1. 'Quantum of Solace': Bond Done Differently

    By Matt Weston on 2008-11-12

    The one thread that seems to tie all opinions about Quantum of Solace together – be it those of fans or critics – is that the latest James Bond film is very different from those that have preceded it.

    Trade paper The Hollywood Reporter has today published a terrific look at the film’s production, revealing that “different” is precisely what the filmmakers had in mind.

    The title

    'Quantum of Solace'

    Quantum of Solace

    Perhaps the biggest stir caused by Quantum of Solace was its title. Columbia president Doug Belgrad told the Hollywood Reporter that the studio bigwigs were not sold on the name until they realised “007” could be integrated into the film’s logo as it was on Casino Royale.

    “It’s not the stickiest title,” Belgrad said. “With the title treatment and the graphics, people would know exactly what we needed them to know, which is: This is the next installment of the Bond franchise.”

    The storyline

    One curious snippet in the Hollywood Reporter piece mentions that the ongoing storyline was the brainchild of 007 writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who intended “a multifilm arc that could play across the five films for which Daniel Craig was contracted” (Craig’s contract is most consistently pegged as a four-film deal).

    Producer Michael G. Wilson said, “We realized that we’d left Bond in a very interesting place emotionally. There was still story left to be told. His relationship with Vesper [in Casino Royale] was so intense that to suddenly forget about it wouldn’t have done the first [film] justice.”

    The result is that Quantum of Solace is the first direct sequel in the series’ 22-film history.

    The script

    Screenwriter Paul Haggis

    Screenwriter Paul Haggis

    The script was hurriedly turned in due to the impending Writers Guild of America strike that left Hollywood at a standstill for 100 days earlier this year.

    Reports also suggested an early draft was thrown out during pre-production.

    Neal Purvis told the Hollywood Reporter, “The timing [of co-writer Paul Haggis turning in the script] was excellent. They’d have been in real trouble otherwise.”

    The director

    Marc Forster

    Marc Forster

    Marc Forster is one versatile filmmaker; each of the six pre-Bond films on his curriculum-vitae are starkly different. Quantum of Solace is no exception.

    “There was a quote [Orson Welles] made at the end of his life,” Forster told the Hollywood Reporter. “His biggest regret was that he never made a ‘commercial movie’ or a ‘mainstream movie.’ So I thought I would like to make a movie more people will see than any of the six films I have done put together.”

    The look and the sound

    Forster remained adamant that Quantum of Solace would be a totally unique entry into the James Bond canon. “I’ve tried to photograph this film as more of an art house film,” Forster said, “not as a typical Bond.”

    Supervising sound editor Eddy Joseph said that mandate also extended to the movie’s soundtrack: “[Marc Forster] said, ‘I don’t want it to sound like a Bond film.”

    The locations

    Floating Stage with 'Tosca' Set at Bregenz

    Floating Stage with ‘Tosca’ Set at Bregenz

    Quantum of Solace brought with it its own set of challenges involving the picture’s locations. The film’s shoot ran at 23 weeks, over half of which were on-location, including regions as far-flung as Chile, Italy, Austria and the UK. Some scenes required up to 1,500 extras.

    Forster had to cut a Peru location, which he described as “fabulous” and “romantic”, while he almost had to scrap a rooftop chase in Siena, Italy.

    “Originally, the rooftops were supposed to be built in the studio, but they were too expensive,” the director recalled. “They said, ‘Why don’t you cut the whole sequence?’ and I said, ‘Why don’t we shoot it on the real roofs?'”

    The cast

    Daniel Craig as James Bond

    Daniel Craig as James Bond

    “Being able to hire leading actors and actresses from other countries in the world to play the roles and not just go for Hollywood actors – that’s one of the exciting things about these movies,” producer Barbara Broccoli said.

    Quantum of Solace‘s cast included Ukrainian Olga Kurylenko, French Mathieu Amalric, American Jeffrey Wright, Italian Giancarlo Giannini and, of course, British Daniel Craig.

    “Daniel’s a very physical actor,” Forster says of the film’s star. “It’s great for the director, because you can get an honesty and intensity. But there’s a certain amount of danger involved.”

    The production

    One aspect that was “business as usual”, claims Belgrad, was the hectic timeframe for the movie’s production. He said, “Historically, the Broccolis have always started in January, shot through to the early to mid part of summer, released around Thanksgiving. That’s the normal rhythm of things.”

    Nevertheless, Forster found the quick turnaround, particularly in post-production, a particular shock. “There was just way too little time,” Forster said of the six week post-production period. “That kind of stress, I’m not really used to. I don’t ever want to do that again.”

    The director also had to contend with intense media scrutiny. “It’s much nicer to work under the radar,” Forster said. “To be constantly scrutinized and under such microscopic observation is really not so much a pleasure.”

    The release schedule

    Curiously, Quantum of Solace has, to date, opened in 61 territories around the world, and North America is not one of them. Belgrad said, “Unlike many other films, on a relative basis its American performance doesn’t drive international performance. Bond is a worldwide franchise.”

    But it’s a franchise Forster won’t be returning to any time soon: “When you do a movie of this size, it has an incredibly strong impact. I would do a movie of this size again, but not right away. Doing films of this size back-to-back, I wouldn’t recommend.”

    More on Quantum of Solace‘s production can be found in the full Hollywood Reporter article.

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