Friday, 16 March 2012

BlogalongaBond #15 - The Living Daylights (1987)

(Here is a link to a revised version of my IMDb review of The Living Daylights, May 2003)

We're halfway there. Of course, at #15, we're actually 2/3rds of the way there. However, due to the inflating cost and effort of producing Bond, the distance between the films is increasing.

Put another way, in this, Bond's 50th year, watching The Living Daylights means watching a film made a quarter of a century ago. Though it seems modern and fresh, given the new executor of the licence to kill, it's still a film tied firmly to the tenets of the settled Moore and tended by John Glen in this his fourth film of the franchise. Consequently, it's actually not much more exciting than the previous three.

However, it does have at least one distinguishing feature, to which I'm going to restrict myself in this BlogalongaBond post. Given that one of the principal protagonists of The Living Daylights is a cellist, Bond attends four concerts in the course of the film, and hears six pieces or extracts from pieces of classical music (the clips below are not from the film but from good performances of the music in question).

First, there is a performance of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 (the first movement) in 'Bratislava' prior to the assassination and counter-assassination attempts.

Bond returns to that building hear Kara playing the third movement of the Borodin String Quartet No.2 (which opens with the melody in the cello) before tailing her to her apartment.

Interestingly the building used in the film is not in Bratislava, Slovakia but is in fact the Vienna Volksoper (or People's Opera, Vienna's second opera house after the Staatsoper, or State Opera) and the interior used is almost certainly the Sofiensaal, a now-ruined theatre that, prior to The Living Daylights was most famous for accommodating the first full-length studio recording of Wagner's epic Ring Cycle of operas.

Having got Kara out across the Austrian border Bond takes her to Vienna. The couple arrive at the Schönbrunn Palace to an outdoor performance of Johann Strauss II's Wein, Weib und Gesang (Wine, Women and Song) waltz.

Having checked into the hotel, Bond books tickets for a performance of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro at the Schönbrunn Palace Theatre, occasional home of Vienna's third opera company, the Kammeroper or Chamber Opera. We hear the end of act 2.

Returning from 'assassinating' Polunin, Bond finds Kara practising part of the first movement of Dvorak's Cello Concerto in the hotel room.

At the end of the film, they have returned to the Schönbrunn Palace Theatre where Kara is playing Tchaikovsky's Roccoco Variations (under the baton of John Barry, no less).

It would appear that Kara's 'Lady Rose' Stradavarius cello 'of 1724' is a fictitious instrument.

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