Bond in the eyes of the beholder
HOW TO SHOOT A FILM IN THE U.K.
THE LOOK: STYLE AND SUBSTANCE
'Quantum' director Forster relies on production designer Gassner to help convey 007 emotions
With indie fare Marc Forster ("The Kite Runner") helming the latest James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace," you can expect a more artistic vision, particularly within the design of the 14 interior sets built at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, just outside London, the franchise's base for decades.
"I wanted to return to the stylish look of the early Bond films by production designer Ken Adam," Forster says.
Current designer Dennis Gassner, who got his first taste of Bond and Pinewood on "Quantum," adds that the production tried to honor Adam's tradition with a more modernistic and organic approach -- using the current Bond, Daniel Craig, as a focal point.
"I had to find a new place in the world for Bond
to be Bond on his journey," Gassner explains. "I said to Marc that the only thing that I had to hold onto was Daniel. And what is that? It's this incredibly angular, chiseled, textured face and blue eyes. It was so simple that it was right in front of us. So I really created a pattern language based on that theory and Marc's … sense of style and design."
This included giving London a different look, both at Pinewood and on location. "I wanted to show London the way nobody's ever seen it before," Gassner says.
One example was shooting at the Barbican, Europe's largest multiple-arts center, with its cast concrete and "unique textural patterns." Another was redesigning MI6 (the U.K.'s foreign intelligence agency) on the 007 stage.
"I wanted to put Judi (Dench as M) in a really smart room because she's the embodiment of MI6," Gassner notes. "I wanted to see her (figuratively) inside a Macintosh computer and give her the opportunity to use her mind and her voice, so what she says, she gets: 'Where's Bond?' She has easy access in the stainless metal-and-glass world that she's in."
The rebuilt 007 stage, which accidentally burned down after the shooting of "Casino Royale" in 2006, played a fiery role once again on the "Quantum" shoot.
"(After) they rebuilt the stage and 'Mamma Mia!' actually shot there, we inhabited it again, ironically, on this film for a big fire sequence," recalls producer Barbara Broccoli. "So we got through the sequence without incident, fortunately, but on the backlot, we had a (second) fire involved on one of the exteriors where we were shooting. And there was a report that we had something burn down, which actually was not correct. We deliberately set it on fire."
"Quantum," which bows Nov. 14, is a direct sequel to "Casino," the franchise's top grosser. The introspective feature, whose title is culled from an offbeat short story by Ian Fleming, concerns Bond coming to terms with love, loss and betrayal.
Never -- or at least not since 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" -- has a Bond film so probed his emotional complexity.
"The root of the story is about trust," Forster says, "and Daniel … adds so much more humanity and vulnerability, and makes it more interesting to watch. The audience can relate to him more."
PHOTO (COLOR): VISION QUEST: With "Quantum of Solace," director Marc Forster wanted to pay homage to old-school production designer Ken Adam, who spent nearly two decades on 007 films.
PHOTO (COLOR): SMART START: Production designer Dennis Gassner crafted the surroundings of M (Judi Dench) in "Quantum of Solace" to augment the audience's understanding of her power.
By Bill Desowitz
[Source: Variety, 10/20/2008, Vol. 412 Issue 10, pA18-A19]