“This man is supposed to be a spy and yet everybody knows he is a spy. Every bartender in the world offers him martinis that are shaken not stirred.”
- Roger Moore
Not many enterprises can boast of never going out of fashion or of never failing to get people talking fifty years down the line. It’s been fifty years since the first Bond film, Dr No, and this past week saw the Bond brand still going strong with the release of the latest film, Skyfall.
The James Bond brand has become such an ever-present part of society that we take for granted the lengths that are gone to to keep the fire of the enterprise burning bright. One of the tricks to this feat is that the Bond character is continually being reborn – from only falling in love twice, giving comic relief through Roger Moore, to the laddish Bond portrayed by Pierce Brosnan. The Bond of each time has to some extent fitted into the generation of his incarnation.
It all began with the books from the 50’s penned by Ian Fleming. The 50’s saw radical change, before the flashy and revolutionary 60’s, and people were looking to inhabit a new radical world apart from the horrors and tragedies of the war. Ian Fleming was a radical in his own way and was witness to a different kind of heroes in action – the intellectual badass and the tough, ruthless men who were well-educated and part of high society. They were the commandoes and special agents that inspired Fleming to write the character of Bond, an Eton dropout and government assassin who was bored by the demure traditions of courtship. Even Bond’s name was a deliberate distancing from the convention of upper-class British “gentlemen” crime fighters. Bond might not be a gentleman in the customary sense of the word, but he is a hero in all kinds of ways.
Although the literary embodiment of Bond provided escapism through a spy who traipsed to exotic locations around the world and bedded highly desirable women, he was not suited to the time he was born into through the novels and the words could not quite do justice to his larger-than-life persona and escapades. Bond became the poster boy of the Swinging 60’s – flippant, sexy, amoral, and oh-so-charming. The first Bond, Sean Connery, and arguably the finest, set the bar for the Bond actor very high.
James Bond is a fantasy, but he has become real enough to millions of fans around the world who have remained faithful to the brand for years and will continue to do so just because there is no hero quite like “Bond, James Bond”.