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 The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles

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PostSubject: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:36 am

http://www.blackbookmag.com/movies/the-increasing-strangeness-of-james-bond-titles-1.47774

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In November of this year, SkyFall, the 23rd James Bond film, will be released and thus the word SkyFall will, for at least a little while, become part of the English lexicon. That is ridiculous enough since, what is a SkyFall anyway? It's ridiculously gnomic. And, since in two years time, when, as MGM announced at CinemaCon, James Bond will return to the big screen again in an as yet unnamed Bond flick, it might be a good time to pause and consider just how weird James Bond titles have become.

The Bond films began in 1962 with a straightforward title: Dr. No. The other films of the 1960s, what many consider the golden years of Bondhood, were either pithy Bondisms or the proper names of villains. This naming trend was established straight through the 1980s, as Bond transubstantiated from Sean Connery to Roger Moore to Timothy Dalton. Thus we have, Diamond Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, on one hand, and Moonraker and Octopussy on the other. Yet, somehow in the 1990s, when the mantle was passed to Pierce Brosnan, things veered to strange truisms and random word generation.

Brosnan's first film was entitled GoldenEye. That's cute, since the Bond author Ian Fleming's estate in Jamaica was called GoldenEye, but beyond that any connection was tenuous. Then we have Tomorrow Never Dies which sounds great but makes no sense, and The World Is Not Enough, which again, sounds lovely but from which meaning escapes like a villain through an open window.

At first blush, Die Another Day is sensical enough but really, what day? Had one died yesterday the point would be moot and one can't die tomorrow since, as we saw in 1997, tomorrow never dies. Admittedly, Die At Some Point In The Future, though true, lacks stickiness. Things really turned weird after Daniel Craig's first film Casino Royale. Whatever Quantum of Solace, his dark follow up, means is well beyond the normal cognitive abilities of the layperson. Sure, we know what a small unit of comfort may be but just because one can decipher something doesn't mean the thing itself makes sense. It's like ordering a cup of C8H10N4O2, instead of a cup of coffee. This leads us to SkyFall which, apart from coming out in the Fall and a bit of a Chicken Little reference, is just two words that were put together. One might as well call it AppleTeeth or FishDetergent. The point is, what? The 24th film will represent the point at which the number of James Bond movies will outstrip the number of James Bond novels by ten. Either the studio namer of movies is running out of vaguely debonair pairings of words or he's a fan of Exquisite Corpse. That, by the way, is not a half bad title.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:40 am

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH makes sense.

Anyway, all this talk about SKYFALL somehow being weirder and less comprehensible than, say, THUNDERBALL or MOONRAKER is nonsense.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:41 am

It's a lot better than TOMORROW NEVER DIES and DIE ANOTHER DAY.

Overall, I'm neutral when it comes to the title SKYFALL. I'm not wild about it, but I don't hate it, either.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:49 am

Yeah it ain't bad but it ain't great. It is what it is and I'm fine with that. Sure is better than a generic title you see Steven Seagal star in.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:51 am

BAD COP: NYPD
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:57 am

I still think SKYFALL is a rather boring title.
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right idea, wrong pussy
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:40 am

Harmsway wrote:
I still think SKYFALL is a rather boring title.

True, but the question is whether it's better or worse than "Bondian" sounding titles that have lots of uses of "die" or "kill". Personally, I think that while SF is a boring title, it at least doesn't sound desperate, as titles like LTK, TND and DAD do. So I'm pretty neutral about the title.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:03 am

Harmsway wrote:
THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH makes sense.

Anyway, all this talk about SKYFALL somehow being weirder and less comprehensible than, say, THUNDERBALL or MOONRAKER is nonsense.

The author of the article was stretching to make a point. Yes, some of the titles are very capricious and sound like they were randomly pulled out of a hat, but there are a lot of great titles in there as well, which the author seems either incapable of admitting or is ignorant of how the titles he/she slagged on actually work in the film. DIE ANOTHER DAY is not only a great title, but it works perfectly within the context of the dialogue between Bond and Graves.

LIVE AND LET DIE would have benefited from using the line in the book, but it still is very Bondish, and most people would pick up on this being a Bond title even if they weren't aware of it beforehand.

From a marketing perspective OCTOPUSSY was pure genius. It's just slightly racy enough to make people giggle, but the title addresses who is in the film. I see nothing strange about it.

QUANTUM OF SOLACE is just a bad title, and TOMORROW NEVER DIES would have made more sense if they'd gone with TOMORROW NEVER LIES (as was originally intended).

But the bottom line is that there is something unique and interesting about Bond titles; you know them when you hear them. You can't say that about every film series.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:17 am

The oddest Bond film title is surely A VIEW TO A KILL, which has no obvious relevance to anything in the film. Like, anything at all.

Except, of course, for the brief exchange ("What a view"/"To a kill") that's shoehorned in to "explain" it. Which doesn't explain it at all, of course. Obviously, Zorin isn't planning just "a kill" - he aims to bump off thousands. On the other hand, he may have said "a kill" but meant "a killing", as in making a killing by cornering the market in computer chips. Although it strikes me as unlikely that someone as brilliant as Zorin would get the colloquialism wrong.

