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The GoldenEye Dossier: a decade online

On Sunday, April 17, 2011 –ten years ago today– The GoldenEye Dossier first went online, missing (for five months) to become the chance to be a 15th anniversary tribute to GOLDENEYE but succeeding the mission to reappreciate the 1995 United Artists film that revitalized the James Bond franchise for a new generation of Bondmaniacs, which felt generationally identified with Pierce Brosnan in the role of Ian Fleming's 007. As we all know, this sucessful entry in the Bond series led to a video game adaptation of the story for the Nintendo 64 console system in 1997, and between 2004 and 2011 there were other Bond-licenced games using the words "GOLDENEYE" in the title.

But when did things really begin? Normally, things begin a lot earlier than the day they are announced and this site was not an exception. The idea to create a site dedicated to the legacy of GOLDENEYE had its origins in the mind of Nicolás Suszczyk, a James Bond enthusiast from Argentina, in mid-2010: "I always had the dream of writing Bond articles since the early days of my childhood when issues of 007 MAGAZINE and the 1998 edition of THE ESSENTIAL BOND (by Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall) came to my hands. I wanted to be like these guys, but doubted I'd reach that far because I literally live in the bottom of the world and my budget is zero", he explains. Nicolás began writing articles for sites in Spanish like Bondcollection and Archivo 007 in the 2000s and had a few, very basic Geocities pages in the same language dedicated to the secret agent, but as his favourite Bond film was reaching its fifteenth anniversary, he thought that the film was so appreciated and well-remembered that an online tribute was due.

"I didn't have a PC at home until 2008 and internet connection until late 2012, so back then I went to cyberstations to check up news on Bond, find stills and trailers from new and old films and see what others have made in the cyberspace. I remember fondly Nuvs' James Bond site and Universal Exports, but I spent many minutes in Drummond Grieve's tribute site for ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE and that was a huge impact on me. If OHMSS had a site with loads of posters, screencaps, DVD specs, stills, articles... why not GOLDENEYE which is also linked to one of the most popular and lucrative video games of all time?"

GOLDENEYE has always been Nicolás' favourite Bond adventure. As a 90s kid, he remembers the game and the Nintendo 64, but after seeing that famous game was based on a movie that was about to be broadcasted on TV, he urged his father to watch it. "We all sat together, with my mom, even though they were divorced, to watch the movie. I was mind-blown since I saw Pierce walking down the gunbarrel, even on the small resolution of a tube TV screen. Weeks later, I watched TOMORROW NEVER DIES on the big screen. Then the older films on VHS as I was expecting for THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, and I suddenly became a James Bond fan. Schoolmates wondered if I was talking about JAMES BOND JR. I said "No, James Bond. 007. GOLDENEYE. It's on TV. And there's a N64 game!"

That was in 1998. Flash forward to 2011, which didn't begin so nicely: "2010 was atrocious, a bunch of shattered illusions. That year I expected that everything that went wrong in 2009 could get better, yet it didn't. I've just finished high school, sat on the baccarat table of adult life, went banco, and I was cleaned out like Ian Fleming against the Germans in the Casino Estoril", he ironizes.

"I got paid very little when I eventually became the webmaster of one of the Bond sites I wrote for, but things didn't go as expected. The money wasn't big either and life had to go on. By the end of 2010 I got a (real) job for a month in another place, which was acceptable for a first formal job, but it wasn't really a place I could fit in. The end of 2010 was riddled with a lot of disappointments and the realization that things aren't as tidy as they were at school, therefore 2011 began with little hope, really. I just needed a stable job and then I could think of everything else. On the bright side, I managed to buy with my small salary a second-handed Nintendo 64 and the original GOLDENEYE 007 game online, back in the day when the fever of retro-gaming collecting wasn't that huge."

Mornings were spent by going to job interviews, afternoons by typing in a few articles before they were saved on an USB drive and sent via mail to websites on a cyberstation's computer. Then there was some time to replay a bit of GOLDENEYE 007 on the N64, where he managed to beat the game in Agent: "Not really an achievement, but I'm not a huge gamer and, as a kid, when my dad rented the N64 with the game on a game store for the weekend, I couldn't go past the Facility level. If I had played the final levels of the campaign like Streets or Cradle or Control, it was only because someone had rented the game before and his progress was saved on the cartridge".

There weren't positive results anywhere and, although he did go to many interviews that seemed to go very well, he didn't get the job. "I needed a place to fit in as an adult, an era had ended by a new one didn't seem to begin. Love was also a priority back then, and the fact that a girl I really liked very much, someone I had a short encounter with, got a boyfriend didn't make me feel better either. Things seemed to just slip out of my hands". He redoubled his efforts to get a job. These efforts wouldn't pay off until September of that year when he was hired to do administrative duties on an attorney's office, but in April he began working on The GoldenEye Dossier.

