Becoming Bond (2006 TV Special)
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Looking back on the difficulties other actors have had when replacing a previous Bond, it's easy to see that Daniel Craig had to develop a thick skin as well as a muscular build from the moment his name was announced. In 1969 George Lazenby obviously could not compete against Connery's charisma, a fact brought home when Sean returned one last time in 1971. Two years after that, Roger Moore managed to make Bond his own by veering away from Connery's portrayal and adapting the part into his own (none to serious) persona. He kept at it for so long and the audience got used to seeing Bond grow older as the series did (remember that Roger is three years older than Sean). This made it exceedingly difficult for loyal movie goers to accept a 'rejuvinated' Bond in the form of Timothy Dalton in 1987. With only two outings, Timothy never really got a chance to build an audience and after a 6 year absence on the silver screen, the world at last was ready to embrace a revamped Bond in the shape of Pierce Brosnan by 1995. Gathering an entirely new generation of 007 fans, Brosnan's four outings were as popular as Moore's (the two of them also share a love for cigars as opposed to Sean and Timothy smoking cigarettes). This made the prospect of finding another replacement daunting indeed, especially now that everyone's a critic on the internet. When Brocolli and Wilson decided to cast an actor who looked nothing like any of the previous Bonds, for a while it looked like his fate was sealed before the camera's ever started rolling.
'Becoming Bond' touches on this (mostly internet based) controversy surrounding the casting of Craig by including snippets of BBC News and other influential websites. For a long time the press seemed to relish any opportunity to pull Daniel down. When he showed up at the Press Launch day at London Bridge with the Royal Marines wearing a life vest, they said he couldn't swim. Then there were rumors he couldn't drive drive a manual car. During interviews for this documentary, in which he is already sporting his 'Dark Materials' facial hair, Craig says all the negative publicity spurred him on to make Casino Royale great instead of better, and the gamble of rebooting the Bond series certainly payed off to such an extend that a lot of nay sayers turned their backs on Brosnan instead. It is mentioned that apart from Daniel, four other actors screen tested, but all of them remain nameless and none of this material is shown.
The bulk of the movie was shoot in Prague, where apparently no Bond Film had yet been filmed, with a side trip to the Bahamas to film Daniels Ursula Andress seen at the beach as well as the Parcour chase seen. But most of the 'grueling' three month shoot took place back in Prague. yes, you heard that right, film making is grueling. By this they mean the difficulties of keeping the continuity during the card game. All the actors were forced to endure Poker School, which led to lots of behind the scenes gambling going on between set ups (Michael Wilson was cleaned out twice by Craig). For her part, Judi Dench was glad she didn't have to be in any action scenes nor fool around with gadgets, even though she couldn't remember the title of the one in which she did . It was of course "The World is not Enough", but Dame Judy can't be blamed for being confused, most people have a hard time telling the last three Brosnans apart, not only because of similar story lines, but mostly because the (non Flemming) titles all had the the exact same rhythm and stance, if not the same amount of syllables. Lets hope writers Purvis and Wade decide to use another original Flemming title for Bond 22 (for there are still a couple left) instead of coming up with another one themselves.
One last question remains: for how many films will this incarnation of 007 last? Lets look at the numbers: Moore did 7, Connery 6, Brosnan 4, Dalton 2 and Lazenby 1. That leaves either # 5 or 3 open for Daniel Craig.
7 out of 10
Rob Brydon narrates this documentary. It has the usual clips of interviews with cast and crew. But, "Becoming Bond" is a good two notches above most of these background specials on the making of movies. For one thing, it introduces Daniel Craig and tells about the hunt for a new James Bond. The film has snippets from the Oct. 14, 2005, EON press conference. Producers announced the end of their two-year search, introduced Craig, and told of their plans for the new film.
The background on the legal entanglements is very interesting. The first novel was made into a 1967 spoof that starred David Niven. With the new film, the producers return to the book for the serious side of Bond.
The overall quality of this documentary is well above most similar shorts. Some of the interviews and film segments are especially interesting. One is the segment with French athlete Sebastian Foucan. He does the exceptional running, leaping and other athletic maneuvers in the opening chase scenes of "Casino Royale." Foucan is the co-founder of the sport of parkour, or free running.
The film has interviews with the producers, director, screenwriters, stunt coordinator casting director, and others of the crew. Ben Cooke comments on his role as Craig's double for stunts. Besides Foucan and Craig, other actors interviewed are Judi Dench (M), Eva Green (Vesper), Caterina Murino (Solange), Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chiffre), and Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter).
This is a very good and interesting short film on the sixth star of the Bond series and the making of the first Fleming novel into a film.