Napoleonic references in Bond films

Other than being a life-long Bond fan, I am also a big Napoleonic history buff... Occasionally my two passions meet!

In trying to recall any and all references to Napoleon/the Napoleonic era in the EON Bond films, I came up with these instances:

Dr. No
- Doctor No has a portrait of Wellington in his lair.
- Bond makes a quip about how "our asylums are full of people who think they're Napoleon... or God."

A View to a Kill
- In Paris, M chides Bond for "breaking most of the Napoleonic Code".
- Zorin has a large portrait of Napoleon in his study.

The Living Daylights
- Whitaker has a life-sized statue of himself dressed as Napoleon.
- Whitaker to Bond: "I should've known you'd seek refuge behind that British vulture Wellington... You know he had to buy German mercenaries to beat Napoleon, don't you?"
- Whitaker dies with his body prostrate across a diorama model of the Battle of Waterloo.
- Bond: "He met his Waterloo."

Are there any others I'm forgetting? Is Napoleon brandy ever mentioned? Perhaps one of the naval paintings in M's office is of Trafalgar (1805) or the Nile (1798}?


  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache ~ Defender of the Continuation.
    edited February 2016 Posts: 12,772
    May I say this is a very interesting idea for a thread that I have only just noticed now, @CraterGuns.

    Well it's not a film reference but the Mr Big of Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die novel from 1954 had the real name of Buonaparte Ignace Gallia, the initials making up BIG, hence the apt shorter name of Mr Big. Bonaparte was of course the surname of Napoleon, albeit Mr Big's first name is spelled slightly differently with the addition of an "e". Fleming was most likely wanting to link Mr Big (also called The Big Man or Big) with one of the big men of history - Napoleon.

    That is the only other Napoleon reference in the Bond universe apart from Fleming creating the character name of Napoleon Solo for Norman Felton which later became The Man From UNCLE TV series, but I suppose that that is by the by for this thread.

    I hope that that is of some help to you, @CraterGuns! :)
  • Posts: 370
    Thanks. I hadn't been able to think of any other references in the interim.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited June 2015 Posts: 23,883
    Certainly there is a Napoleonic complex running through some of the villains. Diminutive Dominic Greene comes to mind but I'm sure there are others.....
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 4,874
    After these, @CraterGuns...
    Dr. No
    - Doctor No has a portrait of Wellington in his lair.
    - Bond makes a quip about how "our asylums are full of people who think they're Napoleon... or God."

    A View to a Kill
    - In Paris, M chides Bond for "breaking most of the Napoleonic Code".
    - Zorin has a large portrait of Napoleon in his study.

    The Living Daylights
    - Whitaker has a life-sized statue of himself dressed as Napoleon.
    - Whitaker to Bond: "I should've known you'd seek refuge behind that British vulture Wellington... You know he had to buy German mercenaries to beat Napoleon, don't you?"
    - Whitaker dies with his body prostrate across a diorama model of the Battle of Waterloo.
    - Bond: "He met his Waterloo."

    Since your original post, MI6 addressed the topic in an article early this year.
    Bond's Napoleonic Imagery, Julian Parrott, 18 January 2018.

    Even so, not mentioned there I can add:
    Never Say Never Again
    - Largo to Domino: "That belonged to Napoleon's empress. That is my greatest treasure. Take it. Take it. But be careful. That is your... wedding present."

    Tomorrow Never Dies
    - Carver to Bond: "Caesar had his legions, Napoleon had his armies... I have my divisions. TV, news, magazines. And by midnight I'll have reached and influenced more people than anyone in the history of this planet, save God Himself. And the best he ever managed was the Sermon on the Mount."

    With Never Say Never Again, I don't think that represents a replica of something that exists in real life. Open for correction, of course.

    There are only a couple references to Napoléon in the books, can pull those out as well.

