Should James Bond be a modern man?

24

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  • They should re-use the Beatles line from ''Goldfinger'', only replace it with, "That's worse than hearing One Direction without earmuffs!" :))
  • doubleoegodoubleoego #LightWork
    Posts: 11,135
    I think that the original question tries to force a black or white view on something that can be more nuanced.

    But first a little background. When I first saw the Bond films (Connery's on TV) I was a 12 year old, scrawny, nerdy kid. I was picked on and every time that I tried to play sports (the easiest way to try to get "in" with other boys) I failed spectacularly. As someone mentioned in another thread as a 12 year old you feel powerless enough already, and that can be even more so depending on your place in the social hierarchy.

    So at that time of my life a hero that was completely infallible, was AWESOME at everything he did - even things he tried for the first time! - who knew everything about everything, who was always composed, and who could get any girl just by looking at her...well, that was the ultimate dream and wish fulfillment. Really, it was only one step away from Fonzie in Happy Days who would literally snap his fingers and every girl in the room would come running.

    But then I got older and gained life experience.

    I realized that trying to talk to girls like Bond did made them think I was a weird, creepy loser. I would get frustrated trying to do things that I didn't master the first time that I tried them. And I found that talking about things with a level of expertise made me sound pretentious and arrogant rather than cool and smart. So I felt a little "cheated" about these kind of role models in my life (Bond, Fonzie, Captain Kirk).

    So as I gained life experience I found that the key was effort. If you have to make a bit of effort at something then it's earned, which makes it more satisfying. I feel the same way about characters in films. If Moore raises an eyebrow at a girl and she falls into his arms it's meaningless. But if Bond has to flirt with her, earn her admiration, and ends up with her later then it's more meaningful. If Bond beats up a dozen henchmen effortlessly it's meaningless. If Bond is bruised and bloody (say, at the end of LTK or after the stairwell fight in CR) then it makes his victory even more impressive.

    Which doesn't negate the wish fulfillment aspect of Bond. Does anyone really think that the construction site chase in CR or the SF PTS tearing the train apart are too "real"? We're still seeing Bond do incredible feats, it's just that this is a Bond who draws upon inner resources, strength of will, training, and modern day military fitness to do these things. If he expresses a bit of doubt, or emotions, does that negate that he's exceptionally cool or manly? Of course not. Someone said in another thread that Craig's Bond isn't macho or manly because he shows emotions and has doubts. Seriously? To me it makes him even MORE manly because he pushes past those things to achieve his objectives. If someone thinks that Craig's Bond is "emo" and not a man then they have a radically different idea of "emo" than what it really is. And I dare them to meet Craig's Bond in a dark alley and tell them that he isn't macho and is a "Mother's boy" ;-)

    Look, I get that we all have bad times in our adult lives that make us like the idea of a super hero instead of a hero. But I feel that a hero can still be a human being and still be a wish fulfillment figure. In fact, even more so than a superhero.

    Well said and to touch on your last point, it's one of the very reasons why the likes of spider-man and Batman are more popular than superman, or why many other superheroes are popular than superman.
    The key driving force behind spider-man's popularity and uniqueness in comicdom and why he's Marvel's flagship character is because of his all too human element and human issues that he goes through. Spider-Man is primarily all about the struggles and the jugglings of Peter Parker and that was revolutionary back in Amazing Fantasy #15 1962. But with batman, his awesomeness derives from the fact that in a world full of super powered individuals he's a top tier hero with no super powers at all.
  • doubleoegodoubleoego #LightWork
    Posts: 11,135
    doubleoego wrote:
    Bond has always been a contemporary character. That is a fact, so yes, he should obviously move with the times, within reason. For instance, I wasn't a big fan of the high tech, star fleet-esque MI6 in QoS so I'm glad they scaled back and went back to using a classic look for MI6 in SF.

    As for the character of Bond himself, Craig is doing a marvelous job in conveying the character in such a way that even though he's bringing new dimensions and facets, it still feels very familiar. In short, Craig is adding depth and a nuanced performance to a character that a lesser actor could easily convey as either seeming antiquated or pastiche to the audience.