"I started to design banners with Microsoft PowerPoint and other design programs. I wrote a press release. I didn't want the site to act like a blog, but it seemed like the only option on Blogger, so I decided to make sections in entries: as there was no internet at home, I wrote press releases, trivia facts, designed the graphical assets and concieved a Facebook page. Spent almost two hours on a cyberstation as I uploaded the site and set up the Facebook page. I was learning how Blogger worked on the way and conceived the site as a place that would contain news related to subsequent home video releases of GOLDENEYE, the cast and crew and the world of Bond, in general. I posted a lot of SKYFALL news as soon as it was announced, but one of the earliest posts was the trailer of AGE OF HEROES, a film with Sean Bean based on Ian Fleming's Assault Unit 30. Had two excuses to share news about it".

The site's principal visual motif was a publicity still of GOLDENEYE featuring Pierce Brosnan kissing Izabella Scorupco on the neck, while holding his Walther PPK gun: "Terry O'Neill took it and I always loved it. Represents exactly the combination of danger, exoticism and sensuality James Bond is about. A simple shot that summarizes the world of Bond brilliantly". The GoldenEye Dossier also tried to recollect a good bunch of rarely seen stills from the film, but the basic scheme of Blogger didn't seem to allow the option of a still gallery, so, Facebook came in handy.

"Another website I adored, which I explored thoroughly in 2006 as CASINO ROYALE was about to hit cinemas, was Eva Green Web, now an official source for the French actress and former Bond girl". The site had a gallery where many images of her projects were organized by folders, from public appearances to photoshoots, magazine scans, film screencaps and official stills: "It was a veritable source for Bond fans. Many of us got new CASINO ROYALE stills thanks to it, more than people would dare to admit. That style is the one I used on Facebook albums: you had images classified as production stills, newspaper clippings, fan arts, posters...". Curiously, his appreciation for that site would go beyond The GoldenEye Dossier: "One of the members of the staff became a dear, very close friend. She got me GOLDENEYE on Blu-ray, too. I had the chance to praise her work and tell her how much that inspired me. Everything anyone else didn't like about me, she adored it. It's just someone I shall never forget, an unique and irreplaceable person that sadly isn't with us anymore but shall live in my heart forever."

There was no monetary gain in The GoldenEye Dossier, but there was a very positive feedback not just from the James Bond fans: "As soon as I set up other social accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, I learned that the love for GOLDENEYE exceeded Bond. It was a generational thing. Many followers perhaps didn't have a big Bond knowledge or followed the series too much beyond the Pierce Brosnan era, but they joined in just because they adored the game or had a fascination with Xenia Onatopp. That was so cool to see".

With each passing year, the popularity of The GoldenEye Dossier grew bigger and bigger with the collaboration of many fans who shared the word about it and some people who agreed to be interviewed, such as GOLDENEYE 64's composer Grant Kirkhope, publicity photographer John Stoddart, actor Pavel Douglas, main title designer Daniel Kleinman and John Altman, who composed the famous music for the film's tank chase sequence. Also interviewed were Starr Parodi and Jeff Fair, who made a special James Bond Theme arrangement for the film's trailer, and GOLDENEYE: SOURCE composer Yannick Zenhäusern, who is now working on the original video game SPIES: DON'T DIE.

For the 20th anniversary of GOLDENEYE in 2015, which coincided with the release of SPECTRE, the site was very active on social media by covering different aspects of the film for twelve months. Austin Skinner also joined the project with his unique and imaginative Trevelyan's Mainframe columns. Unfortunately, during the next three years the site's activity began to decay: "I wasn't feeling well. I needed to come out with a big reinvention that would engage visitors, but I just couldn't concentrate. The site should have had a bigger presence for the 20th anniversary of the N64 game, but I really didn't now what to do. I was experiencing some sort of 'writer's block' produced by a 'real' job that literally ripped my soul out. Also, my father passed away one year earlier and things were like mixing up in a nasty way. It was all a bit like 2010 and 2011, only that in a cruder way".

After leaving that job, Nicolás began working on a bigger and overhauling update for The GoldenEye Dossier. By late 2018 and early 2019, things were also a bit stalled, but with the 25th anniversary of GOLDENEYE approaching in 2020, he tried to find away to bring to life that site he wanted The GoldenEye Dossier to be in 2011: leaning more into a static tribute site instead of a blog that had to be updated frequently and was mostly focused on news.

