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More Joy #2: Skyfall - Laura Wise

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January 11th, 2013


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06:45 pm - More Joy #2: Skyfall
For More Joy Day(s) gwynnega asked for some musings on Skyfall, and, well....

Today was a day where at every turn I felt hemmed in and unhappy (for no real reason). Today was a day where I needed a role model, a kickass woman who could face with grace and courage whatever came her way.

Skyfall gave me TWO such role models. Who would have thought it from a Bond film?


James Bond is widely acknowledged as a male role model (Jay McInerney being just one example of a devotee, writing Dressed to Kill: James Bond, the Suited Hero in the 90s -- before Daniel Craig). His followers can buy Bond's watch or his car, drink his product-placement beer or other alcoholic spirit, imitate the tailoring of his clothes. While a quick Google shows that there is controversy over whether or not he's a good role model, he's the focus of discussion, observation, admiration.

What I love about Skyfall is that it gives me M and Eve, two female characters I find to be powerful and engaging. True, there's no branding for M's suits or Eve's separates. In fact, I'm not sure the makers of the film know how fabulous (in the double senses of FAB-ulous but also fabled, almost mythical) the characters are. But I know. I observe, and I admire.

The real-life Dame Stella Rimington, who was (per Wikipedia) the first Director-General of MI6 [EDITED: MI5] to be publicly photographed, is often cited as the template for Dame Judi Dench's brilliant M. However, Rimington was only DG for four years. Dench's M took over in 1995 and has only just... left the series, shall we say. And Skyfall meditates on what immense strength it takes to hold that position for so long, what bargains (bad and good) she has made, what power she has wielded. She is the public face of the service of the shadows.

In the opening section, it's M's decisions that is the focus of the story. This picture, which I've happily pinned on my Style board, shows us a woman in control, filling the frame. Behind her, the lines of the windows might seem to hold her in -- but no, there is glass, and beyond, there is grey sky. She knows the way to get out if she needs to. She's wearing a suit, just as a powerful male would, yet the suit's texture is different, the cut of collar brings attention to her face, the brooch is bold. The earpiece hangs almost like an earring. She is IN CHARGE, and in the light.

Who wouldn't admire her, even if some of her decisions are worrying (at best), even if she still must nod to the establishment requirement of a suit?

But Skyfall gives me another character to think about. Eve [spoiler: MONEYPENNY] is a field agent at the beginning, and a high-ranking aide to the new M at the end. I've seen comments that she's downgraded to 'mere' office work in the film's conclusion, but it's visually suggested that she'll be sharing duties with Rory Kinnear's character Tanner, which... doesn't strike me as particularly powerless, to be honest. She is not in a place to be ignored.

Eve, however, doesn't wear suits. This is probably a generational point, since the new, baby-faced (weedy little weed) Q doesn't wear establishment suits either. Two photos show the two faces I love about this character. First is a promo pic showing her in field gear. Where Bond in the opening scenes in Turkey is working (gorgeously, if completely ridiculously) one of his Tom Ford suits, Eve is dressed sportily in beige military jacket and white T-shirt, ready to move. Like M's suit, it is a female, individual take on a man's action gear.

The second photo is Eve in flame-colored silk separates in Macau. It's interesting to put this shot against the shot of M: Eve, too, has to deal with the graphic lines of the screen, lines which could contain her. But Eve has escaped the boundaries completely, her hand on the curve keeping her in her own space. Again, shadows behind her; however, she is generating her own light.

Admiration must be paid. ;)


Now, of course Skyfall also has a delicious, tough, lived-in performance by Daniel Craig, a wonderful emphasis on what might make Britain Britain, and great supporting turns by people like Ralph Fiennes and that Whishaw bloke. But what got me through today?

Thinking, "What would M or Eve do?"

May you have more joy, and may you have your own role models.