    Craig's Bond is still fantasy and that's something Bond will always be but the level of fantasy is scaled down a bit to a more believable interpretation where, the genre in which Bond belongs requires a level of credibility to suit the harsh and unpredictable times we live in today. However, that's not to say the Bond movies are and should be joyless, bleak and gritty pictures. Far from. The Bond movies are still fun, exciting and pure escapism but it has a more realistic approach in it's overall execution, that rids itself of the cartoon-like stigma that the series had acquired particularly during the Moore and Brosnan eras. I feel and enjoy Craig's approach as a man who kills, who sheds blood, who fails, who shows his determination, making his triumphs all the more satisfying.
    Nicely stated!

    Thank you.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Moderator
    Posts: 13,105
    dchantry wrote:
    Do you mean, going to Asda on a Friay to buy his 24 cans of carling and then to the footie on a Saturday, Sunday he'd be player manager of the local football team, then back to MI6 on a Monday.
    Hm, not sure I really want my Bond in the real world, its oh so boring here Margo!

    Carling? Bond is a Heineken man, now. ;)
  • Carling? Bond is a Heineken man, now. ;)
    Least it beats when he was drinking Miller High Life.

  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,289
    Zekidk wrote:
    Nice story and don't we all have our childhood heroes? Besides James Bond, one of mine was Tarzan. But I never tried jumping from tree to tree :-)
    I did, when I was seven. Came close to breaking my neck.
    I blame Ron Ely.
    :))
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,651
    Oy, here we go again.

    I don't know why people think Bond doesn't/hasn't moved with the times. We have seen him reflected against the tyranny of the evil Russians and SPECTRE in his origin, and since then he has evolved many times, hardly staying exactly the same for long. I for one am all for a three dimensional Bond, and it has hardly ever been better than right now. We finally have a film that goes into his backstory, but only a little. It teases, and never lets you know too much or too small an amount, but just right. Bond should in fact feel pain, show how he feels, and act realistically to the challenges set before him. He is now much more in tone with the times now than ever as well. He can't do everything alone, he is just one man. He has a healthy reliance on his MI6 colleagues to assist him whenever it is crucial. Moreover, this Bond can mess up. I too love that about him. A hero that has no flaws and never fails is not only a sorry excuse for a character, but also lacks any interesting qualities or traits that make him relatable and therefore, memorable. Dan has brought back some great cornerstones to the role that have at times been lost. He can joke, but it is never too much, and he balances it well. He looks confident in every room he walks into, looking perfect in his suits and every ounce of the immaculate cultivation of a cool, calm, and collected Bond with inspiration straight from the Connery blueprint. He can switch between forcefulness and elegance in seconds. When he feels pain either physically or emotionally, that is transmitted by Dan's wonderful mannerisms that make it so easy to see what is happening in his head. And as we have seen in Skyfall, we have a Bond moving against the times. He is an outdated agent in a world of signal intelligence, and MI6 is at the point of considering just how valuable human agents are when things can get so tangled as we see them get in the film. Not only with mis-steps, but with defections and the lot. At this point we see Bond doing what he does best. Progressing no matter what is going on around him. The very Bond series that he is the central figure of have done the same, through bankruptcies, lawsuits, re-castings and strikes. The Bond journey on screen has now matched that of the franchise's fight for survival in our world, outside of the fictional tales Fleming helped spawn. And THAT is truly a wonderful thing. No matter how big the risk and no matter how insuperable the task, always bet on Bond. He may be beat (both on and off screen), but he never stays down for long, and that is what keeps me and millions of other fellow Bond fanatics coming again and again.

    Thanks for everything, James. :)>-
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,289
    he never stays down for long, and that is what keeps me and millions of other fellow Bond fanatics coming again and again.
    Well put.
    But we need to follow his example more....
  • edited December 2012 Posts: 3,063
    @0BradyM0Bondfanatic7
    Okay. So you want a Bond who shows his feelings, doesn't work alone, acts realistically and messes up. I respect that.

    But that almost sounds like an ordinary guy to me. For me, Bond is special. I want my heroes to be more amazing than that.

    When you say that a hero that shows no flaws is a "sorry excuse for a character and is not memorable" I wonder if you like the old Bond-movies at all? I honestly can't remember Sean Connery, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan, showing that many flaws, but feel free to refresh my memory.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,289
    Zekidk wrote:
    I honestly can't remember Sean Connery, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan, showing that many flaws, but feel free to refresh my memory.

