Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The New James Bond SPECTRE Poster & What It Says

THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT: with just a week to go for the film to be released in the US (the UK release all ready happening as this is being written) we have seen three trailers and none of them have given us a glimpse of Bond dressed in this outfit,.... why not? Well, as I speculated in this this important post, comparing Bond's look to that of Steve McQueen in Bullit, this is an "image" poster: it might not have anything to do with the film, however, this being the first image we have seen of Bond for Spectre, it demonstrates that he's up and ready for a fight: the hand-print signature gun is all ready in his hand and he's ready to kill someone, his stance to brace himself and arms ready to take aim. This, then, is a poster of action, even though it appears that Bond isn't doing anything: it's like the moment before David, the young shepherd, prepares to throw his rock at the giant, Goliath.  Even though it appears right now that Bond never actually looks like this in the film, it's an important poster in that it delivers to us the 'mood" Bond is in, the position and the mode of operation his character is psyched for, compared to, for example, the beginning of Quantum Of Solace when he wanted revenge for Vespers' death, or Skyfall when he was down and still shooting.  This poster shows us a Bond in charge and ready for whatever is going to be thrown at him (for a more complete analysis of this poster and the influence of Bullit, please visit this link here.
The teased new poster for James Bond's SPECTRE has been released, and it's an elegant work. SPECTRE will be released at the end of October in the UK, and the first weekend of November stateside, so they are slowly indulging us with information about the plot, but what I am most excited about, and I think what really sets Daniel Craig and these film makers apart from earlier Bond films (and, IMHO, these are the best Bond films ever) is that there is more of a focus on Bond the human being than just the plot, because the plot follows what we know of the man, not the plot making the man. So, here is a poster that was released before even the title SPECTRE was released:
Here is the "social-media-created-anticipated" poster released today, just as promised:
And here is the first poster they released, with the film's title:
Before a poster was released showing Daniel Craig as Bond, this poster of the Bond 24 Aston Martin was released:
But this all makes significantly more sense when we compare it to the poster for Skyfall that is radically different from the newly released SPECTRE poster of today:
Let's start with Bond 24:
This is a title card, a calling card or even a business card, but it says something important: London. The typeface is a clean and classic business font that echoes street signs and advertisements classic to London's atmosphere and culture. Why go with this as an aperitif? SPECTRE is all about London, no matter where Bond is in the film, it's going to be about protecting London all the way. We have all ready discussed at length the SPECTRE bullet-hole octopus poster and, at this time, I don't have anything to add to it at this time. But, what's surprising, and I think it's going to reflect the film, is the way and time-line in which they have chosen to do things,,...
These artists are quite talented. In the image on the left, at the bottom, please notice how SPECTRE (which imitates the "split" font like in the John Wick poster) is perfectly balanced by 007 beneath it, like a see-saw or a teeter-totter; this is echoed in the image on the right and, as we shall see, in the new poster released today. 
As director Sam Mendes said in the featurette we watched recently (I am re-posting it below), the film starts out in full action of Bond on the "hunt" for something, but we don't know what (it's been leaked that we might be as far as half-way through the film before we even find out what Bond is doing or looking for). So we would expect to see, first thing, the name of the newest Bond film with its star,.... no, that's not what they did. First they gave us the title, which was also telling us who the villain would be. NEXT, they give us,.... the car. Now, as I stated, I think there is an imperative reason why the Aston Martin was the second introduction to the film that we were given,....
No one gets anywhere in this film without a car, and the vast majority of the trailers we have seen highlight the massive car chases, so for the primary poster of the film to have Max and his car is just and fitting. SPECTRE, however, is giving us--before the human hero of James Bond--the mechanical hero, and spotlighting the car in such as way, as not only to recall it's long and prestigious history in the Bond franchise, but the role that it is going to be taking in the upcoming film. No one really bothered to mention how important of a move that was, and I think that was a big mistake in the film community.
Coming out May 15, Mad Max Fury Road features a lot of cars, and the "people" that we see driving their cars like lunatics are supposed to be exactly that, lunatics. Why? It's an obviously liberal agenda, and liberals don't like people having cars because of the gas they use, but a socialist government doesn't like people having cars because it affords them freedom of movement and they are harder to restrict and control. Making a bespoke Aston Martin DB10 for the film, and throwing in some amazing chase scenes, will make the car look as beautiful, inventive and necessary as MMFR will try to make it look ugly, excessive and destructive.
Now for the real meat.
