“Close your eyes and count to ten…”
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.
Sam Mendes returning to the Bond fold is great news. Not because Skyfall was the most successful Bond movie, the most successful British movie ever, won two Oscars and a few high profile gongs. It is not even because it was the first Bond movie for a while to become a cultural event, a film whose momentum and qualities both shook and stirred the public’s consciousness and stoked the anticipation for what James does next in a way possibly not seen since the 1960s. No, Sam Mendes returning to direct Bond 24 is great news as the Bond series is in a new golden age of confidence and impetus. With 2012’s fiftieth anniversary bench-marker Skyfall pulling all sorts of clever doves out of Baron Samedi’s top hat, the pressure is naturally there for all involved to find a new hat to pull some tricks from.
Can lightning be trapped in an empty Bollinger bottle twice? Of course it can. 007 producers Eon Productions have a whole cellar full of lightning bottles. But I doubt Bond 24 will be Skyfall Too – Back to the Chapel. It will no doubt take its predecessor’s baton and sprint with it like a gym-fit Daniel Craig. Yet it will be a totally different kettle of SPECTRE piranhas. Heck, there may even be some SPECTRE piranhas in there. And a submersible Prius. With Union Jack airbags. Maybe not.
Yet it won’t retread. We are in era of Bond directors with firm creative signatures of their own. Mendes’ tends towards films exploring what circumstances and the wider facets of society does to people. Respectively American Beauty, Road To Perdition, Revolutionary Road and Skyfall are a turn of the century classic, an ode to gangsterdom, a bitter stab at suburban nirvana and a home-soil vendetta. They are Sam Mendes looking at what wider circumstances, societal structures and defence mechanisms do to the common man. Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva (Skyfall) is no different to Kevin Spacey’s Lester Burnham (American Beauty). Both have been chewed up and spat out by life. And both allow Mendes to have fun with how they stick up two fingers to the world. Likewise Jake Gyllenhaal in Jarhead and Away We Go’s Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski are striving to not let the same happen to them. There are lot of roads to perdition in Sam Mendes work. There is no reason to question why a new facet of Bond will not be explored, another internal scar creating external damage laid bare. That is the world of Fleming. And that is the DNA of Bond onscreen.
But along Mendes’ story paths there is a playfulness and wit. Lester Burnham’s breakdown is a lush descent into suburban anarchy and Away We Go is a fun road movie peppered with non-centric eccentrics. Mendes is currently executive producing Penny Dreadful under the auspices of his own creative company Neal Street Productions (Call The Midwife and The Hollow Crown – which of course saw Skyfall’s Ben Wishaw recently scoop the Best Actor BAFTA). Written by Skyfall and Bond 24’s John Logan, Penny Dreadful is a London Victorian re-imagining of the origins of classic horror creations such as Dracula and Frankenstein. A co-production with Showtime, the series is due to bite TV screens in 2014. This sort of baroque villainy has already shown its own teeth (literally) in Skyfall and could well flick a different villainous cape in Bond 24. With John Logan in the writing seat alongside Mendes, the end result of their 2012 ‘act one’ was a carefully arched Bond film marked by rich exchanges pushing the story forward through dialogue, character wit and drives (Bond and Severine, Bond and Silva, Bond and M, Bond and Q, Bond and Kincade, Bond and Moneypenny). The creative impulse to let the characters steer the story was a welcome one and wholly succeeded. Expect more of the same come the Fall of 2015. Skyfall ended with the orphan James Bond presented with a new family. Ben Wishaw’s Q is suggesting he will be back, as might Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Ralph Fiennes as the new M. But what about the bureaucratic Clair Dowar MP (Helen McCrory – whose real life husband and possible ‘next Bond’ candidate Damian Lewis is currently shooting Eon’s new co-production, The Silent Storm) and Rory Kinnear’s much-liked ally Tanner? And of course we may well see more familiar keynotes of Bond re-dressed for 2015.
Mendes clearly relished his time working with Eon Productions, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson. It is a team-led ‘family’ operation with working relationships and continuity much valued linchpins. Throughout the 1980s, director John Glen helmed all five successive Bond movies with great results, creating new fans in new generations and blasting the lazy detractors of that era’s output with aplomb (see this writer’s Catching Bullets – Memoirs of a Bond Fan). Sam Mendes will have already done the same. As part of a maybe three-act regeneration of Bond, Skyfall certainly has re-pointed the character for its guardians and its audiences new and old. The twenty-second Bond film relished the heritage of 007. My hunch is that Bond 24 will move forward from that. Or aside. The history of the films will not be sidelined. The much touted ‘formula’ of Bond is entwined with the heritage of the character, the films and those that produce them. Yet, Mendes will want to produce a brand new movie, a brand new take and a brand new project. He has never directed a sequel to any of his cinematic work (whose narratives admittedly do not leave much room for ‘what happened next?’). We all have our wish lists and suggestions (mine would be Barcelona, Washington, a bit of skiing and a Daft Punk theme tune). However, it is worth noting the curious skill of Skyfall was how it packed in wholly familiar turf for the Bond series – London, the Far East and Istanbul – yet dressed it most wisely. Mendes is not about reinventing the wheel, but how the spokes work. We are still in a time of relative studio poverty (Skyfall had to allegedly hem in its budget and the results worked). Bond 24 will no doubt have to rein itself in too – as best as a multi million pound movie can. But having financial and physical restrictions often aides creativity. The Bond series’ production history has always proved that.
For any director or writer to come into that Bond world is no doubt a daunting task. Next time round Mendes is no longer the new boy at school. He is head boy – a proven newcomer with a few trophies (if that matters alongside such global box office stamina) gleaming in the Eon cabinet. But the team at Bond HQ are not wholly looking to emulate Skyfall. They are looking to emulate the decisions, the discussions, the aptitude and perceptions Mendes brought to the table. Of course the dollars and the studios that gave and then counted them are wanting more of the same. That is simple business sense. But film-making – even on the scale of a Bond – thrives on creative relationships and continuity. It is about both project and product for Eon.
The Sony PR elves were forever telling us how Mendes noted his own Bond fandom launched when he saw 1973’s Live and Let Die. There are echoes of that film in Skyfall (the arched villainy, the deathly opening titles, the throwaway dead girls, the drama often playing out on familiar streets and pavements and even the shared double-decker London buses…maybe). The question now is – what Bond film did Sam like next? My money’s on a direct sequel to Octopussy. That barge had to pull in somewhere?!*
Mark O’Connell is the author of Catching Bullets – Memoirs of a Bond Fan (Prelude by Barbara Broccoli). www.splendidbooks.co.uk