How 'patriotic' should James Bond (and Bond 26 beyond) be?

I've noticed this is something that's been discussed in the PTS thread. Perhaps it's the wrong topic for there, but I think the discussion itself is interesting, especially in terms of how it relates to a) the original Fleming source material b) what we've seen from the films in the past, and c) how this aspect of the character/series will be handled going forward. I think having a separate thread will allow for more general discussion without going fundamentally off topic.

My argument is that James Bond is what you'd call a patriotic character, and several of the films themselves have leaned onto very 'British' iconography. That said Bond isn't necessarily jingoistic either, and in the novels is not blind to the flaws of his country. He's often very cynical in a quite subversive way too, especially when it comes to Britain's role in the Cold War. He's also a very contradictory character in terms of English identity - he hates tea but also claims it was the 'downfall of the British empire', he's described as an Englishman and yet he's Scottish/Swiss, and we even have that passage in MR where it's explicitly stated he looks out of place amongst the London elites of Blades (despite his legitimate fascination with the history of the club). His patriotism is, however, entwined with his sense of duty and is more in an oath to protect his country which a big part of what drives him.

Of course in terms of the films this was something touched upon particularly in SF - that sense of duty towards his country. I think it updated these general aspects of Fleming's material well, while also featuring British iconography (the Tennyson poem, the little miniature Union Jack bulldog etc) in ways that weren't wholly dissimilar to, say, the Union Jack parachute in TSWLM.

For me, it'll also be interesting seeing how this will gel with a younger Bond (it seems to me that many younger Brits today have more cynicism towards some of the UK's more traditional institutions). So, in terms of patriotism, British identity etc. what do we expect to see (or indeed want to see) from the future version of Bond, and the future movies in the series?

Comments

  • sandbagger1sandbagger1 Sussex
    Posts: 828
    Honestly, I don’t need to see the Union Jack every film. We’re not a country where people display the flag like they do in the U.S.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 13,354
    As long as patriotic means non-partison and in spite of left and right, that's always worked fine for Bond.

  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited July 2023 Posts: 15,586
    I think the iconography of the Union Jack is great fun whenever it pops up, but when it does so it’s in a tongue-in-cheek, slightly ironic way: Bond doesn’t quite mean it sincerely. The Union Jack parachute is a gag. I don’t feel that Bond ever has a huge love of his country. He has a great sense of duty, yes; but that’s perhaps more to his superiors and colleagues, to what he’s sworn allegiance to personally. He’s a soldier, so he follows orders and supports his unit. He has a sense of loyalty, and morality. If the world needs saving he’ll do it because he knows it’s right, even if it means getting his hands dirty.
    But I don’t think he’s driven by a sense of patriotism to the U.K. He leaves it as often as possible, and we even see him retire to Jamaica, not the Cotswolds. And I think that’s something any of the screen Bonds would have done, the book one too.
  • Posts: 1,707
    I would like to see the films celebrate England more than they do. It doesn't have to be teary-eyed, sappy patriotism. It doesn't have to be tongue-in-cheek. It doesn't have to be a reminder that "We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven." Despite the fact that Bond doesn't have a huge love for his country, I'd like to think one could take pride in being English.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 13,354

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRomNKjdUSllb938UQRh5_tECKoxQLCBWI5W_31BQG7J-UIHXfc
    Casino Royale, Ian Fleming, 1953.
    Chapter 20 - The Nature of Evil
    'Now,' he looked up again at Mathis, 'that's all very fine. The hero kills two villains, but when the hero Le Chiffre starts to kill the villain Bond and the villain Bond knows he isn't a villain at all, you see the other side of the medal. The villains and heroes get all mixed up.

    'Of course,' he added, as Mathis started to expostulate, 'patriotism comes along and makes it seem fairly all right, but this country right or wrong business is getting a little out of date. Today we are fighting Communism. Okay. If I'd been alive fifty years ago, the brand of Conservatism we have today would have been damn near called Communism and we should have been told to go and fight that. History is moving pretty quickly these days and the heroes and villains keep on changing parts.'

