Being cooped up in the house for more than a month gave me far more time than I could use. I've spent the Mad Max trilogy starring Mel Gibson, I've watched dozens of Akira Kurosawa films - which in one I managed to turn into an essay - and I've watched eight Saw series films with some friends - online of course - although I also don't understand why I came along. And I've also started following the entire James Bond series, starting with Dr. No. in 1962.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service was the sixth film in the James Bond series released in 1969. I did intend to write about some of the earliest James Bond films, but this film is in my top spot for writing because it is one of the most popular James Bond films. interesting (and because there aren't any interesting new films to write a review for). The first, of course, is the first James Bond film not starring Sean Connery and being replaced by someone who hasn't even starred in any films, George Lazenby. Prior to playing here she was a model and commercials star, surprisingly chosen to play one of the most iconic characters.
James Bond, played by Sean Connery, is a dream for all men. He is handsome, he is good at fighting, he manages to escape death constantly and he is also very easy to attract the hearts of women. The James Bond he plays is the neatest Bond, the most charismatic of all Bonds. Even after every fight, his clothes were still neat and his hair was still in order. This is what makes George Lazenby's James Bond - who doesn't seem quite as charismatic as Connery - feel different from Sean Connery. In essence, George Lazenby is not Sean Connery.
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That fact is also played by the character George Lazenby himself at the beginning of the film when he saves a woman who is about to commit suicide on the beach. When she was rescued, and after successfully fighting two enemies who had ambushed her, the woman fled leaving James Bond, something that had never happened before. George Lazenby, as James Bond, with a smile said "It never happened with anyone before," which of course refers to James Bond, played by Sean Connery in the previous films, where he always managed to attract women's hearts in just one meeting. .
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Apart from George Lazenby, the second thing that makes this film interesting is how it feels so different from the previous James Bond films. At On Her Majesty's Secret Service , the film's story becomes more focused with James Bond in person. We get the opportunity to see a different side of James Bond than before. George Lazenby's James Bond feels like he has a heartier heart than Sean Connery's James Bond. Here, for the first time, we see James Bond falling in love.
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Indeed, he still slept with several other beautiful women. Even up to two women in one night (at different times, of course). But he seems to have fallen in love with the woman he met at the beginning of the film, Teresa Draco (Diana Rigg). Teresa, or who is often called Tracy, is the son of a criminal leader named Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti). Draco begged Bond to continue seeing Tracy, as her presence would have a more positive impact on her life.
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Yes, Tracy was previously known to throw tantrums that often upset her father. She even seems to be married, where she was left behind by her husband who left her for another woman, and already had a child who died of contracting a disease. This is the reason why he wanted to kill himself, and this is also the reason why his father begged James Bond to keep in touch with Tracy. James Bond would have agreed, if his father told the location of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Bond's enemy from previous films.
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Not only does the James Bond character look more emotional than before, this film is also the first time we see a Bond girl - the name for the woman who accompanies James Bond - also gets an insight that Bond girl didn't get in the previous film. Previously, all the female characters who appeared in James Bond films were mostly just to wash the eyes of the audience or just to be women who accompanied James Bond who disappeared afterwards.
Not with Tracy. Tracy here is seen as human by James Bond. At one time they were seen as in other romantic films, where they walked on the beach together, rode together, and toured the city together. The depth that the James Bond character has here may not be met until the Daniel Craig era which began at Casino Royale in 2006, where we saw James Bond who was not as "impossible" as before.
Then the third reason why this film is interesting is the lack of gadgets that both Bond and his enemies have. Previously we have seen all kinds of gadgets that ridiculous or outside the usually sophisticated, like a suitcase that housed all sorts of stuff in From Russia with Love , jetpack that Bond used in Thunderball , up sharply thrown cap Oddjob, the enemy of James Bond in Goldfinger . The only gadget I remember from On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a suitcase that contains a machine for opening a safe that doubles as a copier.
Does the lack of gadgets mean that this film also lacks action? Not really. The lack of gadgets means that every James Bond stunt has to look louder and here he does prove to be successful at it. Every fight scene feels more kicking than the previous film, where we can see every punch, every throw and every kick is more intense than the previous James Bond films. George Lazenby may not be as charismatic as Sean Connery, but he is certainly more powerful when involved in a scuffling battle with his enemies.
If you watch On Her Majesty's Secret Service and are reminded of Christopher Nolan's film Inception , then don't be surprised. Nolan called this film the best James Bond film and we can indeed feel the influence that this 1969 film brought. One of the most visible is the chasing scene of James Bond in the iceberg which we can also see in Inception where the character Eames, played by Tom Hardy, is chased by his enemy in the iceberg. This chase on the iceberg by James Bond is really fun, so Nolan also took inspiration.
James Bond characters are not only experienced by different film players, but also by the antagonist who is also James Bond's nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. If previously he was played by Donald Pleasence, now he is played by American actor Telly Savalas. The Blofeld we saw on You Only Live Twice and what we saw on On Her Majesty's Secret Service felt very different. Not only is it physically different, where Donald's Blofeld has a big wound on his right eye and Telly's Blofeld doesn't, but the plans carried out by these two versions feel different. Blofeld in this film has a plan that is not as ambitious or as wild as the plans he had before.
In the previous film, Blofeld planned to start a war between America and Russia in which he kidnapped each space rocket. His plan was very ambitious and sounded clever, because he was also doing it in a country that neither side had thought of, namely from Japan. Meanwhile, Blofeld, who is in this film, plans to spread poison through the twelve beautiful women who are in his clinic far above the beautiful and enchanting Swiss mountains. The twelve women actually came to the Blofeld clinic because they wanted to get rid of their allergies, but during their stay at the clinic they were instead brainwashed by Blofeld. The plan that feels lame cannot compete with Blofeld's previous evil plans, making him an insignificant antagonist.
The presence of Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld and George Lazenby as James Bond indeed made On Her Majesty's Secret Service feel like a different James Bond film. However, the presence of M and Moneypenny, played by Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell, remains convincing that this film is a continuation of the previous James Bond films. The presence of George Lazenby brings a breath of fresh air that this series really needs, with the movie You Only Live Twice already feeling tired. If when this film was released was considered a failure, now many consider it to be one of the best James Bond films - myself included - that can compete with other best James Bond films.
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