From Russia with Love: Excess Excised

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Faneditor Name:
Tagline:
Red wine with fish, well that should have told me something.
Original Movie Title:
Franchise:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1963
Original Running Time:
115
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
108
Time Cut:
7
Subtitles Available?
Available in HD?
Brief Synopsis:
The usual removal of superfluous shots and scenes for a tighter narrative and less distraction, plus a remixed beginning for a little misdirection.
Intention:
One of the closest adaptations of any of Ian Fleming’s novels, Terence Young’s 1963 film “From Russia with Love” is often considered one of the greatest Bond adventures. After doing a light edit to tidy up a few items I was never fond of, I started thinking that a little more tinkering could produce interesting results.

In the 1957 book the plot is instigated by SMERSH (Smert Shpionam "Death to Spies"), the early archenemy of James Bond and a fictionalisation of a real-life Soviet organisation. Either trying to be more apolitical and/or not wanting to date the stories by tying them to the Cold War, Fleming shifted focus to the completely fictitious SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligance, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) in 1961’s “Thunderball” and the two other Bond books published in his lifetime.

I wondered if SPECTRE’s involvement here could be concealed for a little while so a fresh viewer might think that the scheme is a SMERSH plot (the name is still mentioned), right up until we come to Blofeld himself about ten minutes later than in the original. By altering the scene order between the credits and Bond’s first (proper) appearance I believe it works out quite well.
Other Sources:
Sourced from 2013 blu-ray set.
Special Thanks:
Many thanks to lapis molari and Problem Eliminator for their encouragement and helpful suggestions.
Release Information:
Digital
Editing Details:
First items removed were a few moments that immediately stuck out to me as unnecessary, Bond spending a day with the two women after the camp fight and his actions towards Tania after finding Kerim and Benz on the train. Next came the idea to mislead the audience at the beginning, a little scene rearranging and a couple of additional edits seem to have produced the desired results. I then had a few suggestions from other users, after trialling them I found that I agreed and such changes are marked on the cutlist.

Exported Full HD H265 with 5.1 channel sound.
Cuts and Additions:
• Venice scene moved to later, faded from black into Istanbul late to avoid original fade from SPECTRE Island.
• Added “Istanbul” title card (extracted letters from opening credits) over establishing shot, think it fair to say that most people would not recognise the location (unlike Venice) and the move is not unprecedented in Bond films (such as for Tangier in “The Living Daylights”).
• The final part of Tania’s journey to meet Klebb now features a push-in (with new pillar-boxes maintaining the aspect ratio) to conceal Donald Grant (who is now yet to be introduced) on the left-hand side.
• Cut Tania knocking on the door, Klebb opens it right away as if she knew the precise moment (hopefully invoking a little Cold War paranoia).
• End of Tania/Klebb scene now ends after “Or you will be shot!”, consider rest superfluous even though it comes (considerably toned down) from the book. Now fades into the helicopter approaching over SPECTRE Island (now never named as such, always sounded silly to me anyway), cutting the earlier part of the scene where the masseuse arrives.
• Repeated a section of the clean helicopter idling audio to mute the first part of the conversation “Welcome to SPECTRE Island, a great honour”.
• Removed “in Istanbul” from Klebb’s last line so as not to clash with the upcoming view of Venice.
• Faded to Venice (the original scene following the opening titles) early to beat the original fade to Istanbul.
• Trimmed out Klebb saying “It is most unlikely she would know I am now working for SPECTRE”, she now sounds more certain of her new loyalty being kept secret (particularly important since in this version she has already approached Tania).
• Cut from Klebb’s last shot (sorry Kronsteen) to Bond on the river, fading audio in early.
• Made a few trims to the two-woman fight scene so it plays a little more seriously (if that is at all possible): no undressing, no face-off at the start, no trying to gouge eyes (with a slightly silly facial expression) and less attempting to choke one another on the ground.*
• Cut Kerim saying that they will have to find Krilencu tomorrow.
• Cut the scene where Bond spends time in the company of the fighters at the camp, it just showed that an entire day was spent doing nothing important.
• Trimmed the start of the scene between Bond and Tania that occurs just after he finds Kerim (and they miss their rendezvous) so he no longer comes across as a brute. We now fade into her Tania upset at the situation rather than being attacked, even the literary Bond with all his many flaws never does anything like this to my knowledge (in this specific scene he does no more than ask “…sharp, brutal questions”).
• Rearranged sequences after the train stops to enable removal of boat fight: Bond and Tania escape with the truck; Blofeld exercises discipline; helicopter attack and departure on the boat; fade to Venice just after Tania asks where they are going. Pasting in a bit of later dialogue during the latter scene allows for a slower/more natural fade (with slowed down establishing shot), he now responds "Venice, with a bit of luck we shall be there by tomorrow morning."*
• Tried to smooth over the jarring audio cut just before Tania asks “What is it?” as Bond looks at the film reel.
• Removed final shot of Bond waving, fade from first “The End” shot to the one that pans up while the rest of the credits roll.*

*Items edited at the suggestion of others

User reviews

2 reviews
Overall rating
 
9.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.5(2)
Visual Editing
 
9.5(2)
Audio Editing
 
10.0(2)
Narrative
 
10.0(2)
Enjoyment
 
10.0(2)
Overall rating
 
9.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
This makes an already great Bond film even better. I loved the new structure at the begining which creats a bit more mystery and intrigue as to what is going on. The boat chase towards the end is not missed at all as the helicopter fight works as a better final battle. I loved the moment when the door opens without her knocking and Klebb is standing there, very creepy. And taking out the following day in the gypsy camp made perfect sense, providing much more urgency to Bonds mission.
What did not work perfectly for me was Bond enterogating Tatiana on the train. I get the editor wanted to make Bond less brutal but cutting straight to her all disheveld felt off. I could tell there was a cut their. Also the first two scenes the characters are speaking Russian and I wonder if we could have subtitles for this.
Overall it is a great edit that improves on the original.

User Review

Format Watched?
Digital
Owner's reply April 10, 2022

So glad you enjoyed it, many thanks for the review! Regarding the issue of Tania looking dishevelled, I cannot think of a way around it if I want to remove the violence of the scene, my best hope is that viewers assume that she started started crying at the news. The fact that any viewers of the edit are almost certainly very familiar with the source doesn't help matters, maybe I could convince a non-fan friend to get an idea of how realistic this is.

I never thought about adding subtitles that were not already present (unlike my non-English language edits), would need to check what is available on the disc. Besides this though I am yet to attempt adding sub files to edited videos, will definitely look into such things in the future.

Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 1 0
Overall rating
 
9.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
For me, "From Russia With Love" is almost perfect and probably my favorite Bond film, since it's so close to the book and feels like a real cold-war espionage film instead of the flashy spy popcorn action films the series evolved to.
BUT, it had a somewhat embarrassing gypsy-fight scene (and day after) and a rather dull boat chase near the end, that was unneeded since a final confrontation was soon to occur anyway.
ParanoidAndroid does away with all that and also adds a really nice mislead in the beginning so that the audience isn't aware of all the plot from the start of the movie.... Which gave me an idea... what if Robert Shaw's character wasn't introduced from the start and his motives and loyalties weren't explained up until the final part? That would certainly be interesting!
But I digress, ParanoidAndroid's cuts seemed to me pretty seamless, the narrative works perfectly and the only thing I'd like to be improved is the file's bitrate. The version I watched had a somewhat low bitrate. Anyway, this fanedit is definitely recommended!

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched?
Digital
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 3 0