When I first read that the James Bond producers had chosen Daniel Craig to play the British secret service agent, I was pessimistic. Too ugly (especially after Pierce Brosnan), too much of a jock…he just didn’t come across as someone who could carry the role. The fact that he could act (wonderful performance in The Road to Perdition) didn’t really seem to count for much since the role of James Bond doesn’t really require extraordinary acting skills.
Well, we finally saw Casino Royale last Sunday and I shouldn’t have underestimated the guy. My mistake. He more than gave justice to the role — he humanized James Bond. Of course, it wasn’t all his doing. The producers and the director clearly intended a turnaround from the previous gadget-heavy flicks from the last decade and a half. Perhaps, the better way of putting it is that the producers made the right decision in casting Daniel Craig as James Bond.
The film is rated PG-13 so we thought it was okay to bring the kids. In fact, because they have enjoyed previous Bond films on DVDs, they were looking forward to seeing Casino Royale although both delivered the usual Yuck! Yucky! lines when they first found out that Daniel Craig would be playing the part. They had seen him in Tomb Raider and thought he was a sissy. So, anyway, we brought them to see Casino Royale.
I was watching for reactions all throughout the film. Some were expected. They were visibly excited to discover that Vesper Lynd had the same cell phone as mine. When 12-year-old Alex saw James Bond’s phone, she told her dad right there and then that she wanted one just like that which, of course, just made her father laugh (that translates to “Dream on, baby”).
I was particularly worried about how they would react to the torture scene. In the past, my husband and I would see a film first then assess if it was okay to let the kids see it. But we have seen far too many PG-13 films where we felt that a G rating would have been more proper so we had no qualms about taking them to see Casino Royale.
When no one said anything, I brought it up with Alex the next day. Of course, the scene upset her. Despite the gore she sees in CSI (which are explainable in scientific terms), torture was a rather new visual concept for her. I mean, of course, she has read about wars in her history books and she knows about atrocities that men are capable of. But to actually see someone being tortured, in such a graphic way, was upsetting for her.
So, I had to explain the scene as best as I could — that it wasn’t just for cinematic purposes. I told her that in real life, it happens especially in war when prisoners are taken and tortured for information. I mentioned the Iraq War and Abu Ghraib although I think it’s too early to show her actual photos. She’s “young” in that sense, far younger than her 14-year-old sister who, I know, would be able to handle the reality in a more mature way. I didn’t want to shock her further but I did let her know that men are capable of far worse acts of violence than what she saw in Casino Royale.
It was an unsettling conversation. And I felt guilty, in a way, because she might not be emotionally prepared to watch such a violent scene. Still, there was a part of me that said I shouldn’t consciously prevent her from seeing violence because it is part of how the world is — that it has always been part of man’s history.
I felt sad that I had to tell her that life is much more than the life she has known so far — that there are people who live under very different circumstances; that, for many, a hard life doesn’t just mean living in the slums. It was so hard finding the right balance to make her aware without unnerving her. I don’t know if that makes sense. The only way I can explain it is by saying that I wanted her to know that some people live very violent lives, that there are children out there, many much younger than they are, who live amid the violence that they may not even comprehend. At the same time, I wanted her to know that all of that should not make her view the world from the perspective of violence alone — that there is also good in man. Nor should she feel guilty that she lives a better life than others do.
Ah, the things that one scene from one movie can elicit… Ang hirap maging nanay.