A SOUND effects wizard who won an Oscar for his groundbreaking work on the first classic Bond films says the popular hero has become too much of a superman in the latest blockbuster.
Norman Wanstall of Burford, near Tenbury, worked on six Bond films including Dr No, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger, for which he won an Academy Award for sound effects.
Norman said Casino Royale was a spectacular return to form for Bond but he fears the new film, Skyfall, billed by some as the best ever, may be a bit over the top as the British intelligence agent celebrates his 50th birthday by coming back from the dead.
The 77-year-old, who went to see the new film on the day of its general release at the Odeon in Worcester, is surprised the film has received so much acclaim although he admitted it was “technically superb” and there are great performances, notably from Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem as a sinister super villain.
He believes M, played by Judi Dench, appears “too much like someone’s aging grandmother” rather than the head of MI6.
Norman, who found one part of the film so far fetched he was tempted to walk out of the cinema, said: “I put on Facebook that ‘I have just been to the movies to see Superman.
Did I say Superman? I meant Skyfall’.
“To make him into a superhero was acceptable but don’t make him into a Superman where he comes back from the dead. It’s ridiculous.”
Norman, who became a plumber after he retired from the movie business, created sounds in the most iconic moments of the Bond movies, including the sound of Oddjob’s deadly hat and a laser beam which threatened to cut the hero in two.
Bond, played by Sean Connery, says: “Do you expect me to talk?”
Goldfinger replies: “No Mr Bond, I expect you to die,”
in one of the most famous scenes in movie history.
Then there was the scene where Dr No uses his claw hand to crush a metal idol in the first of the Connery Bond films.
“I can’t tell you the number of sounds we mixed together for that. I was very proud of that.”
He believes From Russia with Love was the best in the series because of the strong, straight story without too much focus on gadgets and Sean Connery – in his view, the best ever Bond.
Norman got quite hot under the collar trying to devise the weird and wonderful sounds of the Bond films as he tried to create sounds to match the increasingly futuristic themes.
The grand finale of Dr No, which involved a nuclear reactor meltdown was particularly challenging and at times he thought there must be ‘an easier way than this’. Thankfully, now there is. Gone is the clutter – synchronisers, moviolas for bits of film and cans for film – replaced by a man at a computer who can create sounds at the touch of a button.
Norman believes Bond needs to return to the format of Casino Royale which injected new life into a franchise which had “run out of steam”.
The Oscar which Norman won for Goldfinger in 1964 was in a category for sound effects only just introduced, following pressure from the Sound Editors’ Guild in the USA to give recognition to the effects maestros who, without the cutting-edge computer technology we take for granted, displayed a resourcesfulness that seems remarkable today. He was presented with the famous statuette award at the ceremony by glamorous American actress Angie Dickinson, accompanied by the famous film music performed by Shirley Bassey.