  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Area 52
    Posts: 32,538

    Bill Tanner
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Hamburg, near the Atlantic Hotel
    Posts: 3,926
    I am surprised that no one has yet mentioned The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up. I understand that the vessel was part of the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, however decisive. And using the painting to show the parallels to Bond's "career" in SF was nothing less than brilliant.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 4,874
    Yeah, that's the connection. In the Fleming books there are mentions of Trafalgar Square and Trafalgar "Palace".

    Live and Let Die, Ian Fleming, 1954.
    Chapter XIII - Death of a Pelican

    Already as they idled up Central Avenue on their way across the town to the Yacht Basin and the main harbour and the big hotels, Bond caught a whiff of the atmosphere that makes the town the 'Old Folks Home' of America. Everyone on the sidewalks had white hair, white or blue, and the famous Sidewalk Davenports that Solitaire had described were thick with oldsters sitting in rows like the starlings in Trafalgar Square.
    Diamonds Are Forever, Ian Fleming, 1956.
    Chapter 3 - Hot Ice
    Bond nodded. "Specialist crooks never take other people's lines seriously. I bet he wouldn't have talked to her about one of his country house jobs."

    "Not on your life," agreed Vallance. "Or we'd have had him inside years ago. Anyway, it seems he was contacted by a friend of a friend and agreed to do a smuggling job to America for $5000. Payable on delivery. My girl asked him if it was drugs. And he laughed and said 'no-better still, Hot Ice'. Had he got the diamonds? No. His next job was to contact his 'guard'.
    Tomorrow evening at the Trafalgar Palace. Five o'clock in her room. A girl called Case. She would tell him what to do and go over with him."
    Vallance got up and paced to and fro in front of the framed forgeries of five pound notes that lined the wall opposite the windows. "These smugglers generally go in pairs when big stuff is being moved. The carrier is never quite trusted, and the men at the other end like to have a witness in case anything goes wrong at the customs. Then the big men don't get caught napping if the carrier talks."
    "Know anything about the woman?"

    "Passport details. American citizen. 27. Born San Francisco. Blonde. Blue eyes. Height 5 ft 6 in. Profession: single woman. Been over here a dozen times in the last three years. May have been more often under a different name. Always stays at the Trafalgar Palace.
    The hotel detective says she doesn't seem to go out much. Few visitors. Never stays more than two weeks. Never gives any trouble. That's all. Don't forget that when you meet her you'll have to have a good story yourself. Why you're doing the job and so on."

    "I'll see to that."
    Dr. No, Ian Fleming, 1958.
    Chapter XX - Slave Time

    "What do you think, Colonial Secretary?" The Governor's voice was hustled.

    Bond listened to the first few words. He gathered that Pleydell-Smith agreed with the other two. He stopped listening. His mind drifted into a world of tennis courts and lily ponds and kings and queens, of London, of people being photographed with pigeons on their heads in Trafalgar Square, of the forsythia that would soon be blazing on the bypass roundabouts, of May, the treasured housekeeper
    in his flat off the King's Road, getting up to brew herself a cup of tea (here it was eleven o'clock. It would be four o'clock in London), of the first tube trains beginning to run, shaking the ground beneath his cool, dark bedroom. Of the douce weather of England: the soft airs, the 'heat waves, the cold spells'-'The only country where you can take a walk every day of the year'--Chesterfield's Letters?
    Casino Royale, John Huston, Ken Hughes, Val Guest, Robert Parrish, Joseph McGrath, 1967.

    - And do you know what he said?

    - What?

    - England expects every man to do his duty.

    - So he did, yes. But this is Mayfair. Lord Nelson's in Trafalgar Square surely.

  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 4,874
    More Napoléon mentions.

