08 October 2021 358 Views

#FLEMINGFRIDAY: No time to Cry?

by James Murphy

When I said I was done with Bond? I lied. Sorry!

Did I have a good old sob about NO TIME TO DIE?

That’s classified. 😉 

But I did reflect on my relationship with the 007 character. Today’s blog entry is the product of that process. ‘Enjoy!’

NB POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT IN THIS PIECE. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN NO TIME TO DIE: Do not read.

(Also, go and see the movie, immediately! Patriotic, cinematic duty). 

With that bit of housekeeping out of the way. We can begin.

So. Yes. I toyed with ditching James Bond from my interest/hobby/viewing and reading habit list. But the 007 series, lore, mythology, style, symbolism and character are part of my cultural grid referencing system. I would be lost without it and cannot be mad at him for long. 😉

Contrary to my own self generated, social media propped, meta-myth; I do not live a Bond lifestyle. The occasional Martini, maybe. The Savoy makes the cocktail, perfectly. Stirred though. NOT shaken!

Growing up with top flight military personnel, academics, field scientists and diplomats  set me up to move in any circle. I had the honour of being mentored by some real world James Bond ‘types’. And yes, glamorous women are welcome for tea with me, anytime.

But that’s it. I never wanted to ‘be’ 007, play him or even live vicariously through his world. No need. Watching the movies and encountering their talented personnel is inspiration in itself. ‘Always was.

Allow me to explain:

Bond helped ignite my interest in Theatre and Film. And it has served as a window to assorted arts and crafts, through the years.

  • Meeting Timothy Dalton after he played Cornelius Melody on stage in A Touch of the Poet, is something I will never forget. A thorough gentleman, he answered all of my then eight year old self’s questions. Dalton looked very cool in a fisherman’s sweater. He was/is the heir to Olivier on stage, no question.

  • John Glen and his lovely wife, Janine, attended dinner as my guests at New College, Oxford, when I was a student there. John remains one of the finest directors to have helmed 007 pictures: an innate understanding of action choreography and how to balance pantomime fun with genuinely deadly thrills for Bond.

 

  • Caroline Bliss advised me on how best to undertake bespoke meditation regimes. Her excellent book on that area of wellness and self discovery is a must read.
  • Virginia Hey had a chat with me on the sexual politics of Bond. We talked  007’s characteristics: a gentleman yet tough and still a romantic idealist, albeit with wandering eye.
  • Robert Davi was a great correspondent, advising me once on politics and film and how those disciplines have intersected. Great Sinatra match too as a vocalist, via his own encyclopedic / operatic musical memory.

  • Benicio Del Toro hosted me for cocktails in a VIP suite at the Cannes Film Festival once. A truly, even absurdly, generous gesture. When I mentioned Doctor Who, the poor man looked a bit confused (‘Doctor Que?’) but I explained it was because Timothy Dalton was set to cameo in the show. Benicio has since appeared in many sci-fi blockbusters from Marvel to Star Wars. That totally started with me. Yep. And when I mentioned BARBARA BROCCOLI? Benicio touched his heart. ‘Ah! LA SENORITA BROCCOLI!‘.

And quite right, too. Barbara Broccoli is lovely. Binding the Bond ‘family’ of talented and kind people cited in this piece so far. And yes there are others from the 007 series whom I have encountered,  but we’d be here all day: will include them in a sequel! 

Back on topic/course etc:  

I have made it relatively clear that I do not care for NO TIME TO DIE. But I urged everyone to see it and enjoy the film. I would never begrudge the Bond producers their vision. Besides, it’s not entirely their say.

They MUST respond to market forces, trends, themes and somehow place Bond IN that zone. Even if means making a downbeat film in which Bond dies with zero utility and much mawkish derivative faux emotion (imho).

Iron Man /Tony Stark; Han Solo; no doubt Indiana Jones dies next year on film, too? These heroes are all having death scenes. It’s the ‘in’ thing this cinematic season! 

The reason Bond WILL return IS down to ‘La Senorita Broccoli’. A beautiful, generous, clever, protective leader: she will ensure the franchise grows and is protected from dilution, disintegration and derision.

Now: I happen to disagree with HOW the Bond team interpreted the ‘Fleming’ vision in NO TIME TO DIE. But I can at least respect that they tried to honour the traditions as best they could.

Bond WILL return, and quickly, in some new guise or other and hopefully, on a high note. Ms Broccoli will see to that. She is a visionary: right up there with Emma Freud, Kathryn Bigelow, Sherry Lansing and Kathy Kennedy in the pantheon of female power players on film. And casting Daniel Craig was a genius move. He earned his Hollywood walk of fame star this week (congrats, btw!).

I would never give gratuitous advice to TEAM 007. But: Fleming created ‘fairy tales for grown ups’. That means one can of course dip into a fun escapist movie like SPY WHO LOVED ME or equally apply oneself to darker fare (LICENCE TO KILL). Sometimes you strike lucky with a Bond to please every tone: LIVING DAYLIGHTSGOLDENEYE/ TOMORROW NEVER DIES.

It’s all Brothers Grimm meets geopolitics via British patriotic strength. The key thing is the baddies must be defeated and Bond must somehow live to ‘die another day’ (that is a Housman quote, btw). It’s about confronting life’s ills rather than avoiding them yet doing so through a safety of formula and timeless tradition.

Hence, I love SKYFALL: you can face mortality and the loss of elders and  still stand proud atop the roof of union jacks, readied for the next mission. By same rationale, I loathe NO TIME TO DIE (for all its merits and objective possibilities for enjoyment /recommendation etc).

In killing 007? A vital patriotic popcorn pawn has been taken away, however briefly: thereby sending an unintended message to real world competing powers, offscreen. I am serious. Bond is propaganda, not melodrama.

Remember: Ian Fleming did psy-ops /propaganda. And he was well aware of the Arthurian, heraldic, timeless ideals to the character of Bond. That’s why he never killed 007 definitively. China, Russia, Iran, Syria, North Korea and assorted Taliban types will probably play NO TIME TO DIE as a movie, for free, on repeat.

Just sayin’. But I digress.

Whilst I am still shaken and stirred, genuinely, by the death of Bond in his latest adventure (once again, not what they did; just how it was done), that requires a swift kick in the arse!

REAL life goes on, with or without fictional heroes. Indeed, the experiences listed in this article are from that ‘real’ life. Meeting great people, talking, learning.

And James Bond endures, even if they do kill him in one misguided movie. The brand, the films, the books, the world of the character. They all mean differing things to each ‘fan’ and casual viewer/reader. Within that variety, lies the binding power and longevity of 007. Indefinitely. 

Therefore:  Bond is very much there to stay in my cultural landscape.

JAMES BOND WILL RETURN. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, ONE AND ALL. TRANSMISSION ENDS X 



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