Monday, November 12, 2012

Mendes is the latest British hero to light up 2012

It's a bit premature for annual reflection but I already know my abiding memory of this year will be: the union jack.

In Britain 2012 was the year when every business and organisation decided that flag-based marketing was the way to go.   Is there any product or service that has not been flogged by wrapping it up in a union jack?

The reason is pretty obvious.  An outpouring of patriotism and national pride as a result of the Diamond Jubilee, running a successful Olympics and numerous sporting successes.

The British Sports Personality of the Year has been a hotly discussed topic for months because the competition is so intense: Wiggins, Murray, McIlroy et al.  Lord Coe and Dave Brailsford are being hailed as visionary heroes.

The new Bond film, Skyfall, has kept the feelgood factor going a bit longer.  I enjoyed the film enormously despite not being a Bond fan.

It's a rare critical and popular smash which triumphantly brings the legend back in front of a worldwide audience just weeks after the inspired Olympics opening ceremony stunt with the Queen.

Not only does the film reflect the usual Bond traits of insouciance in a crisis, cool charm and dry humour that we like to think of as typical of the British at their best, it is also set mainly in Britain (London and Scotland). The stars are also a reminder of another thing we have to be proud of: great actors. Besides Craig, Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes are very good.

The theme song is no classic - more a homage to the 60s classics that made Bond music as much loved as the films.  But it is good and is another reminder of a British success story: Adele is comfortably the world's most successful music artist of the year as she was in 2011.

I also defy anyone to not feel a stirring of emotion when the iconic Aston Martin makes an appearance even though it does stretch plot credulity somewhat (how old was Bond when he got it?).

The success was not inevitable.  Bond films have fallen flat before, as recently as 2008's Quantum of Solace.  It's not easy to make a film that works with the grain of the Bond legend, includes all the trademark elements and also makes for a satisfying, coherent and modern film in its own right.

That Skyfall does that and more is a credit to the director Sam Mendes. I shall be looking for him in the end of year Person of the Year lists.

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