For the next 22 weeks, MTV Movies Blog will be running what we call the Bond-a-Thond. Every Wednesday we’re taking a look back at a single (official) Bond film, giving you the vitals and seeing how it holds up, right up until the release of “Skyfall” on November 9. Feel free to watch along with us and share your thoughts or just kick back and enjoy the Bond.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Plot: SPECTRE is back once again, this time capturing space capsules from the U.S. and the Soviet Union in order to start war between the two and catapult Japan to the status of superpower.
Title Meaning: Refers to James Bond’s faked death at the beginning of the film. Blofeld later speaks the line.
Bond: Sean Connery
Villain: After two felts of hiding in the shadows, Ernst Blofeld finally shows his face in the form of Donald Pleasence.
Bond Girl: Aki, the doomed Japanese agent, played by Akiko Wakabayashi, and James’ wife, Kissy, played by Mie Hama.
“Bond, James Bond” Occurrences: 0
Card Games: 0
Cigarettes Smoked: 1
Tuxes Worn: 0
Kills By Bond: 23
Most Creative Kill: Trapped inside of the volcano lair control room, Bond is allowed one cigarette, one that happens to contain a rocket.
Gadgets: As mentioned above, Bond fires a rocket from a cigarette. He also flies around in a portable mini-copter.
Mental State of Miss Moneypenny: Surprisingly well-behaved
Sexual Partners: 4 (Nameless Chinese Girl, Helga Brandt, Aki, Kissy)
First Occurrence of Sex: 5 minutes in
Most Unrealistic Moments: During the aerial pursuit, James uses the flame throwers on his helicopter. It looks ridiculous.
Most “Bond” Moments: To become “more Japanese,” Bond undergoes some plastic surgery from “doctors” in bikinis. They narrow his eyes and add a bad wig.
Sign of the Times: Bond and the head of Japanese intelligence discuss the differences between English and Japanese women. There’s a metaphor about Peking duck in there somewhere.
Place in Bond History: Obviously, the biggest reveal of the film has to be Donald Pleasence as Blofeld. He chews the volcanic scenery, but it’s hard to not love every second he’s on the screen. This was also the last film for Connery before his one-film hiatus. He would return for “Diamonds Are Forever.”
Review: Of all the Bond films with Connery in the lead, “You Only Live Twice” has aged the worst. From its almost satirical handling of race to the outer space sequences, no other Bond film has reached so far beyond the bounds of reality or believability.
Such shortcomings would be mostly negligible in any film from the era (“Hey, it was a different time!”), but the narrative and character weaknesses of “You Only Live Twice” cast a brighter light on the more trivial issues.
In the course of five films, almost all signs of James Bond’s humanity have disappeared. He is so emotionally detached from the people and the events around him that it sucks any sense of suspense out of the many action sequences. He even takes a wife to become “more Japanese,” but she enters the picture so late and with little else but a temporary resistance to sex to characterize her, that whether she lives or dies becomes as important as whether one arbitrarily chosen henchman pulls through.
It almost seems silly to criticism a Bond film on these terms—it’s supposed to be fun, after all—but “You Only Live Twice” makes it readily apparent why the humanity and vulnerability of Bond in “Casino Royale” came as such a shock to the series.
The Bond-a-Thond will return next week in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
What do you think of “You Only Live Twice”? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!