Saturday, November 16, 2013

Why is Ernst Stavro Blofeld Important?

Some of the biggest James Bond news in years has occurred.  MGM and Danjaq, owners of the 007 rights, have finally ended the fifty year long battle with the estate of writer Kevin McClory.  They now have gotten the rights back to, not only the Bond book and film, Thunderball, but also to the character of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and the nefarious, Blofeld-led organization, known as SPECTRE.

For a little bit of understanding as to why this is such big news, way back in 1959, James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, enlisted writer Kevin McClory to help him write a new Bond book.  Well, the partnership eventually soured and Fleming went on to write Thunderball without McClory being credited as one of the creative contributors to many elements of the story.  What this led to was a lawsuit where McClory won the rights to Thunderball, being named a producer on that film, and eventually remaking it, unofficially, outside the MGM and EON Productions' canon with Never Say Never Again.  The thing is, McClory also was eventually granted the rights to the character of Blofeld and the organization of SPECTRE, who factored heavily into the events of Thunderball.

Now, you may be asking, what is so important about Blofeld?  Why, it's only because he's James Bond's archenemy, of course.  Every great hero has that villain they fear above all else.  For Batman, it's the Joker.  For Superman, it's Lex Luthor.  For Sherlock Holmes, it's Moriarty.  For James Bond, it's Ernst Stavro Blofeld.  That's just how it is.  While his days in drag, in Diamonds Are Forever, are not all that scary, no villain in Bond's catalogue has ever given him the heartache and trouble that Blofeld has.

Blofeld killed 007's wife, arguably the only woman he ever loved, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.  Not to mention the fact that SPECTRE and Blofeld were the brainchild behind everything 007 experienced in majority of the first six or seven Bond films.  From being the man behind Dr. No and Rosa Klebb, to his ultimate win against Bond, killing Bond's one true love, nothing makes for a greater archenemy than that.  Then there's the Blofeld iconography.  The bald head.  The scar on his face.  The white cat in his lap.  There are few villains who are so iconic that we know who they are by just seeing the bald head sticking over the back of a chair with a cat's tail swishing off to the side.  It's a true sign of iconography when you're parodied multiple times.  The bottom line is, Blofeld is highly important to the legacy of James Bond, and he has not been available to the Bond producers for a long time, but now he is again, so what will they do with him?

Ultimately, I don't expect Blofeld to be rushed into the next Daniel Craig Bond film, as a matter of fact I don't even think we'll see Blofeld again in the foreseeable future.  Blofeld is an eccentric villain that just wouldn't work as well with the style of the current Bond films, not to mention the fact that Blofeld is technically dead, even though the continuity of the James Bond series has always been murky at best.  Do I think that Blofeld could have survived that drop down a smoke stack in For Your Eyes Only?  It takes a lot more than some Roger Moore trickery to kill the villain who's more cockroach than man, though this still does not mean that Daniel Craig will go toe-to-toe with SPECTRE and Blofeld next go around.

While many think this signals what the next Bond film will be about, I think it's just wishful thinking, because there was a plan in place for these next Bond films before this court case was settled.  I think Daniel Craig will round out his tenure as Bond with another few films or so, and then we'll get a new Bond.  With every new 007 actor, there's a slightly different interpretation, I believe it is then we might see a return to some more of the tongue-in-cheek behavior of old, and perhaps a return of SPECTRE and Blofeld.  Though, even if we don't ever see Blofeld on the bigscreen again, the fact that it's now a possibility is a big win for all Bond fans and they should be celebrating this joyous occasion.

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