    Mathis stared at him aghast. Then he tapped his head and put a calming hand on Bond's arm.
    CP5v.gif
  • edited July 2023 Posts: 3,367
    I always say that Bond's cynicism in the novels is actually pretty subversive when you read passages like that. I think it's one of the overlooked aspects of Fleming and isn't something any continuation author has properly handled. It is worth noting, however, that he always returns to the Service and reaffirms that sense of duty. But he's a very introspective character.
    mtm wrote: »
    I think the iconography of the Union Jack is great fun whenever it pops up, but when it does so it’s in a tongue-in-cheek, slightly ironic way: Bond doesn’t quite mean it sincerely. The Union Jack parachute is a gag. I don’t feel that Bond ever has a huge love of his country. He has a great sense of duty, yes; but that’s perhaps more to his superiors and colleagues, to what he’s sworn allegiance to personally. He’s a soldier, so he follows orders and supports his unit. He has a sense of loyalty, and morality. If the world needs saving he’ll do it because he knows it’s right, even if it means getting his hands dirty.
    But I don’t think he’s driven by a sense of patriotism to the U.K. He leaves it as often as possible, and we even see him retire to Jamaica, not the Cotswolds. And I think that’s something any of the screen Bonds would have done, the book one too.

    I wouldn't necessarily say the Union Jack parachute in TSWLM is a gag as such. It's slightly tongue in cheek, but I'd say that the reaction to it at the time (audiences cheering and all that) was at least sincere, and they were going for that sort of response.

    I'd also say Bond doesn't always have a lot of love for his colleagues or superiors, so I don't think that's necessarily where his loyalty or sense of duty lies. In all versions he tends to respect M of course, but the Craig era often had Bond going against official orders to get the job done, there were characters like C who were outright villains, albeit members of MI6's elite, and even by NTTD Mallory's M seemed very much at fault for the Heracles programme. Even in the novels you had characters like Saunders or Head of Stations who were antagonistic twits whom Bond had little time for. Even in terms of morality he's not necessarily consistent (he dislikes killing in cold blood, which is very human, but accepts that killing and 'dirty work' is simply a part of his job). There were times in the books where he even disagreed with the jobs he was supposed to do, or at least had a cynicism towards it, but did it anyway (ie. killing for M in FYEO, calling prohibition the trigger of crime during the GF opening). It's more a thing of the novels perhaps, but it's not always a case where he has to save the world too, and often his missions are purely in the interests of the UK. I think there's a side of Bond that has that blunt instrument mentality, but I think there's also something deeper that drives him in this aspect - a sort of 'it's not a perfect country, but ultimately it's worth saving' mentality. Not dissimilar to, say, Batman's loyalty to Gotham City despite its corruption.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited July 2023 Posts: 15,586
    007HallY wrote: »
    I wouldn't necessarily say the Union Jack parachute in TSWLM is a gag as such. It's slightly tongue in cheek, but I'd say that the reaction to it at the time (audiences cheering and all that) was at least sincere, and they were going for that sort of response.

    Yeah it's complicated. If it were an American film and it was the stars and stripes, it would be entirely sincere (unless it's Team America or something). But here, with the Union Jack, it's both sincere and slightly mocking of that kind of patriotism. Obviously a British spy wouldn't actually do that, so it's a gag on that level; but I think there is a gentle mocking of Bond being a British superhero too and those kinds of overt expressions of patriotism. Not in a nasty way at all, but this is when you'd see jokey things like union jack boxer shorts or waistcoats in the Goodies and stuff- it wasn't uncommon to laugh at this sort of thing.
    007HallY wrote: »
    I'd also say Bond doesn't always have a lot of love for his colleagues or superiors, so I don't think that's necessarily where his loyalty or sense of duty lies.

    But as I say, he's a soldier- he doesn't have to love his superiors to respect them and follow their orders, because of his sense of duty. In that way I'd say LTK got Bond more wrong than the Craig films did. No matter how much he argued with DenchM, he always had a strong sense of duty to her. QoS is probably the best example of this, where she thinks he's gone rogue but he's actually doing his job for her (in that film he's actually only 'rogue' for less than a minute, where he disarms all the MI6 guys in the hotel lift), and when she finally realises this it's much more satisfying than anything involving their relationship in LTK, and it feels like they've entirely understood Bond.
    007HallY wrote: »
    Even in terms of morality he's not necessarily consistent (he dislikes killing in cold blood, which is very human, but accepts that killing and 'dirty work' is simply a part of his job). It's more a thing of the novels perhaps, but it's not always a case where he has to save the world too, and often his missions are purely in the interests of the UK. So I think there's something deeper that drives him in this aspect - a sort of 'it's not a perfect country, but ultimately it's worth saving' mentality. Not dissimilar to, say, Batman's loyalty to Gotham City despite its corruption.

