History and aesthetic of computer animation and virtual reality. Notes on Los Angeles in the 1980s and the computer animation community of that time. Miscellaneous commentary on the archaeology of the cold war, as well as notes on the esoteric knowledge as it manifests in popular culture, cinematic theory, the hollow earth, espionage, corruption in civic governance, the aesthetics of conspiracy theories, the failure of the cultural myth and other related topics.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
The Suspension of Disbelief, James Bond and Skyfall
In an economy destroyed by
globalization, the formerly prosperous citizens must look to
entertainment of various forms to distract themselves from the
poverty and despair of their lives. That is one of the reasons why such
entertainment has an importance far beyond its nominal place in
society. Thus the failure of a film to properly entertain must be
seen as not merely a disappointment but a form of betrayal.
All fiction requires some "willing
suspension of disbelief" in the audience to be effective. This
by itself is not a problem. That the spaceships in Star Wars made
whooshing noises as they went by never caused me the least concern.
The audience wants to work with the filmmaker and be entertained.
We want to believe that the mysterious "man in black" can
climb the Cliffs of Insanity and win a duel with the fabulous
swordsman Inigo Montoya, all in the name of true love. But when the
authors of a piece go too far and stretch our credibility, then the
suspension of disbelief may be revoked by the audience and the film
may fail to serve its designated role in our formerly great society.
That is a terrible fate for any work of fiction, and is to be
Everyone in the world knows that James
Bond is fiction, not reality. The author, Ian Fleming, and his
imitators, was writing entertainment fiction, occassionally informed
by the author's experience in Naval Intelligence during the war, but
not too often. Unlike LeCarre's George Smiley, Bond is
intentionally the slightly disreputable scion of a noble family who
drinks too much, sleeps around too much, and works as an elite
operative of the double-nought section of British Foreign
Intelligence. Although the original novels vary in their
believability, only occassionally do they throw reality completely
out the window, and when they do, they make up for it with colorful
villains and so forth. No, I never believed that Honor Blackman was really going to be able to take Fort Knox, but I was willing to go with it.
There are no hard and fast rules here.
The line between belief and disbelief in fiction is a fuzzy one, but
when one steps over it, then the road to hell is slippery and the
fall is complete.
Expectations may lead to an even
greater fall from grace, and that was the case with me and Skyfall.
I had heard generally very good things about this film, and I
expected a lot. I had heard that the new villain was very
interesting, and he is/was. The performance by the Komodo dragon
was exceptional as well. Even Q was generally amusing. But one is
asked to suspend a lot of disbelief here, an awful lot, and I just
couldn't do it.
The Komodo dragon may be simulated but at least is not completely unrealistic. I think they toned down the blood in this scene.
1. Nobody survives that fall
The fact of the matter is, when you are
shot with a high powered rifle and fall off a moving train 200 or so
feet into a rocky stream, you are extremely unlikely to live. Every
bone in your body will be broken, you will have internal bleeding,
you will probably be unconscious and you will drown, assuming you are
still alive. You will not be able to pull yourself out of the
water, nor will you be able to make it to a nearby town. Even if
there was a rescue team at the bottom ready to apply critical aid and
care and rush you to a hospital, you are unlikely to make it.
2. There is no reason for Q and Bond to
meet in a museum
They are in London. They should meet
in a safe house or other secure facility. If for no other reason
than they will have to adjust the biometric sensor on the revolver.
Its not as if they have to do the handoff in Moscow or something.
Also, most museum galleries these days have guards and/or
surveillance. Why bother ?
3. There is no reason to send Bond out
alone if he is not in good shape.
If he doesn't pass the tests, he will
know it. If they want to send him out anyway, then generally you
team these people up, rather than send them out as a loner (which you
never do anyway but which is part of the conceit of a double-nought
agent). There is no reason to lie to him about his condition. But
most of all, there is no reason for M to violate rules to send him
out. If something goes wrong, she is vulnerable to criticism. MI6
is not a little terrorist group reliant on a single person. If they
need to borrow someone from the SAS then they will.
4. Helicopters are very noisy.
All of a sudden we are subjected to an
immense number of plot holes. First, I don't know where MI6 got 3
helicopters worth of special forces in a hurry, unless they planned
this, but lets go with that, because worse is coming. Helicopters
are noisy, and they are on an island. I live near two Marine Corps bases here in Rincon del Diablo, and they are very noisy. Oh are you saying that they
did not have a lookout posted? And even if they did not notice
those incredibly noisy helicopters flying over the water in daytime
towards them, his many guards are armed with machine guns and I would
not be surprised if they did not have an RPG or two in their
facility. I certainly would. You can do a lot of damage with some
machine guns and a few RPGs on those big helicopters just hovering
Or maybe you think he, the bad guy,
wanted to be captured so he could confront M with her crimes. Sure,
that would make sense, except it doesn't. Once you put yourself in
your enemy's power, anything could happen. Someone could put a
revolver to your head and shoot. Its a terrible idea. There are
lots of other ways of confronting M, if that is what you want to do.
5. M turned Silva over to the enemy.
This is just crazy. No matter how
fucked up someone might be, he's your guy and he knows all kinds of
stuff about your organization that you don't want the other people to
know. He was your station chief in Hong Kong for Christ's sake.
They turn him and he could make your life hell. No, you recall him
and put him in a dark hole for the rest of his life.
6. Silva is so fucking brilliant that
he thinks its a good idea to get into a gun fight in Parliament?
I mean what the fuck? Manipulate a
jetliner to fall on them sure, but a gun fight?
7. What is this about the train crash ?
8. Attack Scotland with a crew ?
Why bother. Go home. Enjoy life. M
will come after you and then you will be in your place and they can
find whatever you want them to find. You don't really care about M
anyway, you have all that money to manage, and that takes time in
this volatile market.
9. Password in the Encrypted Text
But worst of all, in this day when cybercrime is so important, the idea of finding the password in the clear in the bad guys encrypted data is just laughable. That is too stupid, I am sorry.
I just don't buy it. I love secret
tunnels and old mansions but I just dont buy it. And why is it
called Skyfall? Is the sky fallling? Did I miss something? I must
have missed something.
I loved the villain, I love the
homosexual seduction scene, but it was not enough.
Not nearly enough, Mr. Bond.
I hope you will do better next time.
If you need a script consultant, do not hesitate to call.
For more about Ian Fleming and his
fabulously wealthy family see: