Ernst Stavro Blofeld
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|Ernst Stavro Blofeld|
|James Bond character|
|Created by||Ian Fleming|
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is a fictional character and a supervillain from the James Bond series of novels and films, created by Ian Fleming. A criminal with aspirations of world domination, he is the archenemy of the British Secret Service agent James Bond. Blofeld is head of the global criminal organisation SPECTRE and is commonly referred to as Number 1, an official numerical position given to members of SPECTRE. The character was originally written by Fleming as a physically massive and powerfully built man, standing around 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) and weighing 21.6 stone (about 300 pounds (140 kg)), who had become flabby with a huge belly.
Blofeld appears or is heard in three novels: Thunderball, On Her Majesty's Secret Service; and You Only Live Twice; as well as seven films from Eon Productions: From Russia with Love (1963); Thunderball (1965); You Only Live Twice (1967); On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969); Diamonds Are Forever (1971); For Your Eyes Only (1981) (the pre-title sequence of which shows an unnamed character resembling him fall to his death); and Spectre (2015). He also appears in Never Say Never Again (1983), the non-Eon remake of Thunderball.
Blofeld has been played on screen by Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, Charles Gray, Max von Sydow, and Christoph Waltz, among others. It was initially a convention of the films not to show Blofeld's face, only a close-up of him stroking his white blue-eyed Persian cat.
Many of Blofeld's characteristics have become tropes in popular fiction, representing the stock character of the supervillain, with the stroking of his white cat often retained as a parodic allusion to Blofeld's character, as seen in the Austin Powers film series with the character of Dr. Evil and his cat Mr. Bigglesworth.
Ian Fleming includes information about Blofeld's background in his novel Thunderball. According to the novel, Blofeld was born on 28 May 1908 (which is also Fleming's birthday) in Gdingen, Imperial Germany (now Gdynia, Poland); his father Ernst George Blofeld was Polish, and his mother Maria Stavro Michelopoulos was Greek, hence the well-known Greek name Stavro. After the First World War, Blofeld became a Polish national. As a young man, he was well-versed in the social science disciplines, but also in the natural science and technology disciplines. He first graduated from the University of Warsaw with a degree in Political History and Economics, and then from the Warsaw University of Technology with a degree in Engineering and Radionics. He was then hired by the Polish Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs and appointed to a sensitive communication position, which he used for buying and selling stocks at the Warsaw Stock Exchange.
Correctly foreseeing the coming of World War II, Blofeld made copies of top-secret wires and sold them for cash to Nazi Germany. Before the German invasion of Poland in 1939, he destroyed all records of his existence, then moved first to Sweden, then to Turkey, where he worked for Turkish Radio and began to set up his own private intelligence organisation. During the war, he sold information to both sides. After the defeat of Erwin Rommel, he decided to back the Allied war effort, and was awarded numerous medals by the Allied powers after the war's end. Blofeld then moved temporarily to South America before founding SPECTRE.
It is commonly believed that the name Blofeld was inspired by the English cricket commentator Henry Blofeld's father, with whom Fleming went to school. Henry Blofeld offered on the BBC Radio 4 series Just a Minute that "Ian took my father's name as the name of the baddie."
Blofeld makes three appearances in Ian Fleming's novels. He first appears in a minor role as the leader of SPECTRE in the 1961 novel Thunderball. The plot that he formulates is carried out by his second-in-command Emilio Largo. Blofeld is described physically as a massive man, weighing roughly 20 stone (280 lb; 130 kg), has black crew-cut hair, black eyes (similar to those of Benito Mussolini), heavy eyelashes, a thin mouth, and long pointed hands and feet. He has violet-scented breath from chewing flavoured cachous (breath mints), a habit he adopts whenever he must deliver bad news. A meticulous planner of formidable intellect, he seems to be without conscience but not necessarily insane, and is motivated solely by financial gain. Blofeld's lifestyle is described in one chapter in Thunderball: "For the rest, he didn't smoke or drink and he had never been known to sleep with a member of either sex. He didn't even eat very much."
Blofeld is absent from the next novel, The Spy Who Loved Me, though its events take place while Bond is battling SPECTRE in North America. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963), Bond learns that Blofeld has altered his appearance radically —he is now tall and thin; has reduced his weight to 12 stone (170 lb; 76 kg); sports long silver hair, a syphilitic infection on his nose, and no earlobes; he wears dark green tinted contact lenses to hide his distinctive eyes. Perhaps less calculating than previously, he is notably saddled with the exploitable weakness of snobbery about his assumed nobility, indicating that he is losing his sanity. He is hiding in Switzerland in the guise of the Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp and Bond defeats his vindictive plans to destroy Britain's agricultural economy. In the final sequence of the novel, Blofeld gets revenge by murdering Bond's new wife, Tracy.
In You Only Live Twice, published in 1964, Blofeld returns and Bond finds him hiding in Japan under the alias Dr. Guntram Shatterhand. He has once again changed his appearance. He has put on some muscle, and has a gold-capped tooth, a fully healed nose, and a drooping grey mustache. Bond describes Blofeld on their confrontation as being "a big man, perhaps six foot three (190 cm), and powerfully built." It is indicated that Blofeld has by now gone completely insane, as he all but admits himself when Bond levels the accusation. Bond strangles him to death at the end of the novel. In both On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice, Blofeld is aided in his schemes by Irma Bunt, who is clearly his lover in the latter, and posing as Shatterhand's wife. Bond incapacitates her in their Japanese castle base before it blows up, killing Bunt. The final mention of Blofeld is in the beginning of the next novel, The Man with the Golden Gun, published in 1965.
In the film series, Blofeld first appears in From Russia with Love, then in Thunderball. In these two appearances, his face is not seen, and only his lower body is visible as he strokes his trademark white cat.
Czech actor Jan Werich was originally cast by producer Harry Saltzman to play Blofeld in You Only Live Twice. Upon his arrival at the Pinewood set, both producer Albert R. Broccoli and director Lewis Gilbert felt that he was a bad choice, resembling a "poor, benevolent Santa Claus." Nonetheless, in an attempt to make the casting work, Gilbert continued filming. After five days, both Gilbert and Broccoli determined that Werich was not menacing enough, and recast Donald Pleasence in the role – the official excuse being that Werich was ill. Donald Pleasence used a German accent for the part.
In the third, fourth, and fifth appearances – You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever – he is the primary antagonist, meeting Bond face-to-face. During the opening sequence of Diamonds Are Forever, he reveals to Bond that some of his men have undergone plastic surgery to become his decoy duplicates.
In the film version of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, he is not Tracy Bond's actual killer. He drives the car from which Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat) fires the fatal shots at Tracy, minutes after she married Bond.
In a sixth appearance – in the pre-credit sequence of For Your Eyes Only – he is an anonymous, bald, wheelchair-bound, villain trying to kill Bond once again. Blofeld remains unnamed and unlisted in the film’s end credits. The only clues to his identity are the trademark white cat, similar clothes to his previous onscreen appearances, the dialogue indicating that he and Bond have met before, and the fact that the scene begins with Bond paying his respects at Tracy's grave, often considered by the producers as a means of providing an "immediate continuity link" in the event of a new actor taking the part of Bond (although this was Roger Moore's fifth appearance as Bond). The anonymity of the villain was due to the legal dispute between Kevin McClory and Eon Productions over the Thunderball copyrights.
Blofeld's appearance and personality change according to the personifying actor and the production. He has a full head of black hair in From Russia With Love and Thunderball; a facial dueling scar in You Only Live Twice; no scar or earlobes in On Her Majesty's Secret Service; and silver-grey hair in Diamonds Are Forever. This metamorphosing matches Fleming’s literary portrayal of a master criminal who will go to great lengths to preserve his anonymity, including the use of plastic surgery. He often wears a jacket without lapels, based loosely either on the Nehru jacket or on the Mao suit, a feature which is used in spoofs like the Austin Powers series, though in his early two appearances on film he wore a black business suit.
By November 2013, MGM and the McClory estate had formally settled the issue with Danjaq and MGM and acquired the full copyright to the characters and concepts of Blofeld and SPECTRE. Blofeld consequently reappeared in Spectre, played by Christoph Waltz, and with a new background. He was now born Franz Oberhauser, the son of Hannes Oberhauser, Bond's legal guardian after he was orphaned at the age of 11, making him and Bond adoptive brothers. As a young man, he murdered his father, staged his own death, and took on the alias of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, using his mother's maiden name. He then assembled the global criminal organisation known as Spectre. He is revealed to have been trying for years to destroy Bond, whom he resents for having been his father's favourite; he is thus revealed to have been the power behind the villains of the previous three films. At the end of the film, Bond takes him into custody after foiling his plan to take control of the world's national security intelligence data. This incarnation of Blofeld again wears a jacket without lapels, has a full head of hair, and is disfigured in the course of the film, echoing the Pleasence version's duelling scar. A white Persian cat is also briefly shown.