    Well I think that morality contradiction is an 'ends justifies the means' thing: he knows what he does is unpleasant, but he also knows he's doing it for the right reasons. NTTD is kind of interesting, because there we see him working against M briefly (who is no longer his commanding officer, so the sense of duty has wained) because M has apparently done something not for the right reasons. Bond's morality easily overwhelms any sense of patriotism he may have, because he knows that HMG has done wrong.
  • peterpeter Toronto
    Posts: 9,048
    NTTD is kind of interesting, because there we see him working against M briefly (who is no longer his commanding officer, so the sense of duty has wained) because M has apparently done something not for the right reasons. Bond's morality easily overwhelms any sense of patriotism he may have, because he knows that HMG has done wrong.

    I love this… Bond is the reluctant hero being called into battle one more time… I love how there’s a little tut, or something, when he dials Felix (after speaking with Mallory (“darling”)), to tell him that he’s “in”…. No sense of patriotism there, just his morality, like a tide, pulling him back to action…. James Bond can’t remain deaf to his moral compass….
  • edited July 2023 Posts: 3,367
    mtm wrote: »
    007HallY wrote: »
    I wouldn't necessarily say the Union Jack parachute in TSWLM is a gag as such. It's slightly tongue in cheek, but I'd say that the reaction to it at the time (audiences cheering and all that) was at least sincere, and they were going for that sort of response.

    Yeah it's complicated. If it were an American film and it was the stars and stripes, it would be entirely sincere (unless it's Team America or something). But here, with the Union Jack, it's both sincere and slightly mocking of that kind of patriotism. Obviously a British spy wouldn't actually do that, so it's a gag on that level; but I think there is a gentle mocking of Bond being a British superhero too and those kinds of overt expressions of patriotism. Not in a nasty way at all, but this is when you'd see jokey things like union jack boxer shorts or waistcoats in the Goodies and stuff- it wasn't uncommon to laugh at this sort of thing.

    I get what you mean. It's a tongue in cheek moment which the Bond film series tends to play. It's not a fully serious scenario (it's actually quite ridiculous when you think about it) but I think there's a sincerity there too in terms of the 'crowd cheering' reaction they were going for.

    SF is the film which I guess used that sort of 'British' imagery in the most sincere way.
    mtm wrote: »
    007HallY wrote: »
    I'd also say Bond doesn't always have a lot of love for his colleagues or superiors, so I don't think that's necessarily where his loyalty or sense of duty lies.

    But as I say, he's a soldier- he doesn't have to love his superiors to respect them and follow their orders, because of his sense of duty. In that way I'd say LTK got Bond more wrong than the Craig films did. No matter how much he argued with DenchM, he always had a strong sense of duty to her. QoS is probably the best example of this, where she thinks he's gone rogue but he's actually doing his job for her (in that film he's actually only 'rogue' for less than a minute, where he disarms all the MI6 guys in the hotel lift), and when she finally realises this it's much more satisfying than anything involving their relationship in LTK, and it feels like they've entirely understood Bond.

    I'd agree about LTK and QOS in the sense that the latter depicts Bond going 'against orders' better.

    I suppose it's worth saying though that even soldiers swear allegiance to the Crown/their country, and it's a big part of why (at least from my second hand experience) they get into that line of work. And beyond M Bond doesn't necessarily even always respect his superiors.
    mtm wrote: »
    007HallY wrote: »
    Even in terms of morality he's not necessarily consistent (he dislikes killing in cold blood, which is very human, but accepts that killing and 'dirty work' is simply a part of his job). It's more a thing of the novels perhaps, but it's not always a case where he has to save the world too, and often his missions are purely in the interests of the UK. So I think there's something deeper that drives him in this aspect - a sort of 'it's not a perfect country, but ultimately it's worth saving' mentality. Not dissimilar to, say, Batman's loyalty to Gotham City despite its corruption.

    Well I think that morality contradiction is an 'ends justifies the means' thing: he knows what he does is unpleasant, but he also knows he's doing it for the right reasons. NTTD is kind of interesting, because there we see him working against M briefly (who is no longer his commanding officer, so the sense of duty has wained) because M has apparently done something not for the right reasons. Bond's morality easily overwhelms any sense of patriotism he may have, because he knows that HMG has done wrong.

