Study Guide

Skyfall

Skyfall Introduction


Release Year: 2012

Genre: Action, Drama

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan

Stars: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem


Prior to Skyfall, every Bond film was based in some part on a work by Ian Fleming, who invented the Bond character. Skyfall thinks outside that box. It takes its inspiration from a little known children's story, rumored to have been written by Fleming itself. It stars a suave farmyard spy named Little. Chicken Little. With the help of the sultry Foxy Loxy, a Bond girl name if there ever was one, he sets off on a dangerous mission to save not just his farm, but the world.

Okay, we made that up. But you know what? If that existed, we'd watch it while eating a plate of eggs—scrambled, not stirred.

In actuality, Skyfall is an original story that sees timeless superspy James Bond match wits against a former agent named Silva. Silva has a grudge against M, the head of MI6, Her Majesty's Secret Service. The demented Silva will go to any lengths to make her pay.

Following Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, released in 2012, is Daniel Craig's third outing as secret agent 007. As always, his missions are guided by M. Words you can't spell without M: formidable, masterful, and Dame Judi Dench. Bond and M's nemesis, Silva, is played by Javier Bardem, a man we don't think we'd recognize without a goofy haircut.

Although M is in charge of doling out dossiers, the mastermind behind Skyfall is director Sam Mendes. A London theater director, Mendes garnered acclaim in Hollywood for his Oscar-winning film American Beauty. For Skyfall, Mendes blends together his penchant for British drama with a healthy dose of unhinged neuroticism. All that's missing is a plastic bag dancing in the breeze.

Bond may often get the girls, but he doesn't usually get the Oscars. That changed with Skyfall, and a lot of credit for that victory goes to Adele, the most important Bond girl to not actually appear on screen in a Bond movie. Her title song "Skyfall" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, a first for the fifty-year-old Bond series. It also won a trophy for Best Original Score, and we don't mean the score Bond and Silva are settling.

The film grossed over a billion dollars—that's billion with B as in Bond—worldwide, making it the number-one grossing Bond film of all time. After successfully navigating Bond over the fifty-year hump, both Craig and Mendes, along with many supporting cast members, returned for Skyfall's sequel Spectre in 2015.

Daniel Craig's Bond films have been both throwbacks and modern looks forward for the venerable series. Bond can be moody and self-aware, yes, but who isn't these days? Even if you miss the campy carefree Bonds of the past, Skyfall still has fast cars, fast women, and a gadget or two—all you need to pretend to be Bond, James Bond.

For all the rest, we're Oop, Shm Oop, and we are at your service.

  

What is Skyfall About and Why Should I Care?

When the sky fell on Skyfall, the Bond franchise was fifty years old, with around two dozen films under its impeccably tailored cummerbund. Most franchises are dead in the water by the second or third sequel. (We love Anna Kendrick, but Pitch Perfect 3? Really?) So why should you care about a franchise with a leading man who might be using money from Her Majesty's Secret Service to hide his gray hairs?

Skyfall is important because it doesn't try to hide those grays—not that Daniel Craig has any. We've all seen men try to hide their age late in life. They buy fancy sports cars, hit on young women, and shoe polish their mustache. Bond, in a way, is the perfect franchise for these men. The Bond films—especially the ones with Grandpa Roger Moore—cater to this fantasy that a man of a certain age (ahem, old) can be suave, debonair, and desirable.

Skyfall, however, confronts Bond's age. In his third outing as 007, Craig's Bond is feeling a little long in the tooth. So is M. The two battle with the idea that they may be relics of the past. Does the public still need them? These are all ponderings we can have in a meta sense about the Bond franchise itself. How does it stay relevant for a new generation?

Watching the movie with these questions in mind, you can decide if Skyfall succeeds at its mission—one of Bond's most challenging yet.

Trivia

Skyfall is a good title—concise, mysterious, sounds good when crooned by Adele. But other titles were considered, like Once Upon a Spy. While that would be a great title if Bond were a cartoon raccoon, we think Skyfall fits the tone much better. (Source)

Sean Connery was almost considered for a role in Skyfall. No, not as Bond—that would be Skyfall and Break a Hip. He was considered for the role of Kincaid, a part that ultimately went to the big fish Albert Finney. Connery was deemed too distracting for the part—because of his ties to Bond, not because of his accent. (Source)

We know you're still upset about the most tragic demise in the film. No, not M's—the death of Bond's classic Aston Martin DB5. We're happy to tell you that no Aston Martins were harmed during the making of that scene. But a Porsche was. RIP. (Source)

In Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Helen Fielding writes: "In Skyfall, when you think about it, Judi Dench was actually the Bond girl, not the frizzy-haired one with no character who decided (in a weird anti-feminist twist, surely?) she wanted to be Miss Moneypenny. Judi Dench was the one Daniel Craig really loved, and ended up carrying through the bullets. But then would Daniel Craig actually have had sex with Judi Dench? I mean, if she wasn't dead? How great if they'd done a beautifully lit sex scene with Judi Dench looking gorgeous in a black La Perla slip. Now there would be a rebranding feminist…" What do you think of Bridget Jones' assessment of Bond and his girls? (Source)

Skyfall Resources

WEBSITES

007 is 001
Bond has a comprehensive website, which is of course at 007.com.

Dressed to Kill
If you've grown tired of globetrotting and still have money to burn, check out James Bond Lifestyle for the goods any self-respecting spy wannabe can't live without.

BOOK OR TV ADAPTATIONS

For Your Eyes Only
Skyfall's story wasn't adapted from a Fleming novel, but nearly every other Bond flick was. Catch up on your reading here.

ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS

Vanity, Thy Name Isn't Bond
Vanity Fair exposes Daniel Craig's modesty and Judi Dench's wicked sense of humor in this interview.

Bonds Will Be Bonds
Craig discusses his role in Skyfall and his place in the great pantheon of Bonds for the last fifty years.

The Man with the Golden Plan
Although Bond's producers have a reputation, Sam Mendes says they were never Dr. No with him. They let him do what he wanted.

VIDEO

Cold War Warmed Over
Sam Mendes ponders why we're still fascinated with Bond, a Cold War relic like Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Cool, Calm, Collected
Bond may be getting cooler, but Daniel Craig thinks he isn't cool at all.

The Voice of Authority
Skyfall is basically M's movie, and this is her interview.

AUDIO

If the Sky Fell and Made a Sound
The Sky is Fall-ing, and we couldn't be happier.

Curtain Call
Mendes talks about going from the stage to the screen for Skyfall. Could the series ever go the other way? Could there possibly be a Bond musical someday?

IMAGES

Shot by Bond
Maybe Craig has a future in directing?

Die Another Day
This fan poster blends Bond and blood into a delightfully macabre image for the spy who questions his own role in the world.