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Feature: James Bond - Die Another Day
As 007 returns for his 20th assignment, Stephen Payne goes on set to meet those behind the latest threat to the civilized world…
On November 22 the Bond franchise notches up its 20th instalment with Die Another Day, a dazzling anniversary event that aims to push the series into wilder, more fantastic territory while celebrating its own heritage.
“I couldn’t be happier to be around at this time in the James Bond legacy,” enthuses Pierce Brosnan, back for a fourth time in the lead role. “There’s a great sense of pride.”
The celebration brings its own preconceptions – a fact of which producer Michael G Wilson is only too aware. “Because it’s the 40th anniversary, Bond fans expect us to do even better than before,” he believes. Observant followers of the 007 films are promised a treat with Die Another Day, which subtly, and at times not so subtly, self-references its own rich history.
“I’ve been jamming in dozens of references to the other movies for all those who loved them,” explains director Lee Tamahori. “What I don’t want to do is slavishly repeat famous images from past movies, because people will think we’ve just run out of ideas. But most of them are loving homages.
“Every day I’d go, ‘Ooh let’s do this!’ and I’d put in the jet pack from Thunderball and the lasers from Goldfinger. The most obvious one is we have Halle Berry re-doing Ursula Andress from Dr No. How can we not do that? She did it brilliantly.”
Starburst is visiting the Pinewood set of Die Another Day, where designer Peter Lamont has constructed a vast, cavernous ice palace. It’s Bond’s own take on the famous Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, a building carved out of frozen water, where even much of the furniture is made out of ice. In the film the hotel is the refuge of Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee), a North Korean army officer and son of the peaceful ruler who plans to reunite his country with South Korea in a takeover of Japan and an ultimate attack on the United States.
We’re promised an extravagant tale that takes a firm step into more Science Fiction territory. There’s Colonel Moon, disfigured after his experiments with face-reshaping technology went awry. There’s an outlandish weapon of mass destruction, firing onto the planet from Space. And there’s the weapon’s control unit, an advanced body suit that is worn like armour.
“It started off as a big glove,” offers Tamahori on the hi-tech suit, “and I said, ‘A big glove isn’t that exciting’, and they said, ‘Why don’t we add a hundred thousand volts, give it defensive capabilities, taser light-killing abilities, track ball control – so he could wear it as a fighting combat unit as well’.
“We’ve got some virtual reality this time, and we are jumping into stuff that’s quasi-Sci-Fi. We’ve looked at some of our dailies and gone, ‘Wow this is straight out of Science Fiction’.”
by David Richardson
Read more on this set report, with contributions from producer Michael G Wilson, director Lee Tamahori, writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, stuntman Vic Armstrong, co-star Halle Berry, and star Pierce Brosnan in
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