Thursday 22 November 2012

Shaken to bits

Well, I don't want to go to Istanbul now, not since James Bond broke all the tiles by riding someone's motorbike over the roofs of the houses near the Grand Bazaar, and wrecked the market and everything. I suppose we should just be grateful he left the minarets standing. Skyfall was very entertaining throughout its afterwards surprising length, but my goodness there was a lot of smashing and breaking and general destruction. I seem to have become my father, who could never see a car on TV driven over a cliff without muttering, "What a waste of a perfectly good Vauxhall" or sucking in his breath in disapproval when one roared along a beach with salty, rusting seawater spraying up underneath.

All the other Skyfall locations - London, Shanghai, Macau, Scotland - were places I have been, and it was fun to see them on the screen, some of them looking so much more glamorous than they were in reality. Sensible shoes and a backpack are no competition for a slinky gown and tuxedo, of course, but all those aerial nighttime shots of Shanghai really showed off its fantastic buildings to their best; although that flash casino in Macau with the Komodo dragons? Never saw that: it was clearly way beyond the pale for humble travel writers on group famils. Glencoe, though, really is that huge and barren and inhospitable -
As for London, it was fun to see so many familiar places, looking so ordinary: Temple tube station, the Eye, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery... Leaving aside wondering about the daunting logistics of filming in such busy places, and controlling such quantities of extras, I'm back to the thing about being distracted from the action by the locations. Of course it's a James Bond specialty to film in famous, glamorous places all over the world, but still - all that effort put into the special effects and stunts and so on to convince the viewers that it's all real, and yet so very many of them will have one part of their brains keeping up a running, and distancing, commentary about the scenery: "Look, I've seen that painting, I've driven along the A9, a pigeon crapped on me next to that fountain..."

Seems like a bit of a shame, from the creative angle; but with the first Hobbit movie coming out soon, the trilogy made with such generous tax concessions from our government, we'll be hoping to see a nice boost in tourism income from millions of viewers doing just that: taking notice of the background, and deciding to come here and see it for themselves.

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