Anyway, quite what the view has to do with Zorin's plans is anyone's guess.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:22 am

Gravity's Silhouette wrote:
TOMORROW NEVER DIES would have made more sense if they'd gone with TOMORROW NEVER LIES (as was originally intended).

Quite. TOMORROW NEVER LIES is a much more mysterious, more atmospheric and more Bondian title. It's a lot classier, basically, and I can picture Fleming using it (and, of course, it also makes more sense regarding the film's content, although admittedly it's possible that Tomorrow is sold off to a new owner after the events of the film and thus "never dies" - it would be amusing to see Craig peruse a copy of the newspaper in SKYFALL).

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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:44 am

It'd be nice if they'd start adapting titles from text in the Fleming novels. Even some of his chapter titles would work well.

But, someone at EON would have to pick up and read one of his books first.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:26 pm

right idea, wrong pussy wrote:
Harmsway wrote:
I still think SKYFALL is a rather boring title.
True, but the question is whether it's better or worse than "Bondian" sounding titles that have lots of uses of "die" or "kill". Personally, I think that while SF is a boring title, it at least doesn't sound desperate, as titles like LTK, TND and DAD do. So I'm pretty neutral about the title.
I think it sounds like a video game. Fits with such "meh" titles as NIGHTFIRE and BLOOD STONE, titles that attempt to evoke the mystique of the Bond franchise's one-word titles, but ultimately aren't all that mysterious or vivid.

I'd probably take DIE ANOTHER DAY over it. I've never understood why folks complain about that one. It's forgettable, but it ain't bad, unlike the nonsensical TOMORROW NEVER DIES or as bland as LICENCE TO KILL. That said, as far as generic "die"/"kill" titles go, the Benson books did better than the recent crop of films; as far as titles go, THE FACTS OF DEATH, HIGH TIME TO KILL, and NEVER DREAM OF DYING are more compelling than TOMORROW NEVER DIES or DIE ANOTHER DAY.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:28 pm

Mr. Brown wrote:
It'd be nice if they'd start adapting titles from text in the Fleming novels. Even some of his chapter titles would work well.
Fans are always bandying Fleming-derived titles about, but I'm not sure there are many spectacular ones left. I'm not overly fond of, say, A WHISPER OF HATE or THE UNDERTAKER'S WIND or DEATH IS SO PERMANENT. It'd be more using Fleming for the sake of using Fleming.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:31 pm

I wouldn't mind if they dug up MONDAYS ARE HELL and put it to use. laugh

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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:42 pm

Harmsway wrote:
I still think SKYFALL is a rather boring title.

I don't mind it, but I think I would have preferred the rumoured title 'Red Sky at Night'. Seems very sleek.

As for Fleming's chapter titles, I really like:

Crime de la Crime
The Elegant Venus
A Whisper Of Love, A Whisper Of Hate



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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:14 pm

"A Whisper of Love, a Whisper of Hate" is too long for a film title. Perhaps "A Whisper of Hate" would work, but the full title is simply too unwieldly.

I still remember pointing that out to the idiots over at MI6, to which they immediately responded that it should be a two-part film, with the first half called A WHISPER OF LOVE and the second part being A WHISPER OF HATE. Facepalms ensued.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:50 pm

Prisoner Monkeys wrote:
"A Whisper of Love, a Whisper of Hate" is too long for a film title. Perhaps "A Whisper of Hate" would work, but the full title is simply too unwieldly.

I still remember pointing that out to the idiots over at MI6, to which they immediately responded that it should be a two-part film, with the first half called A WHISPER OF LOVE and the second part being A WHISPER OF HATE. Facepalms ensued.

Yeah, it worked better as a tagline for CASINO ROYALE.

But, there wasn't much critical thinking going on over there anyways.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:02 pm

Mr. Brown wrote:
But, there wasn't much thinking going on over there anyways.
There, I fixed it for you.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:04 pm

I remember a lot of smiley faces and CAPS.

And, later on, plenty of tits. They didn't care for that, though.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:56 pm

And a cucumber.

I'll never forget the cucumber.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:03 pm

Loomis wrote:
Anyway, quite what the view has to do with Zorin's plans is anyone's guess.

I thought it's just meant to be a safe distance from the earthquake/flood. High enough to be able to see the destruction, and sit back in awe.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:56 pm

That's probably the intention.

Still doesn't make it any less clunky.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:08 am

FieldsMan wrote:
The Elegant Venus
Can you honestly picture that on a Bond poster? It's not a Bondian title. At all.
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PostSubject: s   Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:21 am

Harmsway wrote:
THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH makes sense.

Anyway, all this talk about SKYFALL somehow being weirder and less comprehensible than, say, THUNDERBALL or MOONRAKER is nonsense.

Agreed. There's no increasing "weirdness." The author's thesis doesn't hold water. Now whether or not the titles have become increasingly poor is another matter altogether.
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PostSubject: Re: The Increasing Strangeness of James Bond Titles   Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:27 am

A Whisper of Hate would be the ultimate Bond title. Surely it will be used some day, unless Micolli fear that such a title would promote hate, which the bumper stickers instruct us, is not a family value.

Another tremendous Fleming title would be The Fierce Possession.
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