Thursday, December 4, 2014

From Russia with Love

From Russia with Love; thriller, UK, 1963; D: Terence Young, S; Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Armendariz

In order to obtain the Soviet cryptographic machine, the Lektor, and take revenge on secret agent James Bond for killing Dr. No at the same time, the secret organization SPECTRE envisages a sly plan: they order the their loyal secret agent, Soviet operative Rosa Klebb, to find a woman from the Soviet embassy in Istanbul, Tatiana, to feign that she wants to defect to the West and give them the Lektor, but only on the condition that Bond accompanies her. MI6 takes the bait, and Bond goes to Istanbul and meets Tatiana. They steal the Lektor and take a train trip through the Balkans to get to Trieste. SPECTRE agent Grant tries to kill Bond but fails. Bond thus arrives to Trieste while Tatiana truly falls for him.

The 2nd James Bond film, "From Russia with Love" is an improvement to the shaky first film, "Dr. No", and an appropriately suspenseful, dynamic and engaging spy action flick, a product of its time, namely the Cold War. Obviously, it is a too simplistic presentation of the matter, an escapist action fun, yet since it never aims for some higher ambitions, it is unpretentious and completely relaxed, thus entirely suitable for a light entertainment. Sean Connery made a huge improvement in playing James Bond compared to the 1st film, and is very charismatic and assertive in this film, whereas the Bond franchise "trademark", the opening credits - here involving the cast credits being screened on the body of a woman in the dark - are among the most inventive, visually exquisite of the entire film series. The story takes a while until it gets going, and more could have been done out of it, but as it is, is has enough highlights, especially in the untypical train sequence where Bond and Tatiana are travelling across Belgrade and Zagreb to get to Trieste, which is refreshingly devoid of action and focuses more on the build up of tension, since it is never known how the secret organization SPECTRE is going to assault the two protagonists. Tatiana is also a surprisingly well made character, who goes through a transformation when she decides to abandon the Soviet Totalitarianism and honestly escape with Bond to the West. Overall, a very fluent, and very confident Bond film.


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