The James Bond franchise is celebrating its 50th anniversary

Il y a 50 ans, le premier film inspiré des romans d’Ian Fleming « James Bond 007 contre Dr No » est projeté sur les écrans Londoniens.  Dans celui-ci,  Sean Connery, jouant au baccara, allume une cigarette et se présente avec la formule devenue mythique : « Bond… James Bond ». L’agent secret le plus connu au monde a été joué par six acteurs différents dans les 23 épisodes de ses aventures. Mais il a toujours gardé le même goût pour les voitures de sport, les jolies femmes, les gadgets high-tech et le vodka-martini, «au shaker, pas à la cuillère». Et pourtant, il y a cinquante ans, peu de gens pariaient sur un tel succès. Les critiques étaient mitigées. Le Time Magazine qualifiait même Sean Connery d’un « grand marshmallow poilu ». Comment la série a-t-elle réussi à s’adapter aux époques, aux générations? Existe-t-il une recette des films  «James Bond» ? Le film représente-t-il un vrai atout économique pour la Grande-Bretagne ?

James Bond, the longest running hero in history

The first movie hit the big screen in 1962. $4.9 billion tickets were sold for 22 films. The 23rd movie “Skyfall” is already expected to be a huge world success. Initially, James Bond is a product of the “Cold War”. Indeed, his adventures took place in the context of a bipolar world.

Many other movies are about spies… So how can the success of the Bond movies be accounted for? Is there such a thing as a James Bond recipe?

We can offer you one:  the main character, dressed elegantly, is an expert in vintage Champaign and women, goes to heavenly and exotic destinations, does lots of stunts and fighting. The film must contain many action scenes, bad boys, sport cars, high tech gadgets, very beautiful girls, a mesmerising musical theme (created by  Monty Norman and orchestrated by John Barry) and a touch of (British) humour.

Is James Bond a symbol for Great Britain?

The James Bond movies have evolved in the past decades. Its authors have adapted the story to the geopolitical changes. For instance, in 1962, James fought against cold war “villains”, later against  9/11-type terrorists. Because he saved the western world so many times, James Bond gives Great Britain a gratifying image of itself.

Even though Great Britain is no longer the most powerful nation in the world, it still has a crucial role thanks to its ”savoir-faire”, its courage, its determination and the intuition of a spy agent who is full of a charm and humour that is decidedly British and that American spies cannot emulate.

James Bond lives with his time and the films are always politically consensual. They don’t target the Western world only but the entire world. And they reflect Great Britain.

That’s one of the reasons why the country created a campaign to boost British tourism with James Bond’s 50th anniversary.

Does James Bond have a future? 

Whereas Daniel Craig was very much criticized when he took on the role of James Bond, today more people believe he is the best James Bond ever. Indeed, when Casino Royale was released in 2006 it surprised fans: the James Bond played by Daniel Craig was darker and more complicated.

But that’s not all. Skyfall, the latest James Bond film, doesn’t respect the usual codes. Gadgets are despised; women have a secondary role and are less seen as objects, and the movie talks more about the past and the personal history of James Bond. Gadgets, improbable waterfalls and Bond’s numerous conquests would have eventually bored the public. That’s why the co-producer Barbara Broccoli (Albert.R Broccoli’s daughter) decided to modernize the famous special agent’s agent. Thus, the last movies are successful, even if some fans miss the atmosphere of the first movies.

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, an auction sale of objects from James Bond movies was organized and it was a success: fans could buy  Pierce Brosnan’s famous suit in “the world is not enough”, or the Tom Ford sun glasses worn by Daniel Craig in “Quantum of Solace”. Also, the  “50 years of James Bond, 50 years of style” exhibition in London shows that the English spy still seduces the public. Bond is still attractive.

To conclude…

All in all, James Bond is the symbol of a powerful England that saves the western world. So, the 007 agent is a member of the British national heritage. We saw that recently, during the Olympic Games, when Bond accompanied the Queen to the opening ceremony.

However, to keep on seducing his public, 007 had to evolve and will keep on evolving. The rumors are numerous as regards Craig’s possible successors: Idris Elba could be the next James Bond; he would be the first colored Bond, which would be the ultimate modern change.

Elora BARETTE & Justine GAZUIT

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One thought on “The James Bond franchise is celebrating its 50th anniversary

  1. Pingback: The British car industry | Frogs Save The Queen

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