Tuesday 11 November 2008

Cinderella drowning in the sea

This blog entry is inspired by this one and it is a sort of follow-up. As you all know (you, my very small number of readers), I am a big fan of James Bond. My wife has to put up with it a lot, but it makes it easier for her to buy me presents for my birthday and Christmas. One of Ian Fleming's best novels, and one of the least appreciated of the Bond films adapted from his work, is On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I have never been a big fan of George Lazenby who took over from Sean Connery, but he did have some qualities and in spite of all his flaws and the movie's short comings, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is still a very good Bond movie. I particularly love the first scene. Lazenby's Bond is introduced beautifully, and so is the leading lady, played by the great Diana Rigg. She has the role of Teresa di Vicenzo, who will become the one and only Tracy Bond before being gunned down by Blofeld. I hope I haven't spoiled everything for you here, but the ending of the movie is one of the many reasons that makes this scene works. There is also the fact that it is an echo of the introduction or Honey Ryder in Dr. No, except Tracy does the opposite movement: instead of rising from the sea, she goes in it, in a botched suicide attempt. Bond saves her life, but unknowingly he sets in motion a chain effect that will result in her death later on, leaving him heartbroken. Tragic irony: she will die only after she will have learned to appreciate life and abandon all thoughts of suicide. I think Fleming wanted to link both Bond girls introduction, as in the novel he gave Tracy the physical appearance of Ursula Andress (who is mentioned in the novel). But both Bond girls are very different. Honey Ryder is a survivor who had a rough life, Tracy lived in luxury but is self-destructive. While Honey Ryder was for Bond a flicking romance after he had gone through the dangers of Crab Key, Tracy will be a significant relationship to him. After Bond saves Tracy, he is assaulted by two men, whose involvment in the story is never made clear (are they Draco's men? Were they following Bond under Blofeld's orders?). In the novel, they are sent by Marc-Ange Draco to protect his daughter and bring Bond to him. Anyway, fight ensues, one of the most violent and exciting fight of the series and Tracy runs and then drives away, leaving her shoes behind her. Bond mutters "This never happened to the other fellow", which is a nod to Connery and a breaking the fourth wall moment I never cared about much. The important thing is that he picks up her shoes, like the prince would have done with Cinderella's. Like in the Cinderella story, it will ultimately lead to a wedding. Unlike the Cinderella story, wedding will quickly be followed by her death. Then there are the opening credits, with flashbacks of Bond's past missions, linking Lazenby's Bond to Connery's. I therefore give the pre-title opening sequence of On Her Majesty's Secret Service and the opening credits. I hope you appreciate them.


VioletSky said...

That was great! I've never been a big Bond fan, but now I think I'll seek out a copy for a lazy Saturday soon. Thanks. (and for the explanation)

VioletSky said...

bTW Quantum of Solace is opening here tonight - apparently this is the first one that doesn't have the Bond girls silhouettes. Too bad, they were always pretty cool.