Showing posts with label James Bond Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Bond Related. Show all posts

31 October 2020

Sean Connery: 'Bond, James Bond', But So Much More

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Sean Connery: 'Bond, James Bond', But So Much More
Sean Connery: the first Bond, and for many people, the best. (PA/PA Archive/PA Images)
Coverage of the passing of Sir Sean Connery has inevitably been dominated by his legacy as the screen’s first – and best – James Bond. Connery’s “Bond, James Bond” moment near the beginning of Dr. No (1962) is one of the iconic moments of cinema history and has spawned countless imitations and parodies.
Perhaps the most persistent myth about Connery, who was 90, is that he was an “unknown” actor who was plucked from obscurity by Bond producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who reportedly cast him against the wishes of author Ian Fleming and distributor United Artists. But this is to ignore the fact that Connery had already established himself as a television actor, drawing critical plaudits for lead roles in a 1957 BBC production of Requiem for a Heavyweight and in the 1961 TV production of Anna Karenina, but also appearing in a number of meaty co-starring roles in Hollywood films, including opposite Lana Turner in Another Time, Another Place (1958).

It was reportedly his appearance in Disney’s fantasy Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) that drew Connery to the notice of Broccoli’s wife, Dana, while the British crime drama The Frightened City (1961), in which Connery as an underworld enforcer steals the picture from its nominal star John Gregson, was also evidence of a star in the making.

Nevertheless Connery was inspired casting as James Bond. Connery made the role his own to such an extent that it is now impossible to imagine any of the other actors said to have been considered – including Cary Grant, David Niven, Patrick McGoohan and even Roger Moore – stepping into the shoes of “the gentleman agent with the licence to kill” in 1962.
In this context an important point to remember about Bond is that Fleming’s character was not an Old Etonian establishment figure: he is even described in Moonraker as being “alien and unEnglish”. Connery’s working-class Scottish roots – he was born and grew up in Edinburgh, where his early jobs had included milkman, bricklayer and coffin-polisher – imbued his Bond with that sense of “otherness”. 

To this extent Connery’s Bond has as much in common with the outsider protagonists of the British new wave – Laurence Harvey, Albert Finney, Richard Harris – as the tradition of British screen heroism incarnated by stars of the 1950s such as Richard Todd and Kenneth More.

Sean Connery and co-star Honor Blackman in a publicity shot for the film Goldfinger (1964). (PA/PA Archive/PA Images)
Connery’s performance in Dr No is edgy and brusque: he really settled into the part in From Russia With Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964) where he commands the screen with that indefinable quality of star “presence” that means all he has to do to dominate a scene is to be in it.

Beyond Bond

Bond brought Connery fame and fortune. He was paid a mere £6,000 for Dr No, four times that amount for From Russia With Love and a then-record US$1.25 million for his first Bond “comeback” in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever (George Lazenby had taken the role for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969).

The lucrative remuneration meant that Connery was able to pick and choose his roles outside the Bond pictures. Indeed his non-Bond roles demonstrate just how versatile an actor Connery was. Alfred Hitchcock cast him against type as Tippi Hedren’s conflicted husband in Marnie (1964), and he excelled in two films for Sidney Lumet, as the rebel-with-a-cause in the hard-hitting military prison drama The Hill (1965) and as a vengeful policeman in the much underrated The Offence (1973).
Connery was particularly good at playing characters older than himself, including the potentate standing up to Teddy Roosevelt in The Wind and the Lion (1975) and an ageing Robin Hood reflecting on his own myth in the beautifully elegiac Robin and Marian (1976). He paired with Michael Caine as soldiers of fortune in 19th-century Afghanistan in The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and was one of the all-star cast of suspects in Sidney Lumet’s lavish adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

Sean Connery: 'Bond, James Bond', But So Much More
Screen gods: Sean Connery and Michael Caine in The Man Who Would Be King (1975). (PA/PA Archive/PA Images)
There was, inevitably, the occasional left-field choice, but even the science-fiction oddity Zardoz (1973) now has something of a cult status. Connery famously said that he would “never” play Bond again after Diamonds Are Forever: hence the ironic title of his second Bond “comeback” Never Say Never Again (1983), a rival production outside the Eon Production series mounted by independent producer Kevin McClory.

