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The Courier Mail letters editor's one-sided treatment of "Quantum of Solace"

On Monday 1 December a readers' letter which was dismissive of of the movie "Quantum of Solace" was prominently placed on in the middle of the first of the two of Courier Mail's letters pages with a photograph included. "Quantum of Solace" is the latest instalment of the saga of British MI6 agent 007 James Bond consisting of 22 movies going back to "Dr No" made in 1962. Whilst I have mislaid that letter, it, in essence, dismissed the James Bond character played by Daniel Craig as a clone of Jason Bourne played by Matt Damon. Having, by now, seen both movies in which Craig played Bond and having seen "The Bourne Supremacy" I failed to understand his point. The differences between the two seemed quite pronounced.

Two days later a further brief letter also appeared in the pages of the Courier Mail. This letter unfavourably compared "Quantum of Solace" with Baz Luhrman's epic "Australia" starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. The latter correspondent wrote that the audience to "Australia" broke out in spontaneous applause whist the audience to the latter left in silence. That was, in fact true.

Whilst the audience to the Tuesday screening of "Quantum of Solace" also left in silence, that has occurred with a good number of other movies that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Indeed, I never remember ever having been in an audience which has spontaneously applauded at the end of any James Bond movie, so it would be wrong to judge the audience's appreciation of a movie from that alone.

The correspondent, of course, should be applauded for trying to persuade Brisbane audiences to see native grown Australian productions in preference to British productions. Indeed, on the Tuesday this week when our theatre party saw "Quantum of Solace", it was only because we were too late to see "Australia".

Nevertheless, I don't believe either of the correspondents were fair to "Quantum of Solace". I had thoroughly enjoyed the movie and, moreover, greatly appreciated the way the script writers had woven into the script current geo-political themes. This has also been noticed by New Statesman journalist Emma Felber in the article "007 Bolivian socialist?" of 14 Nov 2008.

After reading the second critical letter I was moved to send the letter, included as an appendix to the Courier Mail in plenty of time for today's edition of the paper:

My letter was not published in Thursday's paper, nor was any other favourable to "Quantum of Solace". None had been published on Tuesday or Wednesday, either, so the Courier Mail letters' editor's treatment of that movie appears to have been one-sided and unfair to date.

For me it is a vexed issue when films like "Quantum of Solace" take on board progressive pro-environmental themes. Objectively, over the longer term, the massive budgets for films such as these represent a huge waste of our endowment of finite non-renewable natural resources. On top of that, the encouragement of many in the movie audiences to emulate the profligate consumption by the movie's central character of fast cars, lavish hotel accommodation, electronic gizmos, expensive clothes, alcohol, gourmet food, etc, etc, would further compound the problem.

The plot of "Quantam of Solace" implies that MI6 can be expected to act to prevent evil corporations seizing the natural assets of countries like Bolivia and trashing their environments, albeit only after internal political struggles between cynical pragmatists on the one hand and those upholding principles of accountability and respect for the self-determination on the other. In reality, it is almost certain that in such circumstances, MI6 will work as one precisely to serve the interests of such corporations against the interests of the people. Nevertheless, in spite of this over-riding unreality, the plot includes insightful discussion of the meddling of countries like the US (if not the UK) in the affairs of Latin America, the way corporations manipulate Governments to get heir agreement to plunder the natural resources of those countries and how fake environmental organisations only act to make the ecological crisis worse. No doubt those in control of the Courier Mail would not feel comfortable about Brisbane audiences being exposed to these sorts of ideas.

Notwithstanding the progressive an pro-environment political themes in "Quantum of Solace", if we, in Queensland, are to similarly prevent evil corporations, aided by their local henchmen and henchwomen - like Queensland's Premier, Anna Bligh, from gaining control of our natural resources and continuing to trash our natural environment, then we will need to do it ourselves with large-scale grass roots political action and not expect some outside knight in shining armour to do it for us.

Appendix: unpublished letter sent to the Courier Mail on 3 December

I beg to differ with the verdicts on the latest James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace" printed in you paper on Monday and Wednesday.

Having arrived too late to see "Australia" on Tuesday, our party, instead, saw "Quantum of Solace" and I thoroughly recommend it. I would concede that the movie was not as good as "Casino Royale", but it had a very hard act to follow.

The film producers should be commended for having woven into the script current geo-political themes, such as the looming global shortage of petroleum, how fake environmental organisations act to make the current ecological crisis worse, the meddling by the US in the affairs of Latin America, and attempts by private corporations to seize control of those countries' natural assets, including water.

As some with inside knowledge, including former Labor Queensland state MP Cate Molloy, believe that the Bligh Government intends to privatise our water infrastructure, this movie may be more directly relevant to Brisbane audiences than many would realise.

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