Wednesday, May 6, 2020

An Easter egg in the film "Die Another Day"

Ok... so let me make this clear from the start. I am not a film buff, nor do I claim any more than superficial expertise in film. If you want the honest truth (as opposed to my usual dishonest truth), I will likely need to look up the title of this movie again before I finish blogging about it.

Another thing to clear up at the start -- this is not my usual blog post subject matter. Normally I go on ad nauseum about color and math and physics and other boring stuff. Not today. Prepare to not learn any science.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term "Easter egg" when applied to film, this is something innocuous put in a film just as a joke. If you would like an example, I would suggest having a look at the scene in the movie Airplane that starts at 0:00:00, and ends at 1:25:00 in the sequel Airplane 2.

The topic of this blog post is an Easter egg in the James Bond movie "Die Another Day".

To set the time stamp on the movie, the Easter egg occurs between when a) Bond uses the secret code word delectados to elicit the help of some guy, and when b) Halle Barry makes a breathtaking exit from the ocean.

An egregious image of Halle Barry being viewed through Bond's binoculars

If I were a true film aficionado, I would point out the similarity of the outfit worn by Barry to that worn by Ursula Andress in her coming out of the water scene from an earlier Bond flick, Dr. No. I might also take this time to comment on the cinematography in those two scenes, comparing it to Bo Derek running on the beach in the movie 10. Blah blah blah ... Daryl Hannah in Splash ... Phoebe Cates' pool scene... blah blah A Fish Called Wanda ... blah blah ... the primeval attraction ... subliminal reference back to one million years of evolution at the water side ... Descent of Woman...

But I can't even recall the scene from A Fish where Jamie Lee Curtis came out of a pool wearing a bikini. So I will skip all that.

Getting back to the Easter egg in Die Another Day... In the unforgettable scene just before Halle Barry emerges from the water, James borrows a pair of binoculars so he can pose as a bird watcher and get a look at the island. At this point, I had to pause the film to clean up the martini that I snorted out my nose and to explain to my wife what tickled my funny bone. I'll explain it to you as well, but first I rewind the film a bit.

I remembered that while he was in the delectado guy's office, Bond had idly picked up a book to look at, just before he picked up the pair of binoculars. I went back to see what the book was. As I suspected, it was a bird guide. I had a hunch about the author of this book. I was hoping to see the name of the author of the book, but I couldn't make it out. I think they did that on purpose to hide the Easter egg for all but the most diligent of Easter egg hunters.

But since I had already guessed who the author was, I knew what to google for. Here is a better shot of the book Birds of the West Indies:

You can probably just make out the author's name: James Bond! Yes. James Bond picked up a book by James Bond.

Now for the reveal. The real James Bond was an ornithologist. Ian Fleming (who wrote the books about James Bond the spy) was an avid bird-watcher who lived in Jamaica, so he knew of the bird book. Fleming was looking for a name for his character and felt that the name James Bond had just the right sound. Short and masculine. That's why I laughed when James Bond introduced himself to Halle Barry's character as an ornithologist. And since I knew where Fleming got the name from, I knew to look back to see if the book was an inside joke hidden in the previous scene.

The real James Bond
By Jerry Freilich - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

When Ian Fleming was contacted by the wife of the ornithologist about the theft of her husband's name, Fleming gave permission for the real James Bond to use the name Ian Fleming. "Perhaps one day he will discover some particularly horrible species of bird which he would like to christen in an insulting fashion."

Thanks to my buddy Mike for recommending the movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment