While Skyfall is “technically” a European film, I chose to write about it as it is one of the primary films of British cinema that has made itself a hallmark in the schema of the world, establishing itself as a global enterprise and brand while remaining distinctly British. Also, I chose this film because it is the first Bond film I’ve ever watched, and because prior to this class my knowledge of European cinema was quite limited (Which is, of course, not the case now. Thank you for the semester Sir!)
Skyfall, I later learned after watching the other Bond films, represented a departure from previous films in that as opposed to seeing the quip-ladden and witty and abjectly talented individual at his best, we are exposed to both his mental and physical vulnerability – a risk, considering viewers often want their heroes untouchable. But given the entire history and number of films in the enterprise, showing a weaker Bond in a sense even strengthened his character and character development, showing us a more human side of him – an ageing side of him.
A key element which has contributed to the continued success of the films is the adaptability of the storylines. The villains and their methods have reflected the social and political times in which the films were released(e.g., the cold war weapons of Dr. No). Eva Mendes character represented a new type of villain in that while the themes of the film still relied on the formulaic approach of beautiful women, explosions, fast cars and easily-defined villainy, this was modified to show Mendes’ character as someone who works i the background, and in the shadows – just like Bond.
The use of music in this film is also extremely well-placed and orchestrated. The films titular “Skyfall” was penned and sung by the hit British artist Adele, keeping the film distinctly British in almost every aspect imaginable – characters, location, and now, music. The use of music to enhance different scenes by evoking specific emotions is greatly exemplified here, e.g., the impactful scene between Bond and Severine standing on the bow of Silva’s yacht as they approach his island hideout, wherein Bond is, at this point in the film, back in full form. Again, Newman’s sweeping orchestration in this scene, entitled “The Chimera” (the name of the yacht), increases the tension and hints at the dramatic turn of events that lies ahead.
Ultimately, what captures us in the bond enterprise despite it technically being an action film is that it is not merely an action film. Aside from the quite obvious fact that it is extremely well done, it plays into the concepts of humanity, fragility, unique villains, beautiful women, in a way wherein it simultanously sticks to formula while not seeming formulaic, and in a way that doesn’t seem repetitive. The film exudes class, and a world we would not otherwise ever be exposed to except through film. It plays on our fantasies of the underground of the world and plays it out onscreen in all its glory.
Film is, I believe, ultimately about the experience it gives its viewers. This film and the entire enterprise left its mark on the entire world, and on us – as with the films we watched in class. All of which imposed on us in their unique narrativity an experience unforgettable, evoking a multiplicity of emotions and playing with expectations – playing with us – in a way we don’t expect. Regardless of if it is an experience of excitement, or boredom, or confusion, European film has this distinct capacity to always, always,leave us with an experience we won’t ever forget.