    Oh, you must be well under thirty... :))
  • edited December 2012 Posts: 3,063
    @chrisisall
    At least I'm old enough not to make this discussion personal ;-)
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,289
    Zekidk wrote:
    @chrisisall
    At least I'm old enough not to make this discussion personal ;-)
    Just saying that I was where you are once, and the flaws in Bond's character, no matter the actor of film, were not as apparent to me as when I got older and recognized them. No personal slam intended, my friend!
  • edited December 2012 Posts: 3,063
    Look forward to your examples. Maybe we just don't share the same definition about "being flawed."

    You can start by picking examples from the first three.

    "No matter the actor or film", right?
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,289
    Zekidk wrote:
    Maybe we just don't share the same definition about "being flawed."
    That's possible.
    Flawed in my book means essentially unhappy, which I take it Bond is most of the time. Which makes him no different from US how? That is what Fleming intended IMO- a man with unusual skills, not so different from the rest of us.
  • edited December 2012 Posts: 3,063
    So that's your case? I "must be under 30" because I don't view the old Bond as unhappy?

    And I honestly don't care what "Fleming intended" in his more than 50 year old cold-war novels. I grew up on the movies.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,289
    Zekidk wrote:
    So that's your case? I "must be under 30" because I don't view the old Bond as unhappy?
    You know, I was just responding to your 'first three' challenge when I saw this.
    Now I'll say you will grow up some day. In the mean time you will enjoy the Bond movies as you like.
    Be well.
  • Posts: 3,063
    chrisisall wrote:
    Now I'll say you will grow up some day.
    You failed to answer my question. Grown-ups usually do!
  • MurdockMurdock Mr. 2000
    Posts: 16,184
    If you don't care about Flemings Bond, then James Bond wouldn't exist.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,651
    Zekidk wrote:
    @0BradyM0Bondfanatic7
    Okay. So you want a Bond who shows his feelings, doesn't work alone, acts realistically and messes up. I respect that.

    But that almost sounds like an ordinary guy to me. For me, Bond is special. I want my heroes to be more amazing than that.

    When you say that a hero that shows no flaws is a "sorry excuse for a character and is not memorable" I wonder if you like the old Bond-movies at all? I honestly can't remember Sean Connery, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan, showing that many flaws, but feel free to refresh my memory.
    Connery's Bond is my favorite, and he had plenty of missteps. In just DN and GF alone he is in the clutches of the villain (the latter far more for some peoples' tastes). Connery's Bond messes up, and that can cost him lives. His mixing with Jill ended with her death, and you can truly feel his sadness and guilt at Kerim and Quarrel's deaths to the point that he vows vengeance. He acts realistically in wonderful moments like in DN and FRWL where he checks his hotels for bugs. I loved that detective aspect Sean's Bond had, and I miss scenes that show Bond doing that kind of stuff. Connery's Bond had it all. He could be so cold, yet so suave and in control of every situation even when things are going 7 ways from Sunday on him. He feels great remorse for the deaths that stem from his connections to people. I mean hell, M told him he would take him off Goldfinger's case if Bond couldn't let his vengeance side go for Oddjob's slaying of Jill. And as I noted with Quarrel and Kerim, he truly valued his allies and acted realistically with a deep sense of loss at their downfalls. And Connery's Bond also showed vulnerability. He seems almost in panic while strapped to Goldfinger's table, the laser coming closer and closer. The sheer terror on Bond's face is unmistakable. And in FRWL where he is as close as he has come in ever of being killed. He truly is without help there until he is able to outsmart Grant and regain the fair advantage. And his Bond was never a superhero, and I don't understand why people say that. His Bond was real and in control (DAF can toss off for all I am concerned). Simply put, Sean's Bond in DN, FRWL, GF and TB was the perfect mixing of an unforgiving, suave, confident, mournful and caring man who is the Bond all Bond actors should hope to be. Dan has brought that back in his era, and that is why he is firmly planted at #2.
  • edited December 2012 Posts: 3,063
    @0BradyM0Bondfanatic7
    I don't think missteps and poor judgment calls (everyone makes them once in a while) equals a flawed character (not everyone has a flawed character), which was what I thought you meant.
    Connery's Bond had it all. He could be so cold, yet so suave and in control of every situation even when things are going 7 ways from Sunday on him. (...) Dan has brought that back in his era, and that is why he is firmly planted at #2.
    But he didn't "control every situation" in SF. Quite the opposite in fact. Guess he still has something to learn.

    But I really like your definition of Connery's Bond, which I very much agree with.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,651
    Zekidk wrote:
    @0BradyM0Bondfanatic7
    I don't think missteps and poor judgment calls (everyone makes them once in a while) equals a flawed character (not everyone has a flawed character), which was what I thought you meant.
    Connery's Bond had it all. He could be so cold, yet so suave and in control of every situation even when things are going 7 ways from Sunday on him. (...) Dan has brought that back in his era, and that is why he is firmly planted at #2.
    But he didn't "control every situation" in SF. Quite the opposite in fact. Guess he still has something to learn.

    But I really like your definition of Connery's Bond, which I very much agree with.

    Making bad mistakes are flaws. :-/ By being in control, I mean Bond doesn't lose his head, and at the end of it all he gets the baddie because of his knack for thriving under danger.
  • doubleonothingdoubleonothing Los Angeles Moderator
    Posts: 864
    Bond is and always has been a modern man with flaws.
    Sure, he's conservative and traditional and patriotic at times, but mostly he is anachronistic.
    He is a British man who doesn't like tea, wears only slip on shoes, wears short sleeve shirts under his suit, is tanned when all around him are pale. He likes "exotic" foods and drinks. He is at one very British, but also completely out of step with his times.
    In the films, this is even more evident. He behaves as a man who has total sexual liberation, has complete aloof detachment from all around him, bar perhaps M, and utilises only the most modern of cars and gadgetry.
    Should Bond be a modern man? Of course he should. He always has been. And I'm not sure how having flaws (which he demonstrates throughout the novels) is a particularly "modern" characteristic.
  • edited December 2012 Posts: 129
    Zekidk wrote:
    @0BradyM0Bondfanatic7
    I don't think missteps and poor judgment calls (everyone makes them once in a while) equals a flawed character (not everyone has a flawed character), which was what I thought you meant.
    Connery's Bond had it all. He could be so cold, yet so suave and in control of every situation even when things are going 7 ways from Sunday on him. (...) Dan has brought that back in his era, and that is why he is firmly planted at #2.
    But he didn't "control every situation" in SF. Quite the opposite in fact. Guess he still has something to learn.

    But I really like your definition of Connery's Bond, which I very much agree with.

    Making bad mistakes are flaws. :-/ By being in control, I mean Bond doesn't lose his head, and at the end of it all he gets the baddie because of his knack for thriving under danger.

    Bond to me is a flawed character but in a good way, he doesn't follow the crowd, he's not PC, he confronts where doctrine says to be meek, he make's mistakes, but he learns from them & comes back stronger, he doesn't live by other's rules, he has his own moral code that he stringently adheres too, I think he is a modern man, a true English Gentleman.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,289
    Zekidk wrote:
    You failed to answer my question.
    Connery, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan's Bonds were (to different degrees with each actor) overconfident, misogynistic, violent, moody, defiant, flippant, borderline alcoholic arrested adolescents. Seems kinda flawed a bit to me...
  • Zekidk wrote:
    And I honestly don't care what "Fleming intended" in his more than 50 year old cold-war novels. I grew up on the movies.

    Fair enough, each to his own I suppose. But a lot of other people do care about the character Fleming created.

    Although the books are indeed over 50 years old, the character of Bond is nevertheless a human, with flaws and qualities that we can all identify with - he feels pain, doubt, moments of weakness, regret, genuine remorse even, on occasion - and crucially, he makes mistakes. It is these universal elements of the character - which, lets not forget made Bond popular before the films were even dreamed of - that are still as relevant to audiences today as ever.

    Kingsley Amis wrote in his excellent 'James Bond Dossier' that the Bond of the books was at heart a dark, brooding Byron-esque figure, a man already out of his time, made accessible for 'modern' readers by being dressed-up in the glamorous persona of a secret agent.

    The modern film incarnation is, IMO, the same. As depicted in Skyfall, Bond is a glorious anachronism, a brooding, sulking musket in an age of missiles. Yet, by displaying the very qualities that Fleming originally invested the character with - most notably, a dogged refusal to lie down and accept defeat - he is someone we can all still relate to, admire and aspire to be.

    So, while the Bond of the movies may exist in a world of cutting-edge modernity, the character himself is timeless - and long may he continue to be.
  • Posts: 3,063
    Although the books are indeed over 50 years old, the character of Bond is nevertheless a human, with flaws and qualities that we can all identify with .
    Personally, I don't need to be able to "identify" with him what so ever. Like I said: for me he is a larger-than-life character, able to do stuff that no ordinary fellow can.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,289

    Kingsley Amis wrote in his excellent 'James Bond Dossier' that the Bond of the books was at heart a dark, brooding Byron-esque figure, a man already out of his time, made accessible for 'modern' readers by being dressed-up in the glamorous persona of a secret agent.

    Perfect. No wonder why I enjoyed Colonel Sun so much.
  • Zekidk wrote:
    Although the books are indeed over 50 years old, the character of Bond is nevertheless a human, with flaws and qualities that we can all identify with .
    Personally, I don't need to be able to "identify" with him what so ever. Like I said: for me he is a larger-than-life character, able to do stuff that no ordinary fellow can.

    To me this describes Craig's Bond perfectly. How many ordinary men could leap from crane to crane in CR and make it look believable, then look completely credible eating caviar in an elegant casino? Or storm into an embassy on his own and single-handedly capture his man? How many of us would be able to maintain the stubborn, never-quit attitude that Bond has when Le Chiffre is torturing him? Be able to pilot a DC3 let alone triumph in a dogfight against 2 fighter jets? Beat up 3 MI6 agents with our hands tied behind our backs and then casually run on the outside of a terraced hall to confront our boss instead of running away first? Tear the train apart (and then adjust our cufflinks!) like in SF?

    And all of this PLUS a three dimensional character? That's even MORE impressive than just being the SuperBond of old IMHO. Larger than life and three dimensional are not mutually exclusive.


  • edited December 2012 Posts: 42
    Zekidk wrote:
    Personally, I don't need to be able to "identify" with him what so ever. Like I said: for me he is a larger-than-life character, able to do stuff that no ordinary fellow can.
    and
    Zekidk wrote:
    Easier to relate to? I don't find that to be a good thing. For me, he should be this larger-than-life character, who NicNac described perfectly.

    Look, I enjoy all the Bond movies - not equally, obviously, but I still have a lot of time for the 'weaker' entries in the series. However, I am at a stage in my life where I have no real interest in watching - as @NicNac puts it - 'an indestructible creature' who is able to 'run, jump, shoot, ski, surf, drive, fly and parachute better than anyone else'.

    I prefer a bit more depth of characterisation, and yes, an ability to identify with the hero. That doesn't mean I can do what he does - far from it, unfortuantely - but it means that I can relate to him and as a result care if he succeeds in his mission or not.

    The Bond of the novels could do all the above things (i.e, running, shooting, driving, skiing) to an exceptionally high-level; crucially, though, he had to work hard to achieve those skills, and was never the best in the world at any of those pursuits. This kept the character grounded, and importantly human as opposed to superhuman.
    To me this describes Craig's Bond perfectly. How many ordinary men could leap from crane to crane in CR and make it look believable, then look completely credible eating caviar in an elegant casino? Or storm into an embassy on his own and single-handedly capture his man? How many of us would be able to maintain the stubborn, never-quit attitude that Bond has when Le Chiffre is torturing him? Be able to pilot a DC3 let alone triumph in a dogfight against 2 fighter jets? Beat up 3 MI6 agents with our hands tied behind our backs and then casually run on the outside of a terraced hall to confront our boss instead of running away first? Tear the train apart (and then adjust our cufflinks!) like in SF?

    And all of this PLUS a three dimensional character? That's even MORE impressive than just being the SuperBond of old IMHO. Larger than life and three dimensional are not mutually exclusive.

    My thoughts exactly - you get a sense watching Craig that these skills are hard-fought for, and that they have been acquired by a professional through grit and determination.

    Anyway, if I really wanted to watch an 'indestructible creature' who can do things 'no ordinary fellow can' I'd be better off watching 'Red Heat' , 'Commando' or other assorted Arnold Schwarzenegger movies of the late 80's(!).
  • edited December 2012 Posts: 3,063
    The Bond of the novels could do all the above things (i.e, running, shooting, driving, skiing) to an exceptionally high-level
    and
    Anyway, if I really wanted to watch an 'indestructible creature' who can do things 'no ordinary fellow can' I'd be better off watching 'Red Heat' , 'Commando' or other assorted Arnold Schwarzenegger movies of the late 80's(!).
    Well, no ordinary fellow can both run, shoot, drive and ski to and "exceptionally high-level" ;-)
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