Connery won his only Academy Award, a popular choice as Best Supporting Actor for his “Irish” street-cop in The Untouchables (1987), after which his career enjoyed a second wind as the world’s most bankable sexagenarian film star in a sequence of superior adventure and caper movies including The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Rock (1996) and Entrapment (1999).

By this time Connery’s refusal to disguise his accent had become something of a trademark, whatever the part. When Steven Spielberg cast him as Harrison Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), it captured the idea that Connery’s Bond was the symbolic “father” of a later generation screen hero.

Feet of clay

Most stars turn out to have feet of clay: Connery was no exception. He attracted controversy for a remark made in an interview with Playboy in 1965 that legitimised hitting a woman (“An open-handed slap is justified if all other alternatives fail”). His Bond did this on screen in From Russia With Love and Diamonds Are Forever.

He also had a public falling-out with Broccoli, suing the producer and MGM for alleged non-payment of profit shares in the Bond films. Against this should be set Connery’s charitable work: he used his fee for Diamonds Are Forever to found the Scottish International Education Trust to provide financial assistance for Scots from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend university and college.

Proud ‘Scottish peasant

Connery, who since the 1970s lived in Spain and the Bahamas as a tax exile, was proud of his Scottish roots. Ian Fleming warmed to Connery to the extent that he introduced a Scottish heritage for Bond into the later stories. Bond’s “I am a Scottish peasant and I will always feel at home being a Scottish peasant” – from The Man With the Golden Gun – might have been written with Connery in mind, although Bond was actually played by his successor, Roger Moore, in that film.

Unlike Bond, Connery did accept a knighthood, for services to film drama, in 2000. It is widely believed that his public support for the Scottish National Party had delayed his knighthood.

Connery’s last screen appearance was as Allan Quatermain in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), in which he leads a Victorian superhero team to save the British Empire. He confirmed his retirement when he was presented with the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
He died in his sleep at his home in Nassau, and is survived by his second wife Micheline and son (by first wife Diane Cilento) Jason Connery.The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:

James Chapman, Professor of Film Studies, University of Leicester

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

26 September 2020

UMe Celebrates The World's Most Famous Secret Agent With Release Of 'The Best Of Bond…James Bond'

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UMe Celebrates The World's Most Famous Secret Agent With Release Of 'The Best Of Bond…James Bond'
UMe Celebrates the world's most famous secret agent with the November 20, 2020 release of 'The Best Of Bond...James Bond.' Available via digital, 2CD, 3LP black vinyl and limited-edition gold vinyl, the collection features theme songs from all 25 official James Bond films, including “No Time To Die” By Billie Eilish and Oscar-winning songs by Adele and Sam Smith.
On November 20, UMe will release an updated version of The Best Of Bond…James Bond, a digital, 2CD and 3LP black vinyl compilation featuring celebrated theme songs from the longest-running film franchise. In addition, a limited-edition gold vinyl will be available exclusively via uDiscover Music and Sound of Vinyl. 

The new collection will include "No Time To Die" by Billie Eilish from No Time To Die, the 25th film in the series. Also now included will be Adele's "Skyfall" from Skyfall, the highest-grossing Bond film to date, and Sam Smith's Spectre theme, "Writing's On the Wall," – Oscar® winners for Best Song in 2013 and 2016, respectively. 

