Thursday, October 4, 2012

50th Anniversary Bond Rewatch "The Living Daylights" (1987)

As a fan of the popcorn, guilty pleasure, mindless entertainment aspect of the Bond series of films, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the films with the company of my brain. Maybe there is more to be found than escapism. Maybe some of the culture and thinking of the past 50 years has left its imprint…

This was the second Bond film that I had to watch rather than REwatch this time around. I had caught the other Dalton entry on television years ago, and, though that review will come next week, I was not in a hurry to see more of Dalton’s Bond. However, I was pleasantly surprised!

Whenever the Cold War Bond actually goes behind the Iron Curtain it automatically gets points in my book. That was the quintessential spy location at the time. (There was even some question about what would happen to the series when the Wall finally collapsed.) This film does a good job of getting its mid-eighties audiences as close to the real Eastern Block as it could for that time. The locations were Vienna, but they do look authentically eastern. Location was important for the cultural situation of the world in 1987 too. The world was on the brink of one of the most important and momentous 5 year periods of the century: the end of the Cold War.

The story begins with an exercise; a war game. Only someone isn’t playing by the rules. As the plot of this film plays out, we find that the whole situation is very similar. The Cold War had become a bit like a giant war game. Both sides postured and went through carefully choreographed exercises, waiting for someone to slip up. At this point most had grown weary. No one could know just how close the end really was. Reagan had just uttered his challenge to Gorbachev 17 days before the premier of “The Living Daylights.”

But there are always those who want conflict. This was not the first time that the Bond series suggested that the superpowers were not the real danger, but rather rogue elements bent on profit or chaos. But it was about the last time. Not that those rogue elements of evil are gone, just the balancing effect of the superpowers.

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