Please recall, when Skyfall opens, Bond is in a bad position: he has to retrieve the hard drive lost by M or agents all over the world are going to be killed. Half-way through the film, Bond is in such bad shape, he's not fit for the field but M passes him anyway. Seeing how M treats agents, including Silva who defected, or something like that, strains their relationship and then, throw in Bond having to return to his childhood home where he was orphaned, so, yea, Bond on the ground, shots spitting up dust all around him, that is a pretty good image for how Skyfall went down. Please note also how Bond isn't entirely in the poster--the top of his head, part of his right side and part of his legs have been cut off by the poster's edges, just as part of the 007 logo behind him has been "clipped." Losing M, the old MI6 building and his childhood home (regardless of what he thought about it) all "clipped" Bond in one way or another and he was mostly depressed through the film (the dark blue suit he wears). SPECTRE presents us with an entirely different Bond. All four posters released for the film so far have kept to this monochromatic palette of gray, white, black; even Bond's personal features are brushed over to neutralize them. In the Skyfall poster, there is a considerable amount of black and white, which easily translates to the "black and white issues" Bond faced in that adventure; with SPECTRE, it appears there are going to be more "gray issues" and matters that Bond will have to interpret for himself and take a gamble on.
First of all, in the new poster for SPECTRE, Bond is alone: no one else is with him; he's not in a "natural setting" of any kind (like the desert scene with Quantum of Solace) or an artificial setting (like a casino), rather, the image is largely monochromatic. We fully see Bond,... except for his legs. Legs, as we know, symbolize our "standing" in society, so that Bond's legs are "cut off" in the poster, we might deduce that Bond's standing in MI6, or society at large, is in jeopardy or goes through some changes. Apart from this, the poster is remarkably balanced: the gun in his right hand is balanced by the watch on his left wrist (a symbol of "time" or, more likely, "history," since what Bond is hunting down is something from his childhood) but also the light gray of the background is balanced by the much darker colors that he wears; the dark blue/gray of his turtleneck (it's guarding his neck, so he's being careful about what is going to "lead him" in the film, so nothing can arbitrarily put a leash on him) and his gray pants suggest that we have a Bond who is on a pilgrimage.
Speaking of "legs," Mr. White is coming back! Jesper Christensen has confirmed that Quantum's character Mr. White, which appeared in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, will be returning in SPECTRE; that is a big surprise! Having been captured by Bond, Mr. White's "standing" in the Quantum organization appears to be troubled at this point in the film since he has been "exposed" (the pant legging cut open to reveal his leg beneath). Having been taken in for questioning, White has also "lost face" (the abrasions on his face) and will have to manage something to regain his status within the organization, if he can.
As we know, gray is the color of penance, because it's the color of ashes, and that's what people would wear (as a sign of mortality, from ash you came, to ash you return) when they were repenting of sins; the larger purpose of making a pilgrimage was as a form of penance for sins, and we can see, if it's something from Bond's childhood and it has to do with London, that is an apt way for Bond to be dressed. What is highly unusual, at least as far as I can tell, is the gun-holster he wears. I've been going through pictures and can't find any of him wearing one (although that doesn't mean he hasn't, it just might not have been shown before), but for a item that would appear standard for a spy of 007's caliber, it makes a striking statement: our shoulders symbolize our burden(s) that we carry; the leather straps suggest that Bond's burden is balanced on his shoulder, and he's able to support it for the job that he has, but it's made of leather, animal skin, suggesting that "animal passions" or appetites might be involved in what he will have to shoulder in this narrative. The straps are balanced, however, by his stance: he's not moving, but he's ready for anything.
The dark colors Bond wears says something else: he's close to achieving the perfect "death" for his character and state in life: he is, in other words, dead to things of the world, but alive to things of the spirit (which helps him to keep his integrity and moral compass in situations). Black is the color of death, and we know there is one funeral scene in the upcoming film, so we will have to see how, if at all, that will reflect upon Bond's own personal gaining of ground to achieve the desired zen state. I am assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that the gun Bond has is the one made for him by Q, the one fit to his hand print so only he can fire it; as we learned in his discussion with Vespers in Casino Royale, he wears Omega watches, omega being the last letter of the Greek alphabet. If this has anything to do with the plot, it might be that the Bond will have the last word on this "historical" or long-standing issue from his past and this is the time for him to bury it forever. We also know, because of an image released via Twitter, that it's a Seamaster Aqua Terra model that has the Bond family coat of arms on it; like the gun with his personal hand print signature, the watch balances it with another, distinct signature. 
The last important detail to be discussed right now is the title. As we have seen above, balance is important in the patterns the visuals are establishing, and it continues with this image. SPECTRE is perfectly balanced across the chest and arms of Bond, right over his heart (suggesting this will have something to do with it, a matter of the heart, which makes sense). SPECTRE, however, is being balanced atop the 007 logo, like the teeter-totter again; why? Quite simply, James Bond can handle all of SPECTRE on his own, and that's going to make for one seriously impressive film.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--Here is the Sam Mendes' featurette mentioned above. Mendes is only the second director to direct two Bond films back-to-back and, it sounds like, he might possibly be back for Bond 25. After Skyfall, Christopher Nolan had been approached about directing what is now SPECTRE, but he called Sam and convinced him to do it.