"I discovered that Wix was a good editor and easy to handle for what I had in mind. So, I took a couple of months in 2019 and designed the new site which included a gallery, informative sections and an updated version of the blog. I did it slowly, taking my time, so It could go online as soon as 2020, the year of GOLDENEYE's silver anniversary, began. On January 1 at midnight".

What Nicolás didn't know in January 2019 was that something else would come up out of GOLDENEYE: out of a job, he decided to type a few notes on his favourite film. "Misery was eating me up alive, really. I don't want to go into details, but I was really broke and the financial situation of my country didn't help. I had typed some words about Martin Campbell's career which would eventually turn into a book, but I felt I needed more information on his films. Then one day I was talking with my friend Jack Walter Christian and told him: "Would people read a book dedicated to GOLDENEYE?", and his answer convinced me: "Do it, people would lick the pages!". That was it, that was how THE WORLD OF GOLDENEYE began".

He rewatched the film another countless of times and re-read John Gardner's novelization, this time in English, to make a comprehensive analysis of the movie, which was to be followed by a chapter focusing on the video game versions. "I investigated a lot. I found James Chapman's LICENCE TO THRILL book a very interesting read, so I tried to analyze GOLDENEYE through its political context which is strongly marked in the movie. A short frame reveals General Ourumov was part of the August 1991 coup against Gorbachev, so I investigated about it and tried to elaborate on this character's Soviet seal". For a self-published book, the product sold incredibly well to readers from all over the world and nine months later, in March 2020, an updated edition was released to commemorate the film's 25th anniversary: this new edition expanded some of the previous chapters and added additional material, such as a small image gallery, new chapters and a mini-encyclopaedia with 700 entries covering all GOLDENEYE, the films and the games.

"Many times people questioned my love for James Bond or GOLDENEYE and saw it as something banal, a waste of time. In 2019, it made a disgraceful year a lot less painful. Sometimes, what other people think it's a waste of time can become a life saving device. Few people will understand how much pain, frustration, tears, fury and hunger took place as I was writing that book you now have in your shelf. I can't be thankful enough to those who have bought it".

As COVID-19 loomed over people and delayed the release of Bond 25 aka NO TIME TO DIE for countless times, The GoldenEye Dossier celebrated the silver anniversary of GOLDENEYE in full glory with "On This Day" reminders, one of which was liked and commented by Pierce Brosnan himself on Instagram, and other features lined up under the #GoldenEyeAt25 hashtag. 2020 also saw the release of THE FILMS OF MARTIN CAMPBELL and FOR ENGLAND, JAMES: NOTES ON THE VISUAL IMPACT OF GOLDENEYE. "It was unfair to leave it rotting on my hard drive when it was complete in a 70 per cent, so I finished my Martin Campbell book and published it. I wish I could have expanded it more, but there wasn't really too much information on his early films. But I'm happy to see such a great director has a book dedicated to him. As for FOR ENGLAND, JAMES... there are great frames in GOLDENEYE: small tiny details that gone missing, but if you go through them with time, you can see more interesting things there than in any of today's pretentious productions. So, I went scene by scene, almost frame by frame, and turned that into a book. None of them sold as well as THE WORLD OF GOLDENEYE, but I'm happy with them".

Where will The GoldenEye Dossier go for the 25th of the Nintendo 64 game and the 30th anniversary of the movie? "I dream with re-releasing the film worldwide in glorious 4K and having the whole cast together invited. I want that to be a party for all those who became Bond fans thanks to GOLDENEYE, so we can all look them in the eyes and thank them for such wonderful memories. I particularly want to tell Eric Serra that his score really fitted the mood of the film. And I want to tell Pierce Brosnan that he is, for me and many people, what Sean Connery was for kids and teens in the 60s. I said I dream, because I seriously doubt that'll happen considering how short I am on resources to make it happen. As for GOLDENEYE 64's silver anniversary... well, I'll certainly do something bigger than what I did in 2017".

Whenever we watch a movie, read a book, listen to an album or visit a website, we know little of what goes behind. This article showed you a little more of what was behind The GoldenEye Dossier throughout a decade, and a true labor of love to the movie that guaranteed the existence of James Bond into the new millennium. "Whenever I pop GOLDENEYE into the Blu-ray player, I get transported to that moment where I sat with mom and dad in front of that old TV to watch the film. I remember the Aston Martin DB5 from Johnny Lighting that my dad bought me. I remember the days where I entered the classroom pointing everyone with an imaginary PPK as Bond does in the Facility. I remember the times playing the game's multiplayer mode with my dad. I remember that the disc I'm watching was the gift of a beautiful woman that meant so much in my life. The film evokes times, memories, places... people. And every time feels like the first time."

Here's to another decade, and thank you for the continued support, dear readers. There is no substitute.

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