Tout le monde le connait, son nom est Bond… James Bond. Créé en 1952 par Ian Fleming, le personnage de James bond a été adapté au cinéma à de multiples reprises. Son Walther PPK à la main, il a parcouru le monde et traversé les époques. Nous vous proposons d’analyser l’image du monde renvoyée par ce James Bond considéré par Ian Fleming comme le « miroir de son temps ».
He is everywhere and he travels the world. His name is Bond… James Bond. He is THE British hero, and as the United Kingdom changes, 007 changes with it. Created by Ian Fleming in 1952, Bond’s character has been adapted for the cinema and has evolved over more than half a century, as well as the British society, technology, and the threats that Bond is faced with. The James Bond phenomenon always generates more spending and benefits, breaking records (such as the biggest explosion in cinema history), attracting sponsors and a large audience.
From Dr. NO to Spectre, how has the myth of the well-known spy evolved?
The dark spy rises
In earlier movies, James was a cool guy, drinking his “shaken, not stirred” Martini, and seducing girls thanks to his British phlegm. But as time passes, the character became more complex. While Sean Connery was more interested in flirting with Moneypenny than in fighting his enemies—thereby appalling his boss M—Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig were much more trigger-happy, killing up to 20 bad guys per film. James Bond has now become a darker hero, whose past was disclosed in the last two 007 films. This past seems to reopen old wounds, as the number of martinis (or beer lately) he drinks increases. But 007 isn’t becoming a boor: overall, he is more of a gentleman. Moreover, the women are no longer just the pretty bikini-clad James Bond Girls, they are complex characters themselves, whose advice and history have an actual influence on the story.
In any case, people seem to like this new hard-fighting and hard-drinking Bond and so do the sponsors.
The 007 phenomenon, Money and Penny everywhere
The James Bond movies are a real showcase of their time and every movie differs from the other mainly because of the evolution of the character and of the novelties that appear in each new film. Through many symbols, the saga illustrates social evolutions. The James Bond movies are known for the numerous partnerships with brands—like Aston Martin or Omega—which feature in films. Cars, watches, alcohol, and even mobile phones, every detail of the world of James Bond is chosen to anchor the character in his world, which mirrors the society we live in. Indeed, James Bond’s symbols have been used to make money through numerous advertising campaigns by using the character’s story and accessories. Music is also a very important aspect of the movies and, besides the famous James Bond theme, each movie has its own song performed by current singers like Paul McCartney with Live and Let Die and more recently Adele with Skyfall and Sam Smith in Spectre.
This saga, which has existed since 1962, has thus mirrored the evolution of society.
The threats in Bond’s line of sight
In addition to the usual stereotypes that come with most British spies – femmes fatales, fast cars, high-tech gadgets – another element has contributed to the success of the series: the representation of people’s geopolitical fears. In each film, James Bond lives in a different geopolitical environment. Thus, we can trace the timeline of key global issues through the eyes of the protagonist. In From Russia with Love (1964), the James Bond played by Sean Connery is very much anchored in the Cold War; whereas in 1977, James Bond (played by Roger Moore) teams up with a KGB agent during the US-USSR detente in The Spy Who Loved Me. With Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan, the Cold War is no longer the backdrop of the series. Bond becomes the guardian of a new world exposed to transnational threats such as drug trafficking—for Dalton in Licence to Kill—or financial criminals—for Brosnan in Goldeneye. Other threats Brosnan struggles with are techno-terrorists and media moguls who want to trigger a war in the South China Sea in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Today, with recent movies, other threats have emerged such as cyber terrorism in Skyfall (2012). Finally, in the latest Spectre, terrorism, extortion, and espionage seem to be the new issues that we have to face. That’s why we can say that we are able to see the spectre of geopolitics in the Bond movies.
James Bond’s evolution reflects changes occurring in society such as threats, technologies, the place of women, and international relations… James Bond’s myth has evolved over the years, thereby mirroring the evolutions of our own world. The fiction is thus not so different from reality.
GOURDEN, Ambre-Luna, LAPIERRE, Camille, & Noémie ZINSOU.