Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Secret Lairs - You Only Live Twice - Review

You Only Live Twice is an action spy movie made in 1967, directed by Lewis Gilbert loosely based on Ian Fleming’s novel of the same title. It is the fifth movie introducing the story of super spy called James Bond,(Agent 007) and also fifth in which Sean Connery played the main role.

You Only Live Twice tells a typical story of a super spy, James Bond (Sean Connery), who fakes his death and just a moment after being thrown into the ocean, he is being sent to Japan, Tokyo, in order to investigate the mystery of hijacked spacecraft. Many people die and many women dream about touching 007’s manly chest, though You Only Live Twice has not been remembered because of its plot. There’s something else about this movie that made it so important in the history of cinema.

“I see nothing wrong with having a lot of action while sacrificing a bit of character and dialogue, just as long as the movie is fun to watch.” 

Starting with the weakest point of the movie - the plot – it’s worth saying that it is nothing brilliant, nothing surprising, though still can be considered as ‘pure fun’. The movie itself is packed with action, fighting, gun shooting scenes and is trying to create an image of a perfect agent. It is working, yes, although Anthony’s opinion states that there is nothing wrong in ‘sacrificing a bit of the plot’. Unfortunately, You Only Live Twice sacrifices a huge part of its narrative, and there are parts of the movie when the viewer is not even thinking about the backstory of the characters because there is no story. It might be more subjective to state but this movie has been made for pure fun only. This is that ‘dark alley’ of the cinematic adventures, in which the audience can turn off their brains and let the visual aspects slap them really hard.

It is worth moving onwards from this rather harsh statement to the movie’s other quite important and visible aspect which Ebert’s quote presents in a simple and clear way:

“The girls are beautiful as always, but they (…) are just there, decorating the place, running around in bikinis and, worst of all, not presenting much of a threat to old 007 most of the time.”
(Ebert Roger, 1967)

1960s were years of women’s emancipation and seeking for justice. Many females fought for their rights and chances of changing their position in society. You Only Live Twice shows a completely different situation positioning women in the lower, or even the lowest class in the society. They seem to be only decorations or extras to the whole Bond image, nothing more, looking pretty and waiting for a place to fit in around the secret agent. They are only noticeable because they are beautiful but taking them out of the movie wouldn’t make a huge difference.
Looking at it from the other point of view would make a massive difference, as the women are meant to emphasize Bond’s masculinity and highlight the specific feature of his personality, thanks to which he doesn’t have to make effort in order to be surrounded by beautiful women.
Knowing about the historical aspects of 1960s, this may be considered as women’s free will of participating in such show, allowing everyone to think they remain in the lower class of the society.  

Filling the ‘plot-gap’ with only beautiful females is not enough. In order for the movie not to collapse, there had to be something more. Original gadgets, specially invented guns and even a flying machine would make no sense if there was nobody to fight with. Unfortunately, Dark’s quote shows the villain’s placement in the movie perfectly:

“Honestly we don’t have a ‘villain’ persay until the last 15 minutes of the film when we discover Blofeld is behind it all.”
(Reif Dark, 2010)

Having the volcano hideout, the deadly piranhas and the scared face of a true enemy, Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) only looks dangerous. It didn’t take Bond much time to defeat him and 007 managed to do it without even using all his spy gadgets.

You Only Live Twice is a movie which brings a message to all movie directors and producers – the balance between the plot and visual aspects of the movie should always be considered twice.

1. 1. Quotes:
2. Stills:
* Poster:
* Still1:

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