In addition to Billie Eilish, Adele and Sam Smith, included is the signature instrumental "James Bond Theme" by The John Barry Orchestra, which remains one of the most recognizable themes from film. 
The collection also includes Dame Shirley Bassey ("Goldfinger," "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Moonraker"). With "Goldfinger," Bassey achieved her first Top 10 hit, reaching No. 8 on The Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary charts. Bassey made her Oscars debut at the 85th Academy Awards, where she performed a spectacular rendition of "Goldfinger" as part of the telecast's James Bond 50th Anniversary tribute, which was celebrated by UMe with vinyl reissues of long-out-of-print soundtracks to Dr. No, Goldfinger and Live And Let Die.
Along with Louis Armstrong ("We Have All The Time In The World"), Nancy Sinatra ("You Only Live Twice"), Lulu ("The Man With The Golden Gun"), The Best Of Bond…James Bond also includes Paul McCartney & Wings ("Live And Let Die"). 
Written by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, performed by Paul McCartney & Wings and produced by former Beatles producer George Martin, the title theme song hit No. 2 on the chart, and it was nominated for both a GRAMMY Award, for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) / Best Background Arrangement, and an Academy Award, for Best Original Song. The single "Live And Let Die" became the first Bond theme song to win a GRAMMY award (Best Pop Vocal Performance, 1973), and the song continues to be a highlight in McCartney's live performances.
The Best Of Bond…James Bond also features Carly Simon ("Nobody Does It Better"), Tina Turner ("GoldenEye"), Duran Duran ("A View To A Kill"), Sheryl Crow ("Tomorrow Never Dies"), Madonna ("Die Another Day"), Garbage ("The World Is Not Enough"). 
With the release of "Skyfall," Rolling Stone compiled its Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs, all 10 of which, of course, appear on this set, including Tom Jones ("Thunderball") and Matt Monro ("From Russia With Love").
No Time To Die - Poster (image via IMDb)

No Time To Die - The Storyline

(Via IMDb)
Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

No Time To Die - The Trailer


  • The 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die, from EON Productions, Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios (MGM) and Universal Pictures International will be released globally on November 12 in the UK through Universal Pictures International and in the US on November 20 from MGM via its United Artists Releasing banner.

About UMe

Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) is the centralized U.S. catalog and special markets entity for UMG. Working in tandem with all of the company's record labels, UMe provides a frontline approach to catalog management, a concentration of resources, opportunities in new technologies and an emphasis on strategic marketing initiatives to engage all types of consumers across multiple entry points and platforms.

About EON Productions

EON Productions Limited and Danjaq LLC are wholly owned and controlled by the Broccoli/Wilson family. Danjaq is the US based company that co-owns, with Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, the copyright in the existing James Bond films and controls the right to produce future James Bond films. EON Productions, an affiliate of Danjaq, is the UK based production company that has made the James Bond films since 1962 and together with Danjaq controls all worldwide merchandising. 


For more information, visit 007.com and 007Store.

About Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and global distribution of film and television content across all platforms. The company owns one of the world's deepest libraries of premium film and television content as well as the premium pay television network EPIX, which is available throughout the U.S. via cable, satellite, telco and digital distributors. In addition, MGM has investments in numerous other television channels, digital platforms and interactive ventures and is producing premium short-form content for distribution. 


For more information, visit www.mgm.com.

About Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures is an American film studio, owned by Comcast through its wholly owned subsidiary NBCUniversal, and is one of Hollywood's "Big Six" film studios. Its production studios are at 100 Universal City Plaza Drive in Universal City, California. Distribution and other corporate offices are in New York City. Universal Studios is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Universal was founded in 1912 by the German Carl Laemmle (pronounced "LEM-lee"), Mark Dintenfass, Charles O. Baumann, Adam Kessel, Pat Powers, William Swanson, David Horsley, Robert H. Cochrane, and Jules Brulatour.


It is the world's fourth oldest major film studio, after the renowned French studios Gaumont Film Company and Pathé, and the Danish Nordisk Film company. Six of Universal Studios' films; Jaws (1975), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Jurassic Park (1993), Despicable Me 2 (2013), Furious 7 (2015) and Jurassic World (2015) achieved box office records, with the first three (which were directed by Steven Spielberg) all becoming the highest-grossing film at the time of its initial release.

About United Artists

United Artists Releasing, a joint venture between Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) and Annapurna Pictures (Annapurna), is a U.S. theatrical releasing company. Built upon the legacy of the iconic United Artists motion picture studio, the joint venture provides a home where filmmakers are supported by thoughtful approaches to marketing, publicity and distribution. United Artists Releasing offers content creators an alternative distribution option outside of the studio system and supports Annapurna and MGM's film slates as well as the films of third-party filmmakers.
SOURCE: UMe

James Bond Related Stories:

15 January 2020

Heineken Unveils "No Time To Die" TV Commercial Starring Daniel Craig

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Daniel Craig features in the latest Heineken Ad in the lead up to James Bond’s No Time To Die.
Daniel Craig features in the latest Heineken Ad in the lead up to James Bond’s No Time To Die
Heineken has launched its latest James Bond TV commercial featuring Daniel Craig. The launch comes ahead of the April release of the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die

The TV commercial, which will be shown in over 75 countries, gives a fresh perspective on Daniel Craig's iconic portrayal of James Bond. Focusing on the premise that Daniel Craig will always be James Bond in the eyes of fans around the world. 

