‘Now we need a real Bond,’ says Mail writer

Cold-hearted? Bond is back in Spectre, which reportedly cost £200m to make. © Sony Pictures

Britain’s most famous spy, James Bond, will be back in cinemas on Monday. He has now spent over half a century saving the world. Do we need his kind in real life, or is he a poor role model?

The franchise has survived for 53 years, it’s made £4bn at the box office, and has now spawned its 24th film. On Monday, the latest instalment of the James Bond series will have its world premiere in London. It is sure to generate huge amounts of interest: one of its trailers has already amassed more than 14 million views on YouTube.

Spectre will see Bond, the MI6 secret agent codenamed 007, re-engage with an international crime syndicate he fought in some of his earliest films. Producers have given away few plot details, saying only that ‘a cryptic message from Bond’s past’ will ‘send him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation’.

James Bond was the brainchild of author Ian Fleming and first featured in the novel Casino Royale, published in 1953. The first film, Dr No, was released nine years later. Since then Bond has enjoyed 17 martinis (served shaken, not stirred), killed 352 people and dodged approximately 4,662 bullets. He has saved the human race from nuclear missiles on submarines, and chemical agents fired from space — and all without appearing to age.

He has gained international recognition, as illustrated by his staged parachute jump with the Queen at the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. But Britain’s real spies have been quick to emphasise the difference between their job and the fictional portrayal — MI5’s Director-General, Andrew Parker, said last month he enjoyed the films because they are ‘so distant from reality’.

Daniel Craig, who is starring as Bond for the fourth and final time, says he now has ‘a delicate balance’ to strike between upholding the alpha male spirit of Bond and making the character relevant to the modern world. He has aimed, he says, to bring more ‘weight and meaning’ to the character — ‘it’s not just that he has to kill the bad guy; there has to be a reason for it’ — and adds ‘hopefully, my Bond is not as sexist and misogynistic’ as previous incarnations.

Bonding with Bond

Writer Peter McKay is among those who think that, in today’s dangerous world, we need more people like James Bond. Bond is a brave master of a range of skills, whether technical, mental or physical. He takes responsibility and protects ordinary folk like us from villains, while keeping his sense of humour and without ever asking for our thanks. He would be very handy against enemies like Islamic State at the moment.

Please spare us, others respond. This is a man who isolates himself from others in an attempt to deal with a haunted past, liberally interprets his ‘licence to kill’, and uses women — this is no role model. Perhaps one of the men who played the part, George Lazenby, summed it up best when he said simply: ‘Bond is a brute’.

You Decide

  1. Will you go to see Spectre? Why, or why not?
  2. Does society need more James Bonds?

Activities

  1. Write a memo to Bond from M (his boss), giving him a mission for today’s world.
  2. Write a summary of the plot of your own Bond film, along with a brief description of the personality which you would want Bond to show.

Some People Say...

“Bond is nothing more than a violent sexist.”

What do you think?

Q & A

I’m not going to see the film. Why should I care?
Bond is known worldwide, so his films can help to shape international opinions of British people. Some also say the reverse is true — films can influence the way we perceive the world. But even if you don’t think either of these points is particularly significant, you will still be affected. The debate over Bond’s relevance is a discussion about what sort of art we should produce and enjoy.
Bond isn’t like me. Will I see a Bond like me in the future?
Commentators are currently eagerly speculating over who will replace Daniel Craig. Damian Lewis is currently favourite for the role — but some have suggested Idris Elba could be cast as the first black Bond, or Rosamund Pike, who starred in Die Another Day, could become the first female Bond.

Word Watch

£4bn
The most successful film so far was Skyfall, released in 2012, which fetched over £700m (it was the first of the franchise to make more than US$1bn). The Bond franchise is second only to Harry Potter in this regard.
Ian Fleming
Fleming had the idea of writing spy novels after serving in Britain’s naval intelligence during the Second World War.
Age
Six different men have played Bond: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. Connery and Moore are now in their 80s, but the current Bond (Craig) is 47.
Daniel Craig
Lea Seydoux and Christoph Waltz will star alongside Craig. Seydoux starred in the French film Blue is the Warmest Colour while Waltz’s portfolio includes action films Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.
Sexist
This was referred to in the 1995 film ‘Goldeneye’, when Judi Dench became the first female M (Bond’s boss). Her character directly confronted 007 on his treatment of women, calling him ‘a sexist, misogynist dinosaur’ — as well as ‘a relic of the Cold War’.

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.