Tragedy in Bond movies

edited April 2014 in Bond Movies Posts: 12,676
I want here to discuss tragic elements in Bond movies. Some Bond movies are tragedies, or at least have strong elements of tragedy in them. Mainly Casino Royale, Skyfall and to a lesser extend On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I say to a lesser extend because unlike the previous two the death of the tragic heroin is not a direct result of her faults and failures.

For the other two, however, there are many elements of tragedy in the plot and the characters. Let's discuss it.
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  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Posts: 3,157
    Also Quantum of Solace, maybe?
  • Posts: 12,676
    Walecs wrote:
    Also Quantum of Solace, maybe?

    Not nearly as much. In QOS there is nobody central whose life end up tragically, for one. Camille's parents died off screen years before the story starts and agent Fields did nothing wrong or made no true mistake to deserve her fate. She is no central to the plot either. In CR and SF, you have Vesper Lynd, Séverine and M who all are overall good, but made mistakes that will cause their ultimate doom. Like tragic characters in Racine, none of them are completely guilty, neither are they completely innocent. In both movies, and OHMSS as well, victory comes with heavy loss and while the guilty is punished, it does not go without causing serious harm. But more importantly, Vesper Lynd, Séverine and M all pay for their own mistakes. Vesper is in my opinion maybe the one true tragic character Fleming invented. In the movies, both Vesper's and M's story arch play as a tragedy.
  • Posts: 10,274
    Well for me, the 3 saddest scenes in the series are Tracy's death, M's death, and Vesper's death. One moment I would consider tragic though is the scene in GE where Bond finds out Alec had lived and why he's out for revenge. Not on the level as the 3 deaths I mentioned above, but still a tragic situation IMO. The music there was sad and remorseful, too.
  • Posts: 12,676
    I am not merely talking about their deaths or the sadness of them, but talking their character as tragic and their death as tragic too, because they are the result of their actions.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Robotswana
    Posts: 38,613
    Most of the villains and henchmen are tragic, though. Maybe all of them. Or is that term strictly reserved for the "good" ?
  • Posts: 12,676
    Most of the villains and henchmen are tragic, though. Maybe all of them. Or is that term strictly reserved for the "good" ?

    That is a good question. A tragic character must have faults, but not to the point of being irredeemable. You don't feel sorry for the villains' death. You do when M or Vesper Lynd dies.
  • Ludovico wrote:
    Walecs wrote:
    Also Quantum of Solace, maybe?

    Not nearly as much. In QOS there is nobody central whose life end up tragically, for one. Camille's parents died off screen years before the story starts and agent Fields did nothing wrong or made no true mistake to deserve her fate. She is no central to the plot either. In CR and SF, you have Vesper Lynd, Séverine and M who all are overall good, but made mistakes that will cause their ultimate doom. Like tragic characters in Racine, none of them are completely guilty, neither are they completely innocent. In both movies, and OHMSS as well, victory comes with heavy loss and while the guilty is punished, it does not go without causing serious harm. But more importantly, Vesper Lynd, Séverine and M all pay for their own mistakes. Vesper is in my opinion maybe the one true tragic character Fleming invented. In the movies, both Vesper's and M's story arch play as a tragedy.

    What about Mathis? Here's a guy who trid to help out a friend despite being wronged. He forgives and takrs the high road.and is a listener to Bond only to be killed and have his body dumped in the can.
  • The tragic Bond films are the more memorable ones than the formulaic YOLTs etc..
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 13,423
    The tragic Bond films are the more memorable ones than the formulaic YOLTs etc..

    I agree and I love QoS, tragedy or not.
  • Posts: 7,599
    OHMSS is a tragedy, with Tracy been suicidal and being rescued by a knight on a white horse. During the movie we see 007 as a protector and Tracy finds her footing in live with James and then she manages to save his life in the alps. At that point Bond and Tracy fall for eachother and you know that tragedy will happen and when it happens it does happen in a moment of total bliss and happiness.

    Tracy with her journey in OHMSS is the ultimate tragical heroine, for me.

    Vesper is less of a tragedy because she was out to betray Bond from the beginning, then discovered that Bond was more than she expected. But still betrayed him even if it was meant to save his life. She was a tragic figure caught between a rock and a stone and would never have a happy ending, so less of a tragedy.
  • Posts: 7,599
    Dragonpol wrote:
    The tragic Bond films are the more memorable ones than the formulaic YOLTs etc..

    I agree and I love QoS, tragedy or not.

    QoB was a tragedy, it was the worst of the Bourne movies and EON should have taken more time and a better director to make it.

