July 1, 2022

James Bond, the spy they loved

Par Samuel Blumenfeld

Posted today at 01:05

Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, in London, September 13, 2021.

This is what is called an old couple. When Neal Purvis and Robert Wade enter a room, in this case the London office where the interview takes place, the two English writers each sit on the opposite side of the desk, without looking at each other, without even taking the time. to greet each other. They are not scrambled. This lack of consideration is a sign that the two men are so united that elementary politeness has become unnecessary. The taciturn air, the unkempt beard, Neal Purvis seems the more shy of the two. With his impeccably tidy blonde hairstyle, dressed more neatly, Robert Wade more readily keeps the conversation going.

Since 1999, when the World is not enough the two men are the official writers of James Bond. Six other films followed, including the new opus of Agent 007’s tribulations, To die can wait (released on October 6), a Bond to say the least particular which, after having been postponed twice, from April 2020 to November 2020 then to October 2021, due to a pandemic, will also mark the last appearance of Daniel Craig in the costume of the British spy.

The mission assigned to Bond in the current context of spectacular drop in cinema attendance is to relaunch the sale of cinema tickets, knowing that outside of Tenet, by Christopher Nolan, select Marvel movies and recent Dune by Denis Villeneuve, no big budget production – a Bond costs at least $ 200 million to produce and as much to market – never dared to hit theaters. The “majors” have for a year and a half chosen the platforms to broadcast their blockbusters.

Screenwriter of Bond, the profession is amazing. First, because the hero was created by a writer, Ian Fleming, author of fourteen novels of the adventures of the famous secret agent. Then because the function was occupied for twenty-seven years by Richard Maibaum, author of most of the scenarios, of the first opus, James Bond 007 vs. Dr No (1962) to License to kill (1989). Until his death in 1991. An interim was provided in the mid-1990s by Bruce Feirstein, on GoldenEye (1995), the first Bond with Pierce Brosnan, then on Tomorrow never dies (1997) and finally for The world is not enough, co-written with Purvis and Wade, in what felt like a handover.

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Most of Maibaum’s scripts had been adaptations of Fleming’s books. With the tide of James Bond’s dad having dried up, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade had no choice but to start from a blank page, except in the case of Casino Royale, first novel of the English writer in which appeared the spy.

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