Table of film appearances
|Year||Film||Actor and notes||Status after the film concludes|
|1963||From Russia with Love||Anthony Dawson as actor (only hands and back of head are seen), Eric Pohlmann as voice actor; the end credits list a question mark instead of an actor's name.||Active/indirect involvement in the field. Never has any contact with Bond.|
|1965||Thunderball||Anthony Dawson as actor (only hands and back of head are seen), Eric Pohlmann as voice actor, both uncredited; end credits do not list Blofeld.||Active/indirect involvement in the field. Never has any contact with Bond.|
|1967||You Only Live Twice||Donald Pleasence. Actor Jan Werich was originally cast, and some clips show his hands petting cat, and tuft of hair can be seen just above back of chair. Pleasence replaced Werich during filming when the latter was deemed unsuited for the role.||Injured in his right hand by a shuriken; escapes.|
|1969||On Her Majesty’s Secret Service||Telly Savalas; appears with earlobes removed to back up claim to a noble title.||Escapes; he was the driver in the drive-by murder of Tracy Bond.|
|1971||Diamonds Are Forever||Charles Gray; appears also as doubles, all created via plastic surgery.||He attempts to escape in his mini-sub, but Bond gains control of it and crashes it into the control room.|
|1981||For Your Eyes Only||John Hollis as actor, Robert Rietty as voice actor; Blofeld's face is not seen close-up and his name isn't used due to the legal battle with Kevin McClory revealed in the film's DVD commentary.||Dropped down a very large chimney from his own helicopter.|
|1983||Never Say Never Again (non-Eon)||Max von Sydow. Appears in a small number of scenes.||Active/indirect involvement in the field. Never has any direct contact with Bond.|
|2015||Spectre||Christoph Waltz; he is initially known by his birth name as Franz Oberhauser, but reveals that he rejected his father's name, and takes his mother's maiden name, Blofeld. He later receives a facial scar (a reference to You Only Live Twice) due to Q's exploding watch.||Captured and arrested by Bond and MI6|
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Blofeld is one of the main characters in the 2012 video game 007 Legends, featured in the mission based on On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in which the character was an amalgamation of the first three actors appearing in the official film series. Throughout the game, he is voiced by Glenn Wrage.
Some of Blofeld's characteristics have become supervillain tropes in popular fiction and media, including the parodies Dr. Claw (and his pet, M.A.D. Cat) from the Inspector Gadget animated series (1983–86), Team Rocket leader Giovanni and his Persian cat from the Pokémon television series and Dr. Evil (and his cat Mr. Bigglesworth) from the Austin Powers film series (1997–2002). The 1999 The Powerpuff Girls episode "Cat Man Do" also features a supervillain with a cat, though it is the feline that turns out to be the criminal mastermind. In The Penguins of Madagascar, the recurring villain Dr. Blowhole, is a parody homage to Blofeld. The main antagonist in CBBC Children's spy comedy M.I. High is a character called "The Grandmaster" whose face is always obscured by shadows or a scarf - he has a pet white rabbit called "General Flopsy".
- Oliver Buckton (8 October 2015). Espionage in British Fiction and Film since 1900: The Changing Enemy. Lexington Books. p. 244. ISBN 978-1-4985-0484-3.
Yet this suggestion of femininity in Blofeld's face is belied by his massive girth, his body "weighed about twenty stone. It had once been all muscle ... but in the past ten years it had softened and he had a vast belly that he concealed behind roomy trousers.
- Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories, published 2006, page 34
- "The Bond Film Informant: Ernst Stavro Blofeld". Mjnewton.demon.co.uk. 28 May 2008. Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
- "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, Henry Blofeld". Bbc.co.uk. 5 December 2003. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
- "BBC Radio 4 - Just a Minute, Series 67, Episode 3". Bbc.co.uk. 2 September 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
- Production Staff (2000). Inside You Only Live Twice: An Original Documentary (Television). MGM Home Entertainment Inc.
-  Archived 19 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
- The Bond Files by Andy Lane and Paul Simpson, published by Virgin in 1999
- Smith, Jim; Lavington, Stephen (2002). Bond Films. London: Virgin Books. p. 178. ISBN 9780753507094.
- "What James Bond Mythology Tells Us About Spectre". Screen Rant. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Vejvoda, Jim. "MGM, Danjaq Settle James Bond Rights Dispute With McClory Estate". IGN. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Andy Lane and Paul Simpson. The Bond Files. Some sources mistakenly identify the voice as Joseph Wiseman's.
- Cork, John; Stutz, Collin (2007). James Bond Encyclopedia. New York: DK Pub. p. 40. ISBN 9780756631673.
- Martens, Todd (28 March 2015). "Spectre trailer reinvents a famous Bond rival". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 November 2015.