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Blofeld Returns to New James Bond Film SPECTRE


DonLever

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From Time magazine:

Christoph Waltz attends a photocall for the new James Bond film Spectre at Pinewood Studios on December 4, 2014 in Iver Heath, England. Fans speculate he will play a Bond villain that belongs to the organization Spectre.Mike Marsland—WireImage

A brief history of the evil organization that lends its name to the next Bond film.

James Bond is headed back to the big screen next year, and the new film finally has a name: Spectre. Bond superfans are giddy about this title. Here’s why.

Luckily, Spectre is easier to decipher than some, more difficult past Bond titles like Quantum of Solace. Spectre, or rather SPECTRE, stands for the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, a global terrorist organization that plays a major role in the Bond stories. (You have to give them credit for stating their intentions openly with that acronym.) Many Bond villains count themselves as members of Spectre, including Dr. No (Dr. No), Emilio Largo (Thunderball) and, of course, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia With Love, Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever, to name but a few).

Spectre (the British spelling for specter, meaning ghost) was originally conceived by Bond novelist Ian Fleming in 1959 for the novel Thunderball as a villainous organization that could pose a threat to the British government even as the Cold War ended and political alliances shifted. (A savvy move: 56 years later, Spectre still lives on.)

Spectre is a commercial organization led by Blofeld—you may know him as the guy with the fluffy white cat, played amongst other actors by Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas and Max Von Sydow—that recruits its members from criminal groups all over the world like the Gestapo, the Mafia and a fictional Soviet counterintelligence agency called SMERSH. In short, Spectre is not messing around: Members who fail to meet directives—like, “Kill James Bond”—face death.

In From Russia With Love, Blofeld explains using Siamese fighting fish as a metaphor (typical long-winded Bond villains!) that Spectre’s main objective is to create conflict between two superpowers, wait until they are both vulnerable and then strike. The organization has no alliances and will blackmail both good and evil rulers alike.

Its assassins also tend to be pretty ruthless: From Russia With Love’s Red Grant practices murdering real people wearing Sean Connery Bond masks; the same movie’s Rosa Klebb stabs people with a poisonous needle at the tip of her shoe; in Diamonds Are Forever Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd drown a schoolteacher and then joke about sending pictures of the body to her students.

Blofeld, however, is the most evil villain of them all: Pleasence’s take on the bald-headed criminal mastermind with a scar over his eye in You Only Live Twice has inspired many an action villain, including the parody Dr. Evil in Austin Powers. At one point Blofeld even murders Bond’s wife in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. (Yes, Bond got married at one point, though he wasted little time after she died hopping back into bed with the various Bond girls.)

MORE: This Is the Awesome Car James Bond Will Drive In His Next Movie

Blofeld disappears after For Your Eyes Only because the filmmakers lost the rights to the character. (He even goes unnamed in that last movie, killed by Bond before the opening credits by being unceremoniously dropped down a smokestack from a helicopter.) The producers only just sorted out the legal issues in the past few years, which means that the Bond series can once again use the character Blofeld and the organization Spectre. In short, the return of Spectre has been highly anticipated, which is perhaps why the filmmakers opted to use the organization’s name as the title.

Some fans thought that perhaps Spectre would be behind the events in 2006’s Casino Royale: Bond tracks down a then-nameless criminal organization at the end of that film. But in the sequel, Quantum of Solace, audiences learn that the organization’s name is, in fact, just Quantum (though it has many Spectre-like elements). Spectre’s new, vague synopsis suggests that Daniel Craig’s Bond will only just discover Spectre for the first time in the new film. (Remember, Casino Royale rebooted the Bond franchise, so Craig’s Bond has not yet met Blofeld or any other of the Spectre villains.)

But can the new Bond film live up to Spectre’s reputation? Hopefully. Filmmakers have announced that Christoph Waltz and Andrew Scott have been cast in the film—both of whom are known for playing particularly popular and formidable villains, Waltz as the Nazi Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds and Scott as Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock. Might one of them turn out to be Blofeld? That’s what Bond fanatics are hoping.

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From Forbes:

Anyway, what we do know is that Spectre will open on November 6th, 2015 in the states although I assume it will open in the UK a few weeks early, which means I’ll be hoping-against-hope that I can see the film before its UK debut (I got lucky on Skyfall, we’ll see if Sony allows lightning to strike twice). Anyway, the film will of course star Daniel Craig as Derek Flint James Bond in a story that will presumably continue from where Skyfall left off. In other words, if it follows through on Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall, James Bond will totally be ready to be the familiar 007 archetype by the end of this film, we totally mean it this time!

The official plot synopsis reads: “A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.” Mr. Craig will be joined by Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista (as a henchman type character, I believe), Andrew Scott (Moriarty on Sherlock), and Monica Bellucci. Obviously as of now, the rumors about Penelope Cruz joining the fun are unfounded, but things change. Returning from Skyfall will be Naomi Harris (Eve Moneypenny), Ben Whishaw (Q) and Ralph Fiennes (replacing Judi Dench as “M”). Director Sam Mendes is returning, which makes this the first 007 film to be helmed by the same director twice in a row since License to Kill ended John Glenn’s run in 1989. Skyfall writers John Logan, Neil Purvis and Rob Wade are returning as well.

Okay, obviously the title refers to the terrorist organization that James Bond battled in the first handful of 007 adventures in the 1960′s, one which was famously lead by Ernst Stavro Blofeld before the character and the SPECTRE rights were swallowed up by the estate of one Kevin McClory, a producer who worked with author Ian Fleming back in the beginning and ended up with the rights to all the characters involved in Thunderball and thus kept SPECTRE and friends off-limits until right about now (it’s a more complicated story than that, but go HERE for more information). McClory died in 2006 and the rights recently reverted back to the Broccolis. So, since milking the nostalgia well is totally “in” right now, today’s young audiences can thrill to the evil machinations of that guy who they will certainly presume is a rip-off of Austin Powers‘s Dr. Evil.

It was rumored that Christoph Waltz would be a baddie, perhaps the chief baddie, perhaps even Blofeld, but it turns out that he will be playing Oberhauser, who may be Hannes Oberhauser, Bond’s skiing instructor and something of a second father. Or they make being playing a Batman Begins-style switch, which would mean that the mentor and teacher turns out to be the prime villain, but that’s pure speculation. If you have the rights to SPECTRE and you’re calling the bloody movie Spectre, one assumes that you’re going to have Blofeld in the mix and will cast a major actor as the iconic baddie. Of course, I can only hope that the producers wouldn’t be so unimaginative as to cast Moriarty from Sherlock as the secret Blofeld, but that’s just me. But again, that’s speculation and we’re eleven months away.

The promise/threat of Skyfall was that things were reverting to the 1960′s/1970′s status quo, so it will be interesting to see how they deal with a status quo that removed Judi Dench as M in favor of Ralph Fiennes and took an otherwise competent field agent and turned her into “sits at her desk” Moneypenny (that Mendes is returning means he can make good on his promise to keep Moneypenny in the field). The notion of returning to “old-school” Bond was somewhat disingenuous as the Bond franchise has been a flexible series for much of its run, basically acting to mimic whatever was interesting at the time. For example, as Naptown Nerd‘s Brandon Peters would tell you, Live and Let Die was the Blaxploitation Bond, Moonraker was Bond meets Star Wars, Quantum of Solace was Bond does Bourne/Jason Statham while Skyfall was Bond does Dark Knight. Since the official “cool thing” is interconnected universes, something seemingly impossible for the mother of all stand-alone franchises to accomplish, it will be interesting to see just what Spectre resembles if it plays to form.

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