  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    edited April 2014 Posts: 13,423
    SaintMark wrote:
    Dragonpol wrote:
    The tragic Bond films are the more memorable ones than the formulaic YOLTs etc..

    I agree and I love QoS, tragedy or not.

    QoB was a tragedy, it was the worst of the Bourne movies and EON should have taken more time and a better director to make it.

    Now that is a different sense of the word "tragedy" when applied to QoS than I had intended, @SaintMark. I should have spotted that obvious howler...but I didn't. :(
  • edited April 2014 Posts: 12,292
    I'd like to put forward DAD. I think it was a tragedy that a great Bond like Brosnan had such an unbelievably crap final film.
    Walecs wrote:
    Also Quantum of Solace, maybe?

    I think it's a tragedy that the sequel to CR, one of the best Bond films ever, was such a pretentious, rushed mess of a film.
  • edited April 2014 Posts: 7,599
    Dragonpol wrote:
    SaintMark wrote:
    Dragonpol wrote:
    The tragic Bond films are the more memorable ones than the formulaic YOLTs etc..

    I agree and I love QoS, tragedy or not.

    QoB was a tragedy, it was the worst of the Bourne movies and EON should have taken more time and a better director to make it.

    Now that is a different sense of the word "tragedy" when applied to QoS than I had intended, @SaintMark. I should have spotted that obvious howler...but I didn't. :(

    Pardon me for misbehaving. but you left the ball in front of an empty goal with no goalkeeper in sight. :D ;)


    The real tragedy is that there is actually a fairly decent movie within QoB, that might have been so much more than somebody else as a director, no Bourne editor, no Bourne stunt coordinator and a full script would have made possible.
    The tragedy is that QoB could have been so much better.
  • edited April 2014 Posts: 12,676
    Ludovico wrote:
    Walecs wrote:
    Also Quantum of Solace, maybe?

    Not nearly as much. In QOS there is nobody central whose life end up tragically, for one. Camille's parents died off screen years before the story starts and agent Fields did nothing wrong or made no true mistake to deserve her fate. She is no central to the plot either. In CR and SF, you have Vesper Lynd, Séverine and M who all are overall good, but made mistakes that will cause their ultimate doom. Like tragic characters in Racine, none of them are completely guilty, neither are they completely innocent. In both movies, and OHMSS as well, victory comes with heavy loss and while the guilty is punished, it does not go without causing serious harm. But more importantly, Vesper Lynd, Séverine and M all pay for their own mistakes. Vesper is in my opinion maybe the one true tragic character Fleming invented. In the movies, both Vesper's and M's story arch play as a tragedy.

    What about Mathis? Here's a guy who trid to help out a friend despite being wronged. He forgives and takrs the high road.and is a listener to Bond only to be killed and have his body dumped in the can.

    But the thing is, Mathis did nothing wrong, nothing morally questionable, what happened to him may have been due to overconfidence, but not to the point of making him a tragic character. And do not get me wrong: I love the character and I appreciate QOS far more than most people here, but I do not consider QOS a tragedy.
  • Posts: 12,676
    SaintMark wrote:
    OHMSS is a tragedy, with Tracy been suicidal and being rescued by a knight on a white horse. During the movie we see 007 as a protector and Tracy finds her footing in live with James and then she manages to save his life in the alps. At that point Bond and Tracy fall for eachother and you know that tragedy will happen and when it happens it does happen in a moment of total bliss and happiness.

    Tracy with her journey in OHMSS is the ultimate tragical heroine, for me.

    Vesper is less of a tragedy because she was out to betray Bond from the beginning, then discovered that Bond was more than she expected. But still betrayed him even if it was meant to save his life. She was a tragic figure caught between a rock and a stone and would never have a happy ending, so less of a tragedy.

    But that's what makes her far more tragic than any of them. Like Racine defined it, "neither completely guilty, nor completely innocent". She does not commit treason out of evil intentions, but because she is in love and the object of blackmail. She tries to get out of trouble, but ultimately fails and in the end, tries to redeem herself by committing suicide. Because there is no solution to her situation, she is the most tragic figure. Tracy on the other hand, does not die due to the consequences of her past actions and failures. Not directly anyway.

    That is why CR is maybe the most tragic novel of Fleming and I think he was conscious of writing a tragedy disguised as spy fiction. He knew his classics.

