photo gallery of Jany Temime and Chris Corbould’s sessions at Bond In Motion’s second anniversary weekend click on Catching Bullets Facebook page.
With thanks to Jany Temime, Chris Corbould, Meg Simmonds, Will Lawrence, EON Productions, Jonathan Sands, Rebecca Britton and the team at Bond In Motion and the London Film Museum.
With a growing archive of at least 15,000 illustrations, famed Bond creative hub EON Productions has collated a celebratory [and of course timely] coffee table look at 53 years of 007 design. Written by EON’s Archive Director Meg Simmonds, Bond By Design – The Art of The James Bond Films is a lavish 320 page tome – as much about the unnoticed artisans of cinema as it is James Bond 007’s glorious design legacy.
Straddling the various artistic strands feeding into the onscreen Bond – costumes, sets, graphic design, props, cars and stunts – Bond By Design explores the 007 design palette chronologically from Dr. No through to SPECTRE. As Archive Director at EON Productions, Meg Simmonds not only contributes to countless 007 books, articles, DVDs, auctions and documentaries, she has also helped curate, launch and maintain a triumvirate of Bond exhibitions. Designing Bond (which has just finished a summer run in Madrid), Bond In Motion (now parked up for a successful run in London’s Covent Garden) and the lesser known Exquisitely Evil (at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC) are all must-see branches of this ongoing project to mark and celebrate Bond’s production, sociological and cultural history.
As the lushly reproduced storyboards, charcoal sketches and hand-drawn illustrations evolve into rich marker pen interiors and beautiful water-coloured vistas before making way for the new era’s digital schematics and pre-vis imagery, Bond By Design is as much a document of late 20th century movie entertainment design as it is 007 – an opulent tribute to the lost heroes of movie design. The painted ponderings of costume designer Julie Harris (Live and Let Die) are as rich and relevant as any Cecil Beaton drawing for My Fair Lady. Anthony Mendleson’s costume paintings for 1965’s Thunderball equal any Edith Head etching for those balletic frames and never-ending legs. Donfeld’s watercolour illustrations for Diamonds Are Forever’s Tiffany Case are as luxuriant and era-pinning as any Vogue Paris cover or Robert McGinnis Matt Helm poster from the same time. And check out Barbarella’s Jacques Fonteray and his Moonraker suits and “Breeder” gowns! It is telling too how the ‘house style’ for Quantum of Solace, Royale and Skyfall ‘s digitally produced designs still hark back to that pulp fiction style of paperback cover art.
Of course the creative endowments to Bond and cinema from the likes of designers Ken Adam, Peter Murton, Syd Cain and Peter Lamont go unchallenged. Yet Meg Simmonds and the EON archive go further with Bond By Design. The end result is a rich reserve of those sleek sketches, languid watercolours and the vital scope of ambition EON and Danjaq afford these designers. But, Bond By Design also underlines the furnishing, decorative and architectural savvy these designers had [and continue to have]. The detail and notes Peter Lamont assigns a fairly incidental set and his clear awareness of materials, light, manoeuvrability and tone is as striking as any triangular ceiling of Ken Adam’s. And this is before the internet, online libraries and catalogued furniture archives. It is not enough for these designers to know their production and construction restraints. As this book testifies, they have to be ahead of fashion, erudite with what they know about the history [and future] of interior design and what will let all the global audiences into the story. And that is before you factor in the final challenge that twenty-four Bond films and their design teams increasingly come up against – originality.
“My job is to give them sets to work in that will surprise and amaze an audience”
Of course these designers are all sketching for the good of Bond and cinema. But Bond By Design lays bare their own characters. Ken Adam’s thick, dark and angular images for The Spy Who Loved Me and Goldfinger perfectly highlight just how he was indeed “the man who drew the Cold War” (The Daily Telegraph, 2008). Bond By Design sees those filmic and real life influences of his – The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Alexander Korda, that Germanistic penchant for precision and cavernous industry and a post-war, Space-Age renaissance of new materials and substances. Likewise, Peter Lamont’s career as a set draughtsman cannot be missed when you witness the mathematical precision he puts into each set, walkway or even doorframe.
“Never a dull moment working on a James Bond film, I can tell you!”
The devil is naturally in the detail with this collection. It is as much about what we never see as what we do. So costume sketches contain reminders that stunt teams have to wear wet-suits under Lindy Hemming’s red dresses for Casino Royale’s Vesper Lynd and notes hint at how Blofeld’s coat of arms from OHMSS must be technically wrong.
The what nearly happened clues are nearly as rich as what did make its way up onto the screen. Close scrutiny of the artists notes and thoughts betray that Solitaire might well have worn an afro wig in Harlem in Live and Let Die (with a possible early thought that Diana Ross was in the running for that film?), the scarlet hues and hanging bling of The Man With The Golden Gun’s Bottoms Up Club are now a VIP room norm, that Willard Whyte in Diamonds Are Forever may have had an unused office complex to end all office complexes, that Whyte was first called ‘Graves’, Tomorrow Never Dies’ antagonist was once called Harmsway and that OHMSS’s Syd Cain designed an abandoned dog fight for GoldenEye. Very little is creatively wasted in the Bond franchise.
“What the Bond films did, they stimulated my imagination. I felt the sky was the limit. I could do anything.”
It is the staggering specifics that go into these drawings – and ultimately on-screen – that makes Bond By Design such a valuable document for all film lovers, let alone Bond fans. The thought and notes jotted down for a simple flower-covered pillar in a party scene in A View to a Kill or the in-depth measurements Lamont makes for the flower elevations in OHMSS lay bare the commitment to quality first pioneered and bankrolled by the likes of Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and now well and truly continued with Barbara Broccoli and the man with the most producer credits on Bond, Michael G Wilson. This is the tireless effort going on behind, in-front and beside the scenes as hardened fans panic about gun-barrel logos infinitum on 007 forums. So much is actually designed for a Bond film beyond physical sets and theatrically-minded interiors. Gold bars, the front of Baron Samedi’s train, Bond’s MI6 logo, casino chips, Martini glasses, what ornaments a villain owns, is it to be a headscarf or a necklace a panicking tourist wears are all elements that viewers will never see and yet have to be factored in, designed, made and duplicated. This writer has always been a tad partial to a good villain’s logo. And those faux-corporate emblems are lovingly presented too including Zorin Industries’ try-out logos.
“I go with my instincts on every aspect of how I design films. It’s all emotional response to things”
Dennis Gassner, production designer on SPECTRE
SPECTRE is understandably not explored in too much depth this time round as a great many of its design and visual tricks are tied to its plot and story surprises. However, designer Dennis Gassner’s discussion of director Sam Mendes’s urge to explore “hot and cold” in the film makes utter sense for a Bond movie as does the use in Mexico City of those prime 007 colours – “red, black and white”.
As if it needs endorsing any more, this new champion of Bond production books also comes with a pair of glossy Ken Adam designs and a foreword contribution from Adam, Lamont and Gassner. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
Bond By Design – The Art of the James Bond Films
by Meg Simmonds
Published 1st October 2015
With thanks to Dorling Kindersley and EON Productions.