Friday, November 9, 2012

James Bond at 50

Sean Connery as James Bond in "Dr. No"
We’ve all been thrilled by the swashbuckling and daring stunts, the beautiful ladies, the fantastic cars, beautiful international locations, flashy espionage gadgets, and the cool and handsome persona. The covert spy, the dashing and debonair Englishman, the ultimate secret of M16, the one and only Bond, James Bond. And it’s been 50 years since Dr. No, the first Bond film to grace the big screen, came out in 1962. Sean Connery was the first James Bond in the franchise, based on the novel of Ian Fleming. Connery was only 32 at that time.

The thrilling espionage movies caught almost everyone’s fancy. Men and women, young and old, got mesmerized by the charisma of the leading men who portrayed James Bond through the years. The series is a worldwide hit. The hit Bond movies have been translated into 11 languages including Spanish, German, French, Italian and Russian. The latest Bond film, Skyfall, will also be translated into Kazakh.

Daniel Craig From The Skyfall's cast and crew arrive on location in Istanbul.
Through the early years of the movie franchise, there were some criticisms that the movies strayed from the books by Ian Fleming. However, once James Bond has settled in as a stand-alone character free from his literary roots, the only thing that remained were the titles and the Bond girls which were either from the books or related to Ian Fleming in some way. The books have also gone on to have a life of their own. Ian Fleming's last book, Octopussy and The Living Daylights, a compilation of short stories, was published two years after his death, in 1966. Since then there have been 40 James Bond books written by a series of authors.

The Bond Persona 

The James Bond of old had developed the persona of being smooth and suave. He was not a macho hero. He was not a tough guy. He was always cool, impeccably dressed, well-mannered, and an intelligent speaker. He’s got charm, and he’s chic. Yet he’s tough. And the Bond films grossed millions.
Sir Roger Moore
James Bond is more of a mantle than it is a role. It is a responsibility, which Sean Connery started with a contract for five movies. George Lazenby was signed up for seven years, but opted out after the first one. After a long wait, the first choice for the role, Roger Moore, finally came to become Bond, and portrayed it the longest, with seven Bond films to his name. Timothy Dalton, came upon the role for two movies. Another actor who waited for a long while, Pierce Brosnan, was up next for the role and ended with four. In Skyfall, Daniel Craig essays the role for the third time.

Bond Influence

The influence of James Bond on popular culture has been for the most part stereotypical. It has also mirrored the changing roles and mores of the times, as well as giving a view of the political climate. James Bond as a character in books and movies has always been evolving. James Bond in books was influenced by Sean Connery after Dr. No. After the first movie was released, the James Bond background and mythology started to fill up. The political backdrop of the Cold War was also very evident even as most of the movies were no longer about the British Empire, the Americans and Soviets, and about Communism.

Pierce Brosnan
James Bond has become not just a movie, but also a perennial event. There is the comfort in expecting a James Bond movie event after every two years. This was very evident with the long wait between Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights, 1987, License to Kill, 1989) and Pierce Brosnan. When Brosnan was finally cast for the role in Golden Eye in 1995, the world was ready to embrace him, assuring a movie hit even before the cameras started rolling.

Besides all the numbers, James Bond is also one of the most influential movie series of all time. It has launched countless copycat movies and series, as well as countless parodies and pastiches in different countries all over the world. The tight mix of tough main character, sexy women, beautiful international settings, and gadgets and devices, has been used as a formula by countless movies. Characters as diverse as Austin Powers (Mike Myers), Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), Matt Helm (Dean Martin), Derek Flint (James Coburn) and Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger), are a direct offshoot and pay homage to James Bond.

Through it all, James Bond has stayed dynamic, up-to-date and relevant to the times. With the continued popularity of the movies, there is no doubt that after Daniel Craig, James Bond would still be a much sought after movie role.

Skyfall starring Daniel Craig comes out this Fall, and this 23rd incarnation of the movie is set to be the fitting cap to the 50th anniversary of James Bond. In an industry that thrives on big achievements, this movie franchise stands out as a giant. Besides being the biggest movie franchise in terms of movies produced (23 movies including Skyfall), and the longest continuously produced series (50 years from 1962 to 2012), it is also the second highest grossing series (after Harry Potter).

Skyfall continues the tradition of fast-paced action, droll British humor, and world dominance (for action movies, at least) and opens this Friday, November 9th.

by: Dine Racoma
Editor, Day Translations, Inc. “The most accurate translations on the planet!”

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