    Ultimately it depends on which film version of Bond you're talking about, or if even if you're talking about the literary Bond as there can be some subtle differences. I do think Bond in all versions has a sense of morality though, as all heroes really should do fundamentally.

    I suppose to me it's interesting just how much Bond justifies what he does through protecting his country, and often it'll be one of the main things to separate Bond from some of the villains. In TMWTGG he says he only kills for 'Queen and Country', and in SF there's little reason for him to go back to the Service apart from MI6 being bombed (it's worth noting I don't think he even goes back because of M really - it's clear he's a bit bitter towards her at this point in the movie). Scaramanaga isn't a million miles away from Bond, but he works for money and his ego, not for any higher purpose. Silva is basically a mirror image of Bond in some unsettling ways (neither are actually English, both were M's agents, both were sent on missions by her which went wrong/resulted in their injuries etc.) but while Silva becomes consumed by anarchy and a need for revenge, Bond ultimately does his duty for that higher purpose and one could say forgives M by the end of the film. There's of course the traditional way that villains tend to undermine Bond - ie. Travelyan calling him 'Her Majesty's Loyal terrier', with GE being another example of Bond having that fundamental sense of duty towards protecting his country that the villain doesn't have, even if they're otherwise similar. In that sense I think it's the case that a big part of Bond's morality and why he does his job is wrapped up in protecting his country.

    It's actually one of the things I thought was missing from NTTD and might have added a bit more to the film/Bond's reasoning of going back. I understand it's a bit difficult given the type of film they wanted to make. It's a much more personal film in many ways, and obviously the main plot involves a world threat rather than something like SF which is simply about MI6 being compromised (which I think is a bit more interesting in how it tests Bond as a character/his morality).
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 15,586
    Excellent post.

    It's funny you bring up TMWTGG, as I think it's the only film where Bond's moral compass is off. Not only does he go around torturing women, trying to sleep with them in a rather sleazy way, and making them listen to him shagging other women; but his whole job in that film is purely industrial espionage- to steal a private citizen's (who is a murderer, granted) product which he is trying to market, and to take it for HM Govt. The film doesn't deal with that of course because it's not very self-aware, but it's a slightly grubby story.
  • edited July 2023 Posts: 3,367
    mtm wrote: »
    Excellent post.

    It's funny you bring up TMWTGG, as I think it's the only film where Bond's moral compass is off. Not only does he go around torturing women, trying to sleep with them in a rather sleazy way, and making them listen to him shagging other women; but his whole job in that film is purely industrial espionage- to steal a private citizen's (who is a murderer, granted) product which he is trying to market, and to take it for HM Govt. The film doesn't deal with that of course because it's not very self-aware, but it's a slightly grubby story.

    Yes, it's a great scene between Bond and Scaramanga. It's a shame that it happens to be in such a weird Bond movie, haha!

    Obviously we've had variations on that kind of confrontation (again, Travelyan and Bond in GE, Silva and Bond in SF) in which Bond's loyalty to his country is questioned by the villain. For me, I'd like to see this side of Bond explored in the next one, and it might not be out of the realm of plausibility given what other franchises have done recently. They could even adapt some ideas from TMWTGG. You could have a Scaramanga-esque assassin who may be killing off, say, corrupt agents or government officials for money. You could contrast that with Bond being shown at some point in the film having to assassinate someone who, while perhaps has committed some sort of wrong against MI6, is in some way seen as sympathetic by the audience (I dunno, maybe this person has sold off MI6 secrets in order to provide money for their family or something). Then when you have that Bond/villain confrontation about loyalty to His Majesty etc. there'd be much more conflict for Bond in the sense that his duty towards MI6 isn't necessarily for a fundamental good. So he'd have to negotiate how his sense of loyalty to his country works alongside his sense of morality.
  • SIS_HQSIS_HQ At the Vauxhall Headquarters
    edited July 2023 Posts: 3,451
    It's a shame, Bond's morality towards his country or his duty was brought up in SPECTRE, about that C/Max Denbigh subplot.

    I just think there should be a confrontation between Bond and Max Denbigh in the third act, with Denbigh confronting Bond about his loyalty.

    I think another thing that brought this up were the Brosnan Bond films:
    Trevelyan: For England, James?
    Bond: No, for me

    And to think that he's dealing with a corrupt MI6 agent (I also assume that Trevelyan's British).
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 13,354
    As shown by Bond, duty doesn't mean blindly following orders. His usefulness is that beyond the rules and rulemakers, even M him- or herself, he can act in his country's best interests.

