Monday, 26 November 2012

You only Live Twice

It  remains puzzling the studio decided that the next film should in theory be called You only live twice the 12rth Bond and the last published book before his death although two others works were issued afterwards. The film bears little relationship to the book and there were lots of complications because it was written after Her majesty’s Secret Service and Diamonds are Forever both of which were to made after this film and both of which contain important events which related to the main content of the book. The studio and their writers were caught between  continuity issues in the film series and in the book with the most notable that in the book Bond starts off a demoralised wreck of a human being demoted and outposted to Japan on a diplomatic mission where by accident he find Blofield, the Head of Spectre and kills him. There is a rationale behind the series of evens in the book but not in the film made by Connery after the studio  upped his fee and on the understanding it would be the last film because he was bored and the work, especially promoting the film, prevented his involvement in other more serious and professionally rewarding opportunities.

It can be argued that the UK Secret Service had no business getting involved in what was escalating conflict between the USSR and the USA, albeit caused by Spectre on behalf of an unstated Asian power.  What happens in the film is that a second USA space vehicle disappears when in orbit around the earth when  tracked and then overtaken by an unknown other space craft. We the audience  know that this second craft is bigger with jaw like opening at the front which captures the USA space craft rather than destroying it and then returns to an unknown base where the astronauts are imprisoned. Why the USA space craft is not just blown up and why the  men are captured is beyond comprehension and is one of a series of ludicrous  aspects of this  appalling yet successful money making film.  One of the spacemen is killed when his lifeline is cut by the capturing craft. The USA is convinced this is a Russian effort as the  only other power with space capabilities, but the British say that their evidence is that space craft involved returned to somewhere off the Japanese mainland and propose to send their man Bond,

The film title is explained by the manufactured idea that in order to carry out his inquiries Bond should have a fake death. The cinema goers see Bond having an affair with an Asian girl who pushes a lever which raises the bed into the wall with Bond inside which machine  guns riddle with bullets. The bed is lowered to show Bond resting in a pool of blood but the upper body is intact a clue to everyone but the most stupid in the audience that he is not dead and that the burial at sea is intended for watching  enemy eyes. He is brought into a submarine where M has an office with Moneypenny where we see that he has a breathing apparatus inside the canvas covering. Bond lives again. In the book Bond is thought to have been killed when the Castle  building he has been investigating blows up before which he is has strangled Blofield to death after a fight. When he recovers he has lost his memory and lives with his girlfriend as a fisherman for  a long while with demise reported back in the UK. Pregnant she hopes he will marry her and settle down  but he continues to wonder about his origins and comes to the conclusion that he must travel to Russia and Vladivostok to find out. The main story has ended when his second life begins while in the film it is a device for his involvement in the main story.

Given that the USA was the main occupying power in Japan the only reason for the UK secret service getting involved was to recover from the shame of its main spies Burgess McClean and Blake being traitors and double agents for the Russians and understandably the American had closed their information channels to the UK as a consequence.

In the film on arrival in Japan in his new persona he is met by Aki the assistant to the young dynamic head of their intelligence service known as Tiger Kanaka. She takes him to see the local MI agent played by the actor who becomes Blofield in the next film. This agent is living  the Japanese traditional culture already abandoned by most urban Japanese and he is assassinated  before he can reveals all his thoughts and info to Bond. Bond chases and kills the assassin before being taken by Aki to the HQ of Osato chemicals revealed by the MI6 local man to be connected and where he manages to open the safe before escaping from the security guards. After this Aki appears to abandon Bond and rushes off into the underground and  along a platform then into a side area and where Bond following suddenly finds the floor opening and in a metal slide down into the secret underground office of the head of the Japanese Secret Service. This is a ludicrous device. The head of the Japanese service is called in both film and book  Tiger  because Fleming had travelled around Australia with a  journalist called Tiger (Saito) who becomes Tenaka and a Richard Hughes who becomes Dikko (Richard)  Henderson in the film, the local MI6 agent and was also the character on whom Le CarrĂ© based Old Craw in the Honourable Schoolboy.

Tenaka invites Bond to his home where he introduces Bond to being bathed naked by beautiful young women followed by a massage which is undertaken by Aki. Tenaka arranges for Bond to see the head of the chemical firm Dr Osato who knows this is Bond and orders him killed. Bond escapes from the building and in the subsequent car chase, Tenaka has a helicopter lower a large magnet clamp onto the car which is then dropped out of sight into the ocean.

Before this Bond had travelled with Tenaka in his underground  office train where the photograph of as cargo ship taken from the safe is analysed. They are able to trace the vessel to where it is docked and reloading in Japan but the location to where the photograph was taken is unknown except that the tourist who took the photo was killed. Why the photo and negative was kept and not destroyed is another ludicrous aspect.