  • Posts: 7,599
    Ludovico wrote:
    But that's what makes her far more tragic than any of them. Like Racine defined it, "neither completely guilty, nor completely innocent". She does not commit treason out of evil intentions, but because she is in love and the object of blackmail. She tries to get out of trouble, but ultimately fails and in the end, tries to redeem herself by committing suicide. Because there is no solution to her situation, she is the most tragic figure. Tracy on the other hand, does not die due to the consequences of her past actions and failures. Not directly anyway.

    For me the Vesper of the movie is not so much a tragic figure but a traitor, her own choices and actions lead to her demise and like 007 mentions, the bitch is dead. No more no less. SHe is an imstrument that shakes his trust in people and his job. While Tracy gives James Bond a purpose, love and a new direction and all she is and would be gets taken away after curing from a depression. The rise and fall of Tracy Bond is a far stronger and powerfull tragedy.
    In the books it does take 007 two whole books to recover, Vesper was gone and forgotten in the next book and does get mentioned again in TMWTGG.
    Ludovico wrote:
    That is why CR is maybe the most tragic novel of Fleming and I think he was conscious of writing a tragedy disguised as spy fiction. He knew his classics.

    The Vesper of the novel is a different beast from the movie and I would agree with you immediately. Sadly the movie Vesper did get the sinking CGI house which took all drama and simplicity out of the movie. With the book you are left shocked when 007 finds out together with the reader what has really happened. Fleming is indeed a far better writer than those scriptclowns from CR the movie.
  • Posts: 12,676
    Vesper is a tragic character in the classical sense: neither completely innocent nor completely guilty. She is a traitor but due to no ill intention and she is brought to her death because of her failures and mistakes.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Robotswana
    Posts: 38,613
    There are also a few "sacrificial lambs" that apply to the classic Greek meaning of the word.
  • Posts: 2,341
    SaintMark wrote:
    OHMSS is a tragedy, with Tracy been suicidal and being rescued by a knight on a white horse. During the movie we see 007 as a protector and Tracy finds her footing in live with James and then she manages to save his life in the alps. At that point Bond and Tracy fall for eachother and you know that tragedy will happen and when it happens it does happen in a moment of total bliss and happiness.

    Tracy with her journey in OHMSS is the ultimate tragical heroine, for me.

    Vesper is less of a tragedy because she was out to betray Bond from the beginning, then discovered that Bond was more than she expected. But still betrayed him even if it was meant to save his life. She was a tragic figure caught between a rock and a stone and would never have a happy ending, so less of a tragedy.

    You are spot on Bro!
    I don't see how anyone can dismiss Tracy as being the most tragic character and scene in a Bond film. @SaintMark says it all but I would like to add:
    In her final scene just before bring shot, she says to Bond, "You've given me a wedding present, a future."
    The scene takes place on the same road where Bond first sees Tracy as she speeds past him during the PTS. Like SaintMark says, her journey and arc is complete. She has a bright future to look forward too and then Blofeld and Frl. Bunt comes driving by...
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Robotswana
    edited April 2014 Posts: 38,613
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy

    The common use of the word is not the same as the classic Greek meaning of the word, and this is what @Ludovico has hinted at all the time.
  • Posts: 12,676
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy

    The common use of the word is not the same as the classic Greek meaning of the word, and this is what @Ludovico has hinted at all the time.

    Exactly. In the colloquial sense, Tracy is a tragic character. In the classic sense, not as much, as her death is not a result of failures or flaws. Vesper is far more, and even M in SF.
  • I think the Masterson family losing two beautiful daughters in Goldfinger was a tragedy....
  • Posts: 6,396
    I think the Masterson family losing two beautiful daughters in Goldfinger was a tragedy....

    But at least Jill can be used as a striking garden ornament. ;-)
  • Posts: 12,676
    I think the Masterson family losing two beautiful daughters in Goldfinger was a tragedy....

    Jill was somewhat a tragic character, but
    Goldfinger was not centered around her.
  • When Dom Greene laughs saying "looks like you just lost another one"...for a second I thought Camille got shot. The whole mood of that scene dampens. What if? Afterwards just look how empty the two characters appear after going through all that hell. The music is perfect in displaying the inner feelings of the characters in addition to the acting by Bond and Camille.
  • Posts: 544
    Strawberry Fields death is one of the most tragic of the series for me.Bond should really have not left her alone in the hotel after his encounter with Greene earler.Especially considering she was not really a field agent.
  • Posts: 12,676
    But Fields is not a tragic character. It is a dramatic death, not a tragic one.
  • KerimKerim Istanbul Not Constantinople
    Posts: 2,629
    Quantum of Solace in of itself was a tragedy.
  • Posts: 12,676
    How?
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