    And yes one the best 007-villain dynamics is the bad guy insulting the UK or the British Empire and getting a rise out of Bond. Who eventually stops up the works on the latest caper.

  • M_BaljeM_Balje Amsterdam, Netherlands
    edited August 2023 Posts: 4,486
    360_F_413296478_hZg0Q9OUlSwI7l1eg0foBNrNDjgrSErz.jpg





    0c6352ed-9df3-4455-8017-e665f5fe1393.jpg



    Die-Another-Day-0915.jpg

    analog-wall-clock-displaying-02-24.jpg



    9976_wereldburger.jpg
    Bom appetit!

    64195-James%20Bond%20met%20Heineken%2000.jpg





    Skyfall-0048.jpg

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQkpO09DxgijB3VtOeR5m3mDwAunuSZHaciNbJS72HNoTMFWbiU8XgmFj0XIqSNpeu2K6M&usqp=CAU

    17-years-ago-a-legend-was-born.png



    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ4CKPFrtfXgT_s5c0almvecceNOkCQcnPBLg&usqp=CAU


    3a368280e8f8e546a2bf8f8b019da9cf53e7c1d2.gif

    Clock_TAG.jpeg

    youll-never-see-me-again-daniel-craig.gifimages?q=tbn:ANd9GcR6xmSMNzmGzJIl3xpjB9lgKdnKLioAZs5ASQ&usqp=CAU

    Spectre-0001.jpg



    360_F_485390536_irxNOBZVYSQqHGPZk0MoQe9JYDxPgtdN.jpg

    2474241.jpg

    hpatsc-sh01.jpg?width=1200&height=1200&fit=crop

    dream-house0021.jpg

    8a588eafa30c148ab9d00495174224e5.jpg

    dream-house-2011-daniel-craig-rachel-weisz.jpg

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSABroK3dlP8MfUMDiLC5XAD9gfZAk4sOu1LkafPG6TLPhJEjXgp3Aiw2JJjxxrCKghTVE&usqp=CAU

    den_haag_waalsdorpervlakte_birthe_kulik_01-3840x1060.jpg

    6h1z.gif



    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS5bXEXr4lwgNO8b8hjBY2ZmU3u5Pu66-eSoA&usqp=CAUimages?q=tbn:ANd9GcT2PyazVOVcozEW1KzpVJLpwQLd3R98bctKQA&usqp=CAU

    MV5BN2U3ZWViN2QtNDI3ZC00M2RlLThhZjktOGE3OTEyZWM1NmI3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzk3NDUzNTc@._V1_.jpg



    The-Greene-Dynasty.jpg

    1118full-traffic-screenshot.jpg

    lees-hier-hoe-de-nationale-dodenherdenking-verliep.jpg

    batman-begins-batman-49436_1600_1200.jpg

    Wheres-Berlins-City-Center.jpg

    beautiful-buenos-aires-wallpaper-1.jpg



    2475443.jpg
    James Bond Will Return...

    14815054-3d-personen-mens-persoon-met-verrekijker.jpg?ver=6
    But sometimes you need a litle bit of help of a friend..

    klok-op-muur-117798793.jpgklok-op-muur-117798793.jpg

    young-english-student-girl-with-british-flag-adjusting-glasses_357704-1602.jpg

    180620-what-noone-says-about-paris-01.jpg?quality=75&strip=all&w=744



    BRUCE_ALM3GHTYavi64.jpg

    The-Futz-Butler-IKEA-Lion-Man-3-social_image.jpg

    8-1.jpg-1600x900.jpg

    100621_la_drone_shotofwarnerbrothersstudiosap_10062021
  • Posts: 1,707
    As shown by Bond, duty doesn't mean blindly following orders. His usefulness is that beyond the rules and rulemakers, even M him- or herself, he can act in his country's best interests.

    And yes one the best 007-villain dynamics is the bad guy insulting the UK or the British Empire and getting a rise out of Bond. Who eventually stops up the works on the latest caper.

    I like this. Bond's patriotism doesn't need to be overt. Whether he prefers living elsewhere or not, I like to think being English means something to him and is worth defending.


  • Posts: 6,687
    Short answer: Patriotism, yes, right wing conservatist nationalism, no.
Sign In or Register to comment.