(17 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:singinglark
Date:January 12th, 2013 12:02 am (UTC)
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Oh, hell yes. Judi Dench's M was the central character of that movie, and the real story was her relationship with her agents, the people she trusts, who are also the people whose lives she holds in her hands. She is maternal and strong and ruthless all at once, and Dame Judi does a magnificent job of showing us a woman wielding power, and dealing with all that comes with it. Eve, too, is more than a match for James Bond. She demonstrates that tough and sexy are two sides of the same coin.

Skyfall, in some ways may be the first feminist James Bond movie. May it not be the last!

[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 12th, 2013 12:23 pm (UTC)
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The last time I went to see Skyfall, it was because a good (feminist) friend who isn't a Bond fan was intrigued by my description of the Judi Dench story-arc. When we left the cinema, my friend turned to me and said, "I am so, so glad I saw that. And Judi Dench is a big reason why."

Cheers and More Joy to you!
[User Picture]
From:stateless82
Date:January 12th, 2013 01:11 am (UTC)
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I really need to see this movie.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 12th, 2013 12:24 pm (UTC)
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You do! As I just said to singinglark, a good friend who ISN'T a Bond fan went with me the last time I saw it, and she was thoroughly captivated.

:)

More Joy, S!
[User Picture]
From:desdemonaspace
Date:January 12th, 2013 12:16 pm (UTC)
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This is a great post. I've seen the movie, but I just let it wash over me. This post made me think about what I saw.

Right on.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 12th, 2013 12:26 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much, and I'm glad this adds another layer to your Skyfall experience! I did love that movie. :)

Cheers and More Joy to you!
[User Picture]
From:heron_pose
Date:January 12th, 2013 03:38 pm (UTC)
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I'm sold. Hope it's still around out here.

A point: the bulldog on M's desk. I don't know who's idea it was, of course -- it seems obviously meant to echo Dame Judy's own tough face (a Churchill thing, perhaps?). But, the way she holds her head, the way the light falls, it's nothing like the misogynist joke it could have been (ha ha, look at the old bag, if you know what I mean).

Amirite? She could've really put on the total mirror of that little dog, but she doesn't, and so she merely shows up strong, and not at all ... jowlly bulldog-like. Maybe.

Beautiful post!
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 12th, 2013 05:28 pm (UTC)
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The bulldog is Important. I shall say no more. :)

I don't know if you would like the movie, H_P, but you're a whole lot more likely to enjoy it than most other Bonds! (There is one faily sequence, however, in a film that usually sidesteps the common Bond pitfalls.)

Cheers and More Joy, and hugs!
[User Picture]
From:janus_74
Date:January 12th, 2013 03:49 pm (UTC)
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I can't believe I still haven't seen this movie! Must be rectified as soon as possible.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 12th, 2013 05:28 pm (UTC)
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Do it, do it! :)

More Joy, T, and a great Saturday.
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From:mobile_alh
Date:January 12th, 2013 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Admiration must be paid indeed. Dame Judi for the win, as always.

Hugs and a restful weekend to you!
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 12th, 2013 08:55 pm (UTC)
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Dame Judi is so much for the win. :)

Cheers, ALH, and More Joy to you today!
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From:gwynnega
Date:January 13th, 2013 02:04 am (UTC)
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Lovely post! I totally agree about M and Eve's awesomeness.

::hugs::
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 13th, 2013 12:56 pm (UTC)
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I'm glad it pleased, Gwynne, and hurrah for M and Eve and you! :)

More joy, plus hugs!
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From:stevie_carroll
Date:January 14th, 2013 10:17 pm (UTC)
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I haven't seen Skyfall, but Judi Dench is indeed fabulous, as is Stella Rimmington, even if she did run MI5 rather than 6.
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:January 15th, 2013 12:47 am (UTC)
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Corrected my error, Stevie -- thanks for the fact-check!
[User Picture]
From:stevie_carroll
Date:January 15th, 2013 06:06 am (UTC)
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No worries. I read Stella Rimmington's autobiography recently, and it's fresh in my mind.

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