Sometimes there are songs, books, films that talk to me in a very special manner. Their atmosphere, ambience, the way characters speak & move around and the things they do tell me about human depths, emotions, fears & connections to reality. This is an extremely personal feeling that fills me with profound satisfaction as I can sense realisation of life through them. They show me the way to the inside but they do it from a completely different perspective to mine, so their view enriches my perception and helps me understand, making connections, taking my discernment that little bit further.
When talking about music I could mention the sweeping trip-hop sounds created by Massive Attack or the sophisticated pop cloud on Sidonie’s lyrics. With books, some of my dearest ones are Siddharta by Herman Hess or The razor’s edge by Somerset Maugham. If I think about authors, Julio Cortázar, Haruki Murakami, Philip Roth and Paul Auster come to mind first. When focusing on film characters, there is Scarlett O’Hara & Rhett Butler, Holly Golightly, Rick Deckard, Michael Corleone or Harry Lime, shining away, some wrapped by a very dark aura. When recalling cinema classics I could include all the films where the characters above reveal their essence, and add also Casablanca, Marnie, East of Eden or Cat on a hot tin roof. Between our contemporary films, I especially enjoyed Usual suspects, Eyes wide shut, Lost in translation, Inception, The tree of life, Midnight in Paris, The dark knight and now also the latest episode of the James Bond saga: Skyfall.
I don’t consider myself an unconditional Bond fan but I must admit that I do enjoy the charming elegant cheekiness of the worldwide known secret agent with a license to kill. However, from my point of view, since Daniel Craig is on board, the character has grown tremendously and has become more human.
Now, if you haven’t seen the film but are hoping to, you might choose to stop reading here, as the plot might be partially revealed.
Through Craig’s work I’ve seen a James that experienced true love & got hurt deeply. An employee striving for his best performance, disappointed by his superiors sometimes but at the end always loyal to his boss & his country. A grown up open to the latest but connected to the useful beauty of tradition. A man who suffered and drowned into loneliness & pain, a supportive friend and also a child who learnt from his early age what it meant to be on his own, finding a new way to fit in and to be loved.
Silva (or Tiago Rodríguez, as we find out later on the film) is the character played wonderfully by our brilliant Javier Bardem. He is the bad one, the evil being, one that reminds me on a couple of occasions of Hannibal Lecter and also of the Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore from Apocalypse Now at the end of the film. He is a disillusioned & bitter ex secret agent who betrayed his principles and felt betrayed too by the one person he loved the most, becoming a powerful & extremely clever mercenary who sells his services to the highest bidder and whose aim is to fulfil revenge on that one person who he thinks let him down.
That person is a physically elderly & highly qualified woman with proven experience in her field. She answers to the title of ‘M’ and I don’t think we ever knew her real name (if so, please enlighten me). However, that ‘M’ makes full sense thanks to Silva’s entrance as his tortured soul & life experience leads him to call her ‘Mother’ on several occasions. So to him ‘M’ stands for the Mother he felt so attached to and still does, the one person that he always wished to please, becoming ‘her favourite’ once. But M knows how to keep things strictly professional and Silva crossed a line that none of her subordinates should cross. So his wrong choices made him the enemy in the shadows as she focuses on her best current agent, a man that she knows better than anybody else, someone that she can truly trust as she is able to see behind the steel wall that he projects.
This woman doesn’t give up, she strives for a job well done, serving her purpose in life until the end. That’s why she doesn’t want to retire when it is offered to her. Her aim is to achieve her goals over any difficulties that might arise. I particularly enjoyed her speech during her own defence in front of the members of the government and the poem by Tennyson that she quotes (see an extract of it, its end actually, below). Paraphrasing what I can remember she said: “our enemies are coming from the shadows these days, embodying darkness; just ask yourselves what are you afraid of and what makes you feel safe…”. There lies a superb allegory for me.
I really enjoyed the very special bond that joins M & 007 together, the rollercoaster of twists, ironic comments & feelings that flow between the two characters throughout the film.
There is room for many values such as commitment, loyalty, love, respect, personal achievement, understanding, forgiving. And there is also space for a wide range of human emotions: fear, resentment, loneliness, jealousy, remorse, hate, pride, sense of belonging…
One of my favourite ever tasks when being a student was textual analysis. Later on I was lucky enough to have an amazing literature teacher at university who taught me how to take this practice even further, knocking down the frontiers between subjects & disciplines, seeing the relation between a painting & a piece of music, for example, learning by experiencing, approaching constructivism, developing practical criticism & sensing the ‘intertextuality’ all around me (thanks ever so much, P.Ruiz, for your teachings).
Going a step forward, when perceiving any of these connections within a song, book or film, they become part of my journey as I link them with my personal search, and that helps me learning & growing, which is at the end of the day my aim in life.
Falling proves that I am in motion. When I move I am coming into action. Action means learning & learning leads me to understanding, accepting, respecting & growing, which to me is the essence of living. Falling then can be equal to living, whether I fall from as high as the sky or from lower heights. There is so much beauty around me that I grasp every opportunity to embrace the knowledge that I believe is everywhere out there, waiting to be seized.
“We are not now that strength which in old days
moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
one equal temper of heroic hearts,
made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Ulysses, Lord Alfred Tennyson