Bond investigates the ship and is captured  after a series of fights to wake up in the cabin of  a Spectre member, another young woman who begins by torturing Bond for information but ends up his lover and accomplice flying  back to the capital on her way to betray the company for  more money.  She has second thoughts, bails out of the plane which she sets on fire leaving Bond to narrowly escape before it crashes.

It is as this point we are introduced to Blofield who is meeting with representatives of the Government who is paying for Spectre to create a war between the USA and Russia. Blofield want X millions up front and to make the point he gives a demonstration of the power  of piranha fish in a pool who strip a large joint meat to the bone in seconds. He then interviews Osato and Helga, feeding Helga to the piranha and ordering Osato to kill Bond or else.

Tenaka  finds where the photo of the island was taken but aerial recognisance reveals nothing so Q arrives with Little Nellie a small transportable gyro helicopter with lethal extras including rockets and  mini bombs and apparently unlimited fuel as it is able to fly over  to the island and engage in a prolonged aerial battle with four helicopters which are destroyed. This is a great and unnecessary blunder by Spectre because it alerts Bond and the two secret services that the island or close to it is important and requires closer examination.

Instead of sending in appropriate forces Bond  spend time training in martial arts as part of a Ninja school organised by Tenaka and prepared to land on the island with the 100 men as local fisherman and peasants with again for some unexplained reason Bond has to look like a  local as well as dress up as one. This reminds of the make up of Marlon Brando in Tea House of the August Moon( setting up a traditional  Geisha establishment).

Before he commences on this part of the mission a further attempt on his life leads to the death of Aki. It is not explained that while the Ninja  off to the island on their own Bond  needs a local wife other than to show a local marriage ceremony a collective Madam Butterfly style event  to the cinema audience. It is rubbish.

A Russian spacecraft has now been taken which inflames tensions between the two superpowers and the USA government brings forward plans for the next launching placing its forces on high alert and warning the Russians to expect retaliation if anything happens to the craft or its  men.  Bond and his new wife make  a visit to  the island exploring what appears to be a tunnel access into something underground via the sea but they have to withdraw because of gas. They then climb to the rim of volcano and witness a helicopter disappearing below the lake which they find is made of metal, The girl is sent back to warn the others while Bond waits for the opportunity to enter whatever is  underground, There girl is shot at when in the water and disappears under the sea although we are confident she will survive somehow. Bond gets his opportunity, releases the USA astronauts and attempts to replace one of the astronauts setting off to capture the  USA spacecraft. He is spotted and revealed to be Bond and typical of the series instead of immediately executing him Blofield wants him to witness his triumph, a failing of every villain in every film and which is irrational action on the part of the  baddies. It does not make sense.

The Ninja’s arrive but  find  there are machine guns in the rim of the volcano and they have to retreat or be lost. Then Bond gets the opportunity to open the roof and they commence to descend but a fierce battle emerges.  Blofield seals the unit but prepares to exist and other members of the team begin to exit by a second entrance down a flight of stairs which taken people into the tunnel and out to sea. Bond manages to break into the control centre and abort the rocket just before it captures the USA craft and starts World War 3. Before Blofield leaves  he sets of a self destruct explosion  so every leave in a panic via the tunnel which involves swimming out to the open sea before the island explodes.

Support planes then drop life craft and Bond the girl get into one and drift into the open sea on their own. Just when Bond thinks he is to consummate their relation they find that a submarine surfaces with  their raft sitting on its hull.

As I have advised all this has nothing to do with the book where the story is very very different. Bond is a broken man after the events in the previous book, drinking and smoking heavily so he is downgraded  to 7777 and  joins the diplomatic section where he is sent to Japan to negotiate an exchange of information. However his information is of no use so Tiger makes a proposition that he investigate the activities of a Dr Shatterhand and his wife where guests commit suicide at his castle and presumably donate their funds to their host before doing so. Bond is trained as part of the Tanaka team with  an attractive assistant Kissy Susuki(!!!) and becomes a mute coal miner despite learning in the film that he obtained a First in oriental languages at Oxford. Dr Shatterhand is in fact Blofield who dresses up as Samurai warrior.

The two fight and Bond strangles Blofeld in a act of personal revenge before blowing up the castle. However Bond is knocked out in the explosion and loses his memory. The girl Kissy takes him off to live as a fisherman on a small island without communications where after getting pregnant she hopes he will marry her and settle down. Bond is said to remain restless until a newspaper articled triggers an interest in going to Russia and the city of Vladivostok because it occurs that he was a former Russian agent! The book was also something fo a disaster with the critics and public

Connery was  wise to want to leave what had become a travesty of the work  of Ian Fleming for naked greed, although if the public had not bought the tickets, then the studio would have soon directed their attention elsewhere as we shall soon see, when the studio attempted to provide a more serious film, it was not a success.

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