Daniel Craig features in the latest Heineken Ad in the lead up to James Bond’s No Time To Die (Screeengrab)
  • Watch the new commercial here.
Starting with a high-speed taxi sequence, Daniel Craig is constantly recognised as James Bond by surprised locals as he hunts down his missing passport, before enjoying a cold refreshing Heineken. The new commercial launches worldwide today.
Gianluca Di Tondo, Senior Director, Global Heineken Brand said; "Heineken has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the James Bond franchise for over two decades, covering the last eight films. Ahead of the release of No Time To Die, we wanted to bring a twist to the iconic character and show how Bond lives beyond the film – as we believe, once James Bond, always James Bond. In addition, as we do with our other partnerships such as UEFA Champions League and Formula One, we have developed a dedicated Heineken 0.0% element to the campaign. This part of the campaign, as well as outlining the consumer choice available in our portfolio, has already created significant media debate." 
Daniel Craig features in the latest Heineken Ad in the lead up to James Bond’s No Time To Die (Screeengrab)
  • Watch the Heineken 0.0% content here.
In addition to the commercial, which can be viewed on TV, online and across social media, Heineken is also activating consumer promotions as well as limited edition packaging.
James Bond - No Time To Die
James Bond - No Time To Die (image via IMDb)
No Time To Die, is the twenty-fifth James Bond film from EON Productions and will be released globally from April 2, 2020 in the U.K. through Universal Pictures International and in the U.S on April 10, from Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios via their United Artists Releasing banner.

More About James Bond - No Time To Die:

(via Wikipedia)
Some time after the capture of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, James Bond has left active service. He is approached by Felix Leiter, his friend and a CIA officer, who enlists his help in the search for a missing scientist. When it becomes apparent that the scientist was abducted, Bond must confront a danger the likes of which the world has never seen before...
SOURCE: HEINEKEN

24 September 2019

Madame Tussauds Orlando to Unveil Figures of All Six James Bonds on National James Bond Day

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James Bond Figures
James Bond Figures
Madame Tussauds Orlando will unveil the wax figures of all six James Bonds from the iconic film franchise on Oct. 5, National James Bond Day. 

The lineup includes Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig—star of Bond's 25th film, No Time to Die
"As the world anticipates the release of the 2020 James Bond film, we're bringing the excitement and drama of the franchise to life here at Madame Tussauds Orlando," says James Paulding, general manager. "With video, lighting and an interactive 007 soundtrack, guests will be completely immersed in the world of James Bond."
Created in collaboration with EON Productions, each figure will feature a classic 007 suit based on the original costumes designed by Oscar winning costume designer, Lindy Hemming.

The six figures stand together against an impactful floor-to-ceiling video display, theatrical lighting and iconic Bond music from the classic Bond films. While interacting with the figures, guests will hear their favorite 007 theme songs and see a montage of footage from the films.

All six Bonds are waiting for you. But, do you know when they made their debut as 007? (Answers below:)

  • Sean Connery: Dr. No, 1962
  • George Lazenby: On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1969
  • Roger Moore: Live and Let Die, 1973
  • Timothy Dalton: The Living Daylights, 1987
  • Pierce Brosnan: GoldenEye, 1995
  • Daniel Craig: Casino Royale, 2006
  • The figures will appear at Madame Tussauds Orlando for a limited time 
'James Bond: No Time to Die' title logo
'James Bond: No Time to Die' title logo

More About James Bond: No Time to Die:

(via Wikipedia)
"James Bond has left active service when his friend Felix Leiter enlists his help in the search for a missing scientist. When it becomes apparent that the scientist was abducted, Bond must confront a danger the likes of which the world has never seen before..."