    Goldfinger, Ian Fleming, 1959.
    Chapter Three - The Man With Agoraphobia
    Goldfinger made such a fetish of sunburn. Without the red-brown camouflage the pale body would be grotesque. The face, under the cliff of crew-cut carroty hair, was as startling, without being as ugly, as the body. It was moon-shaped without being moonlike. The forehead was fine and high and the thin sandy brows were level above the large light blue eyes fringed with pale lashes. The nose was fleshily aquiline between high cheek-bones and cheeks that were more muscular than fat. The mouth was thin and dead straight, but beautifully drawn. The chin and jaws were firm and glinted with health. To sum up, thought Bond, it was the face of a thinker, perhaps a scientist, who was ruthless, sensual, stoical and tough. An odd combination.
    What else could he guess? Bond always mistrusted short men. They grew up from childhood with an inferiority complex. All their lives they would strive to be big - bigger than the others who had teased them as a child. Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was the short men that caused all the trouble in the world.
    And what about a misshapen short man with red hair and a bizarre face? That might add up to a really formidable misfit. One could certainly feel the repressions. There was a powerhouse of vitality humming in the man that suggested that if one stuck an electric bulb into Goldfinger's mouth it would light up. Bond smiled at the thought. Into what channels did Goldfinger release his vital force? Into getting rich? Into sex? Into power? Probably into all three. What could his history be? Today he might be an Englishman. What had he been born? Not a Jew - though there might be Jewish blood in him. Not a Latin or anything farther south. Not a Slav. Perhaps a German - no, a Bait! That's where he would have come from. One of the old Baltic provinces. Probably got away to escape the Russians. Goldfinger would have been warned - or his parents had smelled trouble and they had got him out in time. And what had happened then? How had he worked his way up to being one of the richest men in the world? One day it might be interesting to find out. For the time being it would be enough to find out how he won at cards.

    'All set?' Mr Du Pont called to Goldfinger who was coming across the roof towards the card table. With his clothes on - a comfortably fitting dark blue suit, a white shirt open at the neck - Goldfinger cut an almost passable figure.

    But there was no disguise for the great brown and red football of a head and the flesh-coloured hearing aid plugged into the left ear was net an improvement.
    Chapter Five - Night Duty
    'Well, you will by this afternoon. You've got an appointment with a man called Colonel Smithers at the Bank at four o'clock. That give you enough time to get some sleep?'

    'Yes, sir.'

    'Good. Seems that this man Smithers is head of the Bank's research department. From what the Governor told me, that's nothing more or less than a spy system. First time I knew they had one. Just shows what watertight compartments we all work in. Anyway, Smithers and his chaps keep an eye out for anything fishy in the banking world - particularly any monkeying about with our currency and bullion reserves and what not.
    There was that business the other day of the Italians who were counterfeiting sovereigns. Making them out of real gold. Right carats and all that. But apparently a sovereign or a French napoleon is worth much more than its melted-down value in gold. Don't ask me why.
    Smithers can tell you that if you're interested. Anyway, the Bank went after these people with a whole battery of lawyers-it wasn't technically a criminal offence - and, after losing in the Italian courts, they finally nailed them in Switzerland. You probably read about it. Then there was that business of dollar balances in Beirut. Made quite a stir in the papers. Couldn't understand it myself. Some crack in the fence we put round our currency. The wide City boys had found it. Well, it's Smithers's job to smell out that kind of racket. The reason the Governor told me all this is because for years, almost since the war apparently, Smithers has had a bee in his bonnet about some big gold leak out of England. Mostly deduction, plus some kind of instinct. Smithers admits he's got damned little to go on, but he's impressed the Governor enough for him to get permission from the PM to call us in.' M broke off. He looked quizzically at Bond. 'Ever wondered who are the richest men in England?'

    'No, sir.'

