Sunday, November 11, 2012

Skyfall Notations

Skyfall is excellent.
Because of the incredible quality of the film, as you can guess, I am still working at my post but this is incredible! I am in love with this film! I am deeply sorry that I don't have it up for you all ready, but here is something that would be worth your while to read in the meantime because it's all relevant and I a citing the issues all ready discussed herein: last fall I wrote on Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace in James Bond: Beyond Boundaries which examines the imperative rules of being an action hero and, in Skyfall, they play a crucial role in understanding what is going one between hero, villain and viewer.
Just as Bond stands atop the ruins of the "old" MI6, surveying London, so we are invited to join Bond on top and survey him, what he has taught us (and yes, action heroes teach us a great deal, if we are willing to engage them), and accepting Mr. Bond's invitation of "going to a higher level" is exactly what we will do. One way we can do that, if you will recall from our discussion of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, is to examine film references the film makes to increase its extra-topical vocabulary (please see Blitzchess & Chaos: Sherlock Holmes a Game Of Shadows). For example, when Silva has Bond bound to a chair and starts touching Bond, does that remind us of anything? Lawrence Of Arabia, when Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) was captured and,... raped by his male captor? It's an important scene in Skyfall and Lawrence Of Arabia has all ready been used in one other film this year so it's completely plausible (Prometheus, when David, played by Michael Fassbender, keeps quoting "The trick is, not minding that it hurts").
M (Judi Dench) recites Lord Alfred Tennyson's closing lines of Ulysses at an imperative moment of the film, and her doing so actually keeps her alive (metaphorically speaking) because her resolve and courage are strong enough to pass this test (again, metaphorically speaking; the complete poem is at the end of this post). In addition to the artwork within the National Gallery of Art in London we have all ready discussed (Skyfall & England's Greatest Painting), but will re-examine, this wonderful film--in addition to many other incorporations from past Bond films--gave us another stolen work of art, Modigliani's Woman With A Fan from 1919 (this is a short article on the heist of 5 Masterpieces Stolen From Paris Museum Of Modern Art in May, 2010 that would be worth your time to read while you wait on me, as usual). Placing a stolen painting in a Bond film invokes Dr. No which showed Goya's Portrait of the Duke Of Wellington on display (and this is an interesting article on who stole the Goya painting and why).  We'll examine why Bond films would want to continue with this trend of featuring stolen art.
We will examine this painting in my post. In the meantime, ask yourself, why would this painting be the one the film would chose to incorporate? There are a number of other famous, important paintings which have been stolen, of all of them, why this one?
And last, if you haven't seen Skyfall, I bid you make all haste and GO SEE IT!

(Here is something to consider: when M recites the lines of this poem, she mentions her deceased husband; what other film has Dame Dench appeared in when her husband was deceased? Mrs. Brown, wherein she played Queen Victoria and won her Oscar. The actual quoted lines are at the bottom, highlighted).

Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an ag├Ęd wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought
with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner