Sam Mendes

The superb new issue of the popular British movie magazine Empire, which has just appeared in retail outlets in the UK, is a must-have SPECTRE special edition, with no less than 39 pages devoted to 007 and his world. It is also guest-edited by director Sam Mendes.

Published with a striking cover image of Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz posing against a gunbarrel background, the glossy new issue of Empire begins with a special ‘Editor’s Letter’ page from Sam Mendes, who comments that, for those of us who believe – as he does – that ‘James Bond is one of the greatest of all contemporary mythologies’, the magazine has plenty to excite ahead of the official release of the movie on October 26th.

The magazine commences it’s coverage of SPECTRE with a report from Mexico, where the action-packed SPECTRE pre-credits sequence was shot against the backdrop of the famous ‘Day of the Dead’ festival. At one point, Daniel Craig comments that: ‘By having Sam back we’ve created a language that’s one foot in the past but hopefully very modern as well…’.

The special issue then moves on to a 2-page exclusive gallery (‘Smiley People’) of Sam Mendes’ behind-the-scenes SPECTRE stills, including a photo of the final production meeting before shooting began on the movie, from the POV of Mendes. There is also a great still of Mendes, Craig, Barbara Broccoli and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, taken on the last day of filming in the desert in Morocco, and not long after the successful detonation of a huge explosion.

Readers are next provided with an interview with Christoph Waltz, who reflects on his general film career and also offers various (very cautious!) comments about his involvement with SPECTRE. According to Waltz: ‘You’re asked to play more than a part when you play in Bond’.

In a section titled ‘Dr. Snow’, readers are then given details on the Austrian filming and, in particular, the effort that went into the sequences shot in the Alpine village of Obertilliach. Before moving on to part 3 of the SPECTRE special, Empire pauses to toast the new movie with a range of specially designed Bond cocktails, each with a title taken from the 007 film franchise.

Part 3 then provides details on the magazine’s final trip to the Bond set, with some discussion of the mechanics of filming at Pinewood Studios. This includes some interesting comments from Mendes on why he changed his mind about directing a second Bond movie, after initially declining to do so. The director also teases about what we can expect in the storyline to the new adventure: ‘There’s some big stuff the movie is moving towards. There are depth charges you hopefully don’t see coming’.

Next comes two pages on the MI6 support crew: ‘M’, ‘Q’, Moneypenny, and Tanner, and this is followed by two pages on ‘007 By the Numbers’ – a collection of entertaining statistics on aspects of the Bond films and novels. For example, did you know that 88 skydives were completed in order to achieve the desired shots in the pre-credits to Roger Moore’s fourth 007 movie Moonraker?

The magazine then moves on to what possibly, for many Bond fans, will be a real highlight of the Empire special: Craig and Mendes sitting on a sofa, interviewed together, and interacting with each other in setting out their thoughts on Bond, some serious and some less so. The two men clearly have a great working relationship, and can also be refreshingly honest with each other!

The final section of the Empire Bond special is devoted to one of the great behind-the-scenes heroes of the Bond franchise: Special Effects supervisor Chris Corbould, who discusses his work on SPECTRE and his career in movie production in general. He admits that the latest Bond movie has been ‘the most complicated one by a long way’.

All in all, the new edition of Empire is packed with plenty of revealing insights into SPECTRE, together with a considerable number of excellent photos never seen before. In our view, Mendes has made a superb job of his guest-editorship. It will be a great addition to any Bond fan’s collection.

The new issue of Empire, November 2015, is on sale now, priced £4.50 in the UK.

Empire Spectre special November 2015