    "Well, have a guess. Or rather, put it like this: Who are the richest Englishmen?'
    Chapter Eleven - The Odd-Job Man
    'I don't myself drink or smoke, Mr Bond. Smoking, I find the most ridiculous of all the varieties of human behaviour and practically the only one that is entirely against nature. Can you imagine a cow or any animal taking a mouthful of smouldering straw then breathing in the smoke and blowing it out through its nostrils? Pah!' Goldfinger showed a rare trace of emotion. 'It is a/vile practice. As for drinking, I am something of a chemist and I have yet to find a liquor that is free from traces of a number of poisons, some of them deadly, such as fusel oil, acetic acid, ethylacetate, acetal-dehyde and furfurol. A quantity of some of these poisons taken neat would kill you. In the small amounts you find in a bottle of liquor they produce various ill effects most of which are lightly written off as "a hangover".' Goldfinger paused with a forkful of curried shrimp half way to his mouth.
    'Since you are a drinker, Mr Bond, I will give you one word of good advice. Never drink so-called Napoleon brandy, particularly when it is described as "aged in the wood". That particular potion contains more of the poisons I have mentioned than any other liquor I have analysed. Old bourbon comes next.'
    Goldfinger closed his animadversions with a mouthful of shrimp.

    'Thank you. I'll remember. Perhaps for those reasons I have recently taken to vodka. They tell me its filtration through activated charcoal is a help.' Bond, dredging this piece of expertise out of dim recollections of something he had read, was rather proud of having been able to return Goldfinger's powerful serve.

    Goldfinger glanced at him sharply. 'You seem to understand something of these matters. Have you studied chemistry?'

    'Only dabbled in it.' It was time to move on. 'I was very impressed by that chauffeur of yours. Where did he learn that fantastic combat stuff? Where did it come from? Is that what the Koreans use?'

    Goldfinger patted his mouth with his napkin. He snapped his fingers. The two men cleared away the plates and brought roast duckling and a bottle of Mouton Rothschild 1947 for Bond. When they had withdrawn into immobility at each end of the serving-table, Goldfinger said, 'Have you ever heard of Karate? No? Well that man is one of the three in the world who have achieved the Black Belt in Karate. Karate is a branch of judo, but it is to judo what a Spandau is to a catapult.'

    'I could see that.'

    'The demonstration was an elementary one. Mr Bond' -Goldfinger held up the drumstick he had been gnawing - 'I can tell you that if Oddjob had used the appropriate single blow on any one of seven spots on your body, you would,now be dead.' Goldfinger bit at the side of the drumstick with relish.

    Bond said seriously, 'That's interesting. I only know five ways of killing Oddjob with one blow.'

    Goldfinger seemed not to hear the comment. He put down his drumstick and took a deep draught of water. He sat back and spoke while Bond went on eating the excellent food. 'Karate, Mr Bond, is based on the theory that the human body possesses five striking surfaces and thirty-seven vulnerable spots - vulnerable, that is, to an expert in Karate whose finger-tips, the side of the hands and the feet are hardened into layers of corn, which is far stronger and more flexible than bone. Every day of his life, Mr Bond, Oddjob spends one hour hitting either sacks of unpolished rice or a strong post whose top is wound many times round with thick rope. He then spends another hour at physical training which is more that of a ballet school than of a gymnasium.'

    'When does he practise tossing the bowler hat?' Bond had no intention of succumbing to this psychological warfare.
    On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Ian Fleming, 1963.
    Chapter 23 - Gauloises and Garlic
    There was a stage-type Marseilles taxi-driver to meet Bond - the archetype of all Mariuses, with the face of a pirate and the razor-sharp badinage of the lower French music-halls. He was apparently known and enjoyed by everyone at the airport, and Bond was whisked through the formalities in a barrage of wisecracks about 'le milord anglais9, which made Marius, for his name turned out in fact to be Marius, the centre of attraction and Bond merely his butt, the dim-witted English tourist. But, once in the taxi, Marius made curt, friendly apologies over his shoulder. 'I ask your pardon for my bad manners.' His French had suddenly purified itself of all patois. It also smelt like acetylene gas.' I was told to extract you from the airport with the least possible limelight directed upon you. I know all those "flics" and douaniers. They all know me. If I had not been myself, the cab-driver they know as Marius, if I had shown deference, eyes, inquisitive eyes, would have been upon you, mon Commandant. I did what I thought best You forgive me?'

