Thursday, 1 September 2011

Octopussy (1983)

Octopussy was Roger Moore’s sixth outing as James Bond. But this time he was clearly too old for the role, but it scarcely matters. He has enough self-confidence, and sheer bravado, to carry him through.

This time Bond is up against three different enemies, all with very different agendas.

Initially what we have is a mystery involving a Fabergé egg, presumed to have belonged to the Russian Imperial family and now being offered for auction at Sotheby’s. But a fake Fabergé egg, an exact replica of this one, has just turned up in the hands of a dead British secret agent. And an exiled Afghan prince, Kamal Khan, is for some reason prepared to pay much much more than the egg is actually worth. He obviously must have the egg, but why?

Bond is off to India, where Prince Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan) now lives in considerable slendour. The trail will lead Bond to the mysterious and beautiful Octopussy (Maud Adams), a fabulously wealthy woman who has what is effectively her own island queendom, inhabited entirely by gorgeous women. As you might expect, Bond is not displeased at the idea of infiltrating Octopussy’s island realm.

Octopussy has varied business interests, some of them legal. They range from diamond smuggling to circuses. Her circus is perhaps more of a hobby, but it will prove to be important.

But Kamal Khan and Octopussy are just two of the three players in this game. The third is an insane Russian general who believes the Soviet Union still has a chance of turning the Cold War into a hot war and winning. He has a scheme to do just that, and that’s where Octopussy’s circus comes in.

If you think it sounds like the plot has a bit too much going on you’re probably right but in the end it works pretty well. As usual in a Bond film there are exotic locations and they’re used extremely well. The Indian sequences are splendid, with a wonderful rickshaw case and then the piece de resistance, with Kamal Khan and his cronies mounted on elephants hunting Bond through the jungle.

And of course circuses always work in movies, and so do trains, and this one has both. In fact it has more than enough to keep any reasonable viewer entertained.

Casting Louis Jourdan as an Agfhan prince might have seemed a bit of a stretch but while he doesn’t look very much like an Agfhan prince he’s still perfect for the role. Although best known as a suave romantic leading man Jourdan was in fact rather good at playing charming evil (he was an excellent Dracula in the 1977 BBC -TV adaptation). He has a lot of fun with his role as a Bond villain.

This was the second appearance by Maud Adams as a Bond girl. She’s suitably glamorous. By this time Desmond Llewelynn as Q had become an institution in the Bond films and despite being nearly 70 he gets a fairly active role this time around, even getting to pilot a hot air balloon.

This was the first Bond movie made after Bernard Lee’s death so we get a new actor as M, Robert Brown. Sadly he makes very little impression.

Octopussy is not my favourite of the Moore Bond films but it’s still a delightfully entertaining movie, and it’s still classic Bond.


Kev D. said...

Diamond smuggling AND circuses... classic.

Shaun [The Celluloid Highway] said...

"Mr. Bond is indeed of a very rare breed...soon to be made extinct"

Anonymous said...

My favourite film of all time. Seriously.