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Feature: Bond on DVD
James Bond Never Dies
Screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade discuss deleted dialogue, fencing and giving Jinx her own franchise…
While you may not recognize screen writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade for their work on Let Him Have It, An American Werewolf in Paris or even their first Bond film, The World is Not Enough, after watching the DVD of Die Another Day their faces will be familiar. The stunning two-disc release of the 20th 007 movie is crammed with Documentaries, Storyboard Comparisons and Multi-Angle Explorations, and the writers enjoy the opportunity to chart the evolution of Die Another Day from a blank sheet of paper to a multi-million dollar success story.
Yet, while there are two Commentary tracks – one with director Lee Tamahori and producer Michael G Wilson, and another with Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund (Miranda Frost) Pike – the writers are notably absent.
“I would have liked to have done a Commentary,” admits Wade, “but we probably know too much! The thing is, if you’ve got the director there, it’s not a good idea to have the writers Commentary as well because it would undermine him. The director is the star of the show and it’s not the right kind of politics to have the writers making comments that don’t necessarily gel with the director’s.”
There’s no such messy politics here at Ultimate DVD, as Purvis and Wade take centre stage to discuss their work on the film and subsequent disc release, a long, cash-guzzling process that begins, importantly, with the writers familiarizing themselves with the whole Bond franchise.
“Before writing The World is Not Enough we watched nearly all of the films,” says Purvis, before admitting, “I’ve never managed to get through The Man With the Golden Gun in one sitting!”
“One had naturally seen them all anyway,” continues Wade. “Neal hadn’t seen GoldenEye when we started, but as normal British guys we’d seen them all, and we’d read most of the Fleming books.
“You have to keep on the ball,” claims Purvis. “It’s not good to suggest something that’s been done before, and [producers] Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [G Wilson] are going to know that. You’ve got to be aware of everything that’s gone in the past.”
The starting point for Die Another Day was the Ian Fleming novels, as Purvis and Wade searched for fresh ideas, situations and characters that had yet to be realized on film. Inspiration came from Moonraker, which had loosely been adapted in 1979, with many of its concepts left unused. Villainous entrepreneur Hugo Drax evolved into Gustav Graves (played by Toby Stephens), the stand-off between Bond and his nemesis at the Blades club was retained (although a game of bridge became a fencing match), while icy Miranda Frost grew out of Moonraker’s heroine Gala Brand. This melting pot gradually expanded, as Broccoli, Wilson and eventually the director threw their own ideas into the mix.
by David Richardson
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