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Ian F. Hunt

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Investigative Study – Bond James Bond

Investigative Study

Investigative Study – 50 Years of Bond

The world is celebrating 50 years of the Bond Franchise and with the imminent release of the latest installment, the film Skyfall due to go onto general release I thought it would be opportune to take a personal look at the Bond franchise for my investigative study project.  casino royale poster

The Bond franchise has been recently re-booted with the casting of Daniel Craig as James Bond in the 2006 film Casino Royale. Casino Royale has been made previously as a spoof film starring David Niven, although this was not part of the Bond Franchise, the first of these was Dr No starring Sean Connery, the first and therefore original Bond.

The Bond Franchise needed this re-boot, after all Bond typically portrayed as being in his 40’s would now be in his 90’s without this re-boot and reinvention of the character.

Bond films have always had a contemporary look and basis usually picking up on the politics of the day, current technology albeit taken to the next level. But despite this the early films are still watchable even though the technology feature as state of the art in its day has all been superseded by current technology.

[youtube youtube.com/watch?v=fl5WHj0bZ2Q&w=400&h=275]

For this investigative study project I plan to look at why the Bond Franchise is the longest running and most successful in the World. To touch upon the Social and Gender elements of some of the recently released films, making a comparison, on how they differ, or indeed their similarities with the earlier films.

Key points to discuss

  1. The character M is now a women, does this reflect on real life that at the time of the re-boot in 2006 with Daniel Craig in the Bond role that the head of Mi5 was also a women Eliza Manningham-Buller until she retired in 2007.
  2. The male gaze has long been satisfied by a string of Bonds women in fact it’s known for it but in 2006’s Casino Royale a nod to the Female Gaze was made with Daniel Craig’s appearance emerging from the sea. This scene harks back to Ursula Andress’s appearance in the first Bond Movie Dr No released in 1962.
  3. The female characters appear stronger in the later movies, resisting Bonds charms appearing to reject them. Although there have been strong female characters in the early movies for example Pussy Galore played by Honor Blackman in 1964 film Goldfinger the latest films take this to a new level.
  4. Reflecting Political change, the early films were made in the Communist Era at the height of the Cold War, current films have had to move their storyline away from this and appear to have embraced the idea of Terrorism being the biggest threat to World/British Security.
  5. Conventions – in effect the Bond franchise has re-written the conventions for  a Spy. Previously the image was of a shadowy figure in a long coat and wearing a hat, head titled forward, the brim of the hat casting the face into shadow. The Spy hiding their identities and moving in the shadows. Bond however is antithetical (the opposite) instead he is the sharp dressed British Spy moving in the open, often recognised, using his name openly. Bond still has all the trappings of the modern spy, the cars, the guns and gadgets, the tools of his trade used and then discarded. I could cry when he destroys yet another Aston Martin. Bonds character Instead relies on charm, the rules of the game that his opponents must adhere to, for example he can’t be assassinated there must always be some impediment to prevent this, there must be the opportunity to escape and of course the female character must supply the information he needs and/or assist him in order for him to achieve his aims.
  6. Social conventions – I think we can assume that Bond’s character ignores most of these, he exists outside of these generally in a world without Global Recession, Economics, Taxes, Family. Bonds character  the Globe trotting Spy means that any normal idea of relationships, family life is impossible. His associations are brief and rarely re-visited. He is of no fixed abode he appears to only own what he carries with him the only exception appears to be the Aston Martin DB5, which presumably is parked securely somewhere in London. I suspect he yearns for a more permanent relationship as hinted at in Casino Royale but this could never happen with the life he has chosen, This does not mean that his character does not aspire to that level of relationship and his response to when that is taken away is brutal, again hinted at in Casino Royale and the final sequence when M asks is he still alive referring to when Bond catches up with the man who was involved in the death of Vesper Lynd his love interest in Casino Royale.