26 June 2019

The Most Famous Car In The World: RM Sotheby's Presents James Bond Aston Martin DB5 [Video Included]

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1965 Aston Martin DB5 "Bond Car"
1965 Aston Martin DB5 "Bond Car" (image via RM Sotheby's)
RM Sotheby's has announced "the most famous car in the world" and the most iconic Aston Martin of all time to lead 'An Evening with Aston Martin', a special single-marque sale at the company's Monterey auction on 15 August. RM Sotheby's will present a James Bond 1965 Aston Martin DB5, one of just three surviving examples commissioned in period by Eon Productions and fitted with MI6 Q Branch modifications.

In 1963, two near-identical cars were built by Aston Martin and loaned to Eon Productions for the filming of Goldfinger; one for stunt driving and chase sequences, and the other for interior shots and close-ups, to be equipped with functional modifications by special effects guru John Stears. 


As legendary weapons-master Q would explain to 007, the DB5 was equipped with front and rear hydraulic over-rider rams on the bumpers, a Browning .30 caliber machine gun in each fender, wheel-hub mounted tire-slashers, a raising rear bullet-proof screen, an in-dash radar tracking scope, oil, caltrop and smoke screen dispensers, revolving license plates, a passenger-seat ejection system, a telephone in the driver's door to communicate with MI6 headquarters, and a hidden compartment under the driver's seat containing several weapons.

The smash success of Goldfinger led producers to order two more DB5s; chassis nos. DB5/2008/R, the example on offer by RM Sotheby's, and DB5/2017/R. The two cars were fitted with all Bond modifications and shipped to the U.S. for promotional duties for Thunderball.

Reached through his son, Stephane Connery, legendary actor Sean Connery, who portrayed James Bond on film in both Goldfinger and Thunderball said: "These DB5s are amazing – I remember the Furka Pass tire shredding as well as the promotional events with these cars – they have become increasingly iconic since Goldfinger and Thunderball, in fact I bought a very fine DB5 myself relatively recently."
Under current ownership, the DB5 has undergone a well-documented restoration by Aston Martin Heritage Specialists Roos Engineering, with all thirteen Bond modifications refurbished to function as originally built. 


  • One of three surviving examples, having had just three private owners over 50 years, the DB5 offers a highly desirable acquisition for the serious marque collector…or secret agent (Estimate: $4,000,000 - $6,000,000).

The Video:



SOURCE: RM Sotheby's

23 September 2017

007 ELEMENTS: A new James Bond Cinematic Installation

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007 ELEMENTS - Solden Exterior Render
007 ELEMENTS - Solden Exterior Render (PRNewsfoto/007 ELEMENTS)
007 ELEMENTS is a new James Bond cinematic installation opening this winter, built inside the summit of the Gaislachkogl Mountain in Sölden.
The name 007 ELEMENTS reflects the visitor's journey through a series of galleries, each distilling the craft of the signature elements that define a James Bond film. The installation will focus on Spectre , which was shot in Sölden and will feature other titles in the long-running 24 film Bond franchise.
The collaboration between the project's Creative Director, Neal Callow (Art Director on Casino RoyaleQuantum of SolaceSkyfall and Spectre) and Optimist Inc. Head of Design, Tino Schaedler and his team has resulted in an immersive, interactive and educational experience that places visitors inside the world of 007 while revealing how that world is made.
"Our aim with 007 ELEMENTS is to tell the story of the making of 007 films in an ultra-modern, emotive and engaging way," Callow explains. "We want to use this incredible location to place our guests into Bond's environment, and bring the stories to life in a unique and unforgettable way."
Located 3,050 meters above sea level, the 1,300 square meter building has been constructed within the mountain and is arranged over two levels. Blending seamlessly with its surroundings, the impressive structure reveals itself through a tunnel and unfolds into two main areas offering spectacular views of the Tyrolean valleys.
Combining state-of-the-art technology with stark contemporary architecture, 007 ELEMENTS creates a captivating experience with a dramatic cinematic soundscape set in nature's awe-inspiring surroundings.
The bespoke new building to house the installation was designed and is currently being constructed by Obermoser Architects. Tyrolean architect, Johann Obermoser and his team have been planning and realising award-winning commercial and residential buildings since 1983 including the spectacular ice Q restaurant on the summit of the Gaislachkogl and the Gaislachkogelbahn and Giggijochbahn cable car stations in Sölden.
007 ELEMENTS is a partnership between EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) who jointly own the rights to the James Bond films, and Cable Car Companies Sölden.
Architect Johann Obermoser’s concept drawing of the building located 3,050 meters above sea level in Sölden, Austria to house the new James Bond cinematic installation.
Architect Johann Obermoser’s concept drawing of the building located 3,050 meters above sea level in Sölden, Austria to house the new James Bond cinematic installation.
About EON Productions
EON Productions Limited and Danjaq LLC are wholly owned and controlled by the Wilson/Broccoli family. Danjaq is the US based company that co-owns, with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, the copyright in the existing James Bond films and controls the right to produce future James Bond films. EON Productions, an affiliate of Danjaq, is the UK based production company that makes the James Bond films and together with Danjaq controls all worldwide merchandising. The 007 franchise has produced twenty-four films since 1962.

About Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and global distribution of film and television content across all platforms. The company owns one of the world's deepest libraries of premium film and television content as well as the premium pay television network EPIX, which is available throughout the U.S. via cable, satellite, telco and digital distributors. In addition, MGM has investments in numerous other television channels, digital platforms and interactive ventures and is producing premium short-form content for distribution.

About Cable Car Companies Sölden
Cable Car Companies Sölden stands for innovation, excellence and state-of-the-art technology. One of the leading ski lift companies in the Alps, the company is proud of its architectural masterpieces in the Sölden ski resort. These include the BIG 3 (viewing platforms on three different 3000-meter-high mountains), the two most powerful cable cars in Europe, the Gaislachkogelbahn and the new Giggijochbahn, and the spectacular ICE Q restaurant on the summit of the Gaislachkogl. Sölden enjoys the second highest number of guest nights in Austria - second only to the capital city of Vienna.

About Obermoser Architects
Leading Austrian architect, Obermoser arch-omo zt gmbh has been creating and constructing award winning commercial and residential buildings since 1983. Tyrolean architect Johann Obermoser and his team are responsible for the Gaislachkoglbahn, ice Q restaurant and the impressive Giggijochbahn in Sölden.

About Optimist Inc.
Optimist Inc. is a creative agency that thrives on innovation and true firsts. They're founded on the simple belief that authenticity and passion reign supreme. Driven by the desire to create something truly unique, they seamlessly blend creative, strategy, design, content, and production talent to deliver one-of-a-kind solutions that are both real and socially viable.

007 Elements Solden Plaza Render - Featuring James Bond’s Family Crest
007 Elements Solden Plaza Render - Featuring James Bond’s Family Crest (PRNewsfoto/007 ELEMENTS)

SOURCE: 007 ELEMENTS

12 May 2017

James Bond Needs A New Attitude, Not A New Actor

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Sexist and altogether out-dated, the same old James Bond. Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images

By Nicola Bishop, Manchester Metropolitan University

As someone who has recently taken to reading Ian Fleming’s books, I am drawn into the debate surrounding Joanna Lumley’s comments about actor Idris Elba not being the James Bond that Fleming created. The Conversation

Film writer Caspar Salmon’s column in the Guardian made several valid points. The most persuasive being that we should abandon the “emotionless character that belongs to a grotesque tradition”. Bond is a “hero” who is heterosexist, misogynistic, and racist – so inherent in 1954’s Live and Let Die that getting beyond the first chapter proved too much for this reader – more needs to be done than just another change of actor.

Yet the “who-will-be-the-next-Bond” discussions never stop. According to the press, Elba is equally not interested, a contender, and a sure thing. We’ve even had a “Jane Bond” social media campaign which saw Gillian Anderson throwing her metaphorical hat in the ring.
Given that the creative minds behind the BBC’s Doctor Who – a series predicated on the doctor’s ability to regenerate, which gives completely free reign over the actor who is cast – have managed to reincarnate the good Doctor a mere 13 times as