Entertainment & Arts

James Bond: Skyfall opens new chapter for 007

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Media captionDaniel Craig and French actress Berenice Marlohe on their roles in Skyfall

The title of next James Bond film has been revealed as Skyfall - so what can we expect from the 23rd film in the 007 franchise?

The title was, as the James Bond producers admitted, "the worst-kept secret in London".

The name Skyfall had been heavily rumoured after it was registered as an internet domain earlier this year.

The title has no link to the Ian Fleming stories, and producer Barbara Broccoli would only say it has some "emotional context" which will be revealed in the film.

The announcement of the new film came 50 years to the day after Sean Connery was revealed as the man to play the superspy in Dr No.

So what do we know about the new Bond film, and what's still under wraps?

The official summary of the storyline gives little away: "Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her.

"As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost."

Image caption The film will be released in the 50th anniversary year of the Bond films

It does, however, hint at action sequences that some reports had suggested might be toned down under director Sam Mendes.

At the launch event at London's Corinthia Hotel, Mendes reassured fans that the script had "all the elements of a classic Bond movie, including - to quell any rumours - a lot of action".

Daniel Craig is back for a third time as 007, along with Dame Judi Dench as M.

The starry cast includes veteran actor Albert Finney, Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem as the villain.

Naomie Harris plays a field agent named Eve and French actress Berenice Marlohe joins the cast as "a glamorous, enigmatic character" named Severine.

Ben Whishaw, who appeared recently in the BBC series The Hour, also has an unknown role.

The filmmakers are remaining tight-lipped about the parts played by Fiennes and Finney.

"There's going to be a lot of speculation on who those characters are going to be," said David Sztypuljak of the HeyUGuys movie blog.

"I'd say Ralph Fiennes is probably Blofeld - I can imagine him sitting in a chair stroking a white cat. I think he'd be great."

Image caption Actresses Berenice Marlohe (l) and Naomie Harris have both been in training to fire guns for the film

Paul Dunphy, an editor at Bond fan site Commanderbond.net, said: "It's a mark of the quality of the script that they've attracted people of the calibre of Albert Finney and Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem. I think it's going to put the series back on track."

Ajay Chowdhury, from the James Bond International Fan Club, said the new film looked set to "be an intriguing new entry in the Rolls-Royce of movie franchises".

Whatever their roles, the cast has an impressive clutch of Oscar wins and nominations between them. Mendes himself won a directing Oscar for 1999's American Beauty.

The screenplay was penned by previous Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, and John Logan, who worked on Gladiator.

Austerity Bond?

Given the tough economic climate, the Bond producers are showing no signs of slashing the budget for Skyfall.

"Does it look like we're cutting back?" asked Broccoli. "All the money is going to go on the screen."

Producer Michael G Wilson said the budget was "in the same range" as 2008's Quantum of Solace, which is estimated at $200m (£125m).

"We haven't had to change anything in the script to get what we want," he said. "In fact we keep on adding."

Filming will take place on location in London's Whitehall, Scotland, China and Turkey, as well as Pinewood Studios.

While plot details are thin, Skyfall will be cutting ties with the story arc that connected Craig's earlier outings in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

"It doesn't connect with the last two movies," confirmed Mendes.

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Media captionDirector Sam Mendes unveiled some of the details of Skyfall alongside cast members and the film's producers

CommanderBond.net's Dunphy thought it was a good decision.

"They had something really good with Casino Royale. Arguably, for the first time in the series you became emotionally invested in the characters, and I think they wasted it with Quantum of Solace. So I think it's wise to cut losses."

With next year as the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr No, why has the franchise lasted so long?

Professor James Chapman of Leicester University, author of Licence To Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films, said it was down to the films' ability to successfully negotiate change.

"They responded to changes in geopolitics, to technological change, and changes in the film industry," he said.

"Each generation gets its own Bond. They have managed to renew the franchise in such a way that it taps into what's going on not just in society but in the popular taste in film culture."

Skyfall, which has already started filming, is due out in the UK on 26 October 2012.

Both the makers and fans alike are hoping it will be a fitting tribute to a film franchise that is almost half as old as cinema itself.

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