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Space & Environment
You Only Live Twice
Director: Lewis Gilbert
‘You Only Live Twice’ is a 1967 spy film directed by Lewis Gilbert. The film is the fifth instalment in the Bond series, and is also the fifth to feature Sean Connery as the films protagonist. The screenplay was written by author Roald Dahl, and is loosely based on Ian Flemings 164 novel that shares the same name. ‘You Only Live Twice’ is the first Bond film to abandon the plot line of Fleming’s novel that only uses limited characters and locations, that only served as the back story for a completely new narrative. The most compelling aspect of ‘You Only Live Twice’ is Ken Adam’s set design. The massive lair that is located within the volcano is one of the most remarkable assets within the film due to its notable design that presents an accurate reproduction of the initial concept art (Figure 3). The overall construct has a minimalistic appearance which creates the sense of immense scale that, in turn, fits well within spy filmic genre. The lair also subtly reflects the main antagonist, Ernst Stavro Blofeld through its hidden and anonymous nature which is comparable to his characteristics (Figure 2). The feature wouldn’t be a Bond film if the lair didn’t get destroyed in entertaining fashion, and the impressive ending doesn’t disappoint as the volcano’s eruption brings the film to a close. “Blofeld’s volcano hideout is one of the most impressive of Ken Adam’s sets for the franchise and it is a pleasure to watch it be completely destroyed in the enormous and elaborate battle that ends the film.” (Goldsmith, 2005) ‘You Only Live Twice’ consists of many visual effects that fit the nonsensical events that truly make a Bond film, however the lacklustre plot lets the production down, especially being the successor from its highly profitable 1965 predecessor, ‘Thunderball’. The effects incorporated were ambitious for their time and produced
an impressive visual display and also helped convey the sense of escapism that other Bond films pulled off so successfully. These elements made up for the un-compelling plot and its deficiency of strength, however if these aspects were produced equally aseffective, the blueprint for a complete Bond film was there. “Full of massive moments, most of which are completely ridiculous but memorable, ‘You Only Live Twice’ is a visual treat but lacks a lot of the depth and tenacity that can make a Bond film great.” (Reifschneider, 2010)
As cliché as ‘You Only Live Twice’ is to the Bond series with its imaginative gadgets, deformed antagonist, and its beautiful women; it falls short of being one of the preeminent in the series. The typical Bond themes are still present throughout, however it contains certain elements that still feel as if they needed extra attention for refining. For example; the Bond girls never materialise as characters and events that unveil to exclude gunfire or explosions do so in unconvincing fashion. Nonetheless, the escapade of typical suave Bond espionage, wittiness and style help to rescue the otherwise hollow plot, allowing it to not fall into the bottom end of Bond hierarchy. “You Only Live Twice falls somewhere in the middle of the 007 film heap, it still offers that unique brand of wit, style, and adventure that only comes with Bond.”
As a Bond film, ‘You Only Live Twice’ succeeds in many ways with its elaborate effects and designs, and its cliché villains, gadgets and spy qualities. However, without being under the Bond title, the film would not have thrived as well as it had. Even with the empty plotline, the film was triumphant because of the usual sense of adventure and excitement within the previous instalments of the Bond chronology.
References Goldsmith, L (2005) available at: www.notcoming.com; www.notcoming.com/reviews/youonlylivetwice/ [accessed online on 3 November 2012] Reifschneider, M (2010) available at: http://bloodbrothersfilmreviews.blogspot.co.uk; http://bloodbrothersfilmreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/you-only-live-twice255.html [accessed online on 4 November 2012] Berardinelli, J (2012) available at: www.reelviews.net; www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=642 [accessed online on 4 November 2012] Images Figure 1: www.moviegoods.com/Assets/product_images/1020/192773.1020.A.jpg Figure 2: http://movieevangelist.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/james-bond-you-onlylive-twice-ken-adam-set-design.jpg Figure 3: http://static.guim.co.uk/sysimages/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2012/2/29/1330509929029/Concept-artwork-by-KenAd-007.jpg Figure 4: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Ehj2prFWQuw/TqRRBm3vfI/AAAAAAAABfE/O_WI4Kp6Co0/s1600/you-only-live-twice.jpg