    'Of course I do, Marius. But you shouldn't have been so funny. You nearly made me laugh. That would have been fatal.'

    'You understand our talk here?'

    'Enough of it.'
    'So!' There was a pause. Then Marius said, 'Alas, since Waterloo, one can never underestimate the English.'
    Bond said, seriously, 'The same date applied to the French. It was a near thing.' This was getting too gallant. Bond said,

    'Now tell me, is the bouillabaisse chez Guido always as good?'
    The Man with the Golden Gun, Ian Fleming, 1965.
    Chapter 16 - The Wrap-up
    Talking starts with the stomach muscles. Bond's wounds were beginning to ache. He smiled, not showing the pain. Leiter was due to leave that afternoon. Bond didn't want to say goodbye to him.. Bond treasured his men friends and Felix Leiter was a great slice of his past. He said, "Scaramanga was quite a guy. He should have been taken alive. Maybe Tiffy really did put the hex on him with Mother Edna. They don't come like that often."
    Leiter was unsympathetic. "That's the way you limeys talk about Rommel and Donitz and Guderian. Let alone Napoleon. Once you've beaten them, you make heroes out of them. Don't make sense to me. In my book, an enemy's an enemy.
    Care to have Scaramanga back? Now, in this room, with his famous golden gun on you--the long one or the short one? Standing where I am? One bets you a thousand you wouldn't. Don't be a jerk, James. You did a good job. Pest control. It's got to be done by someone. Going back to it when you're off the orange juice?"

    Felix Leiter jeered at him. "Of course you are, lamebrain. It's what you were put into the world for. Pest control, like I said. All you got to figure is how to control it better. The pests'll always be there. God made dogs. He also made their fleas. Don't let it worry your tiny mind. Right?" Leiter had seen the sweat on James Bond's forehead. He limped towards the door and opened it. He raised a hand briefly. The two men had never shaken hands in their lives. Leiter looked into the corridor. He said, "Okay, Miss Goodnight. Tell matron to take him off the danger list. And tell him to keep away from me for a week or two. Every time I see him a piece of me gets broken off. I don't fancy myself as The Vanishing Man." Again he raised his only hand in Bond's direction and limped out.

    Bond shouted, "Wait, you bastard!" But, by the time Leiter had limped back into the room, Bond, no effort left in him to fire off the volley of four-letter words that were to be his only answer to his friend, had lapsed into unconsciousness.

    Mary Goodnight shooed the remorseful Leiter out of the room and ran off down the corridor to the floor sister.
    Thrilling Cities, Ian Fleming, 1963.
    Chapter II - Macao
    Gold, hand in hand with opium, plays an extraordinary secret role through the Far East, and Hong Kong and Macao, the tiny Portuguese possession only forty miles away, are the hub of the whole underground traffic.

    In England, except between bullion brokers, nobody ever talks about gold as a medium of exchange or as an important item among personal possessions.
    But from India eastwards gold is a constant topic of conversation, and the daily newspapers are never without their list of gold prices in bullion, English sovereigns, French Napoléons and louis d'or, and rarely a day goes by without there being a gold case in the Press.
    Someone has been caught smuggling gold. So-and-so has been murdered for his gold hoard. Someone else has been counterfeiting gold. The reason for this passionate awareness of the metal is the total mistrust all Orientals have for paper money and the profound belief that, without one's bar or beaten leaf of gold concealed somewhere on one's person or kept in a secret place at home, one is a poor man.

    The gold king of the Orient is the enigmatic Doctor Lobo of the Villa Verde in Macao. Irresistibly attracted, I gravitated towards him, the internal Geiger-counter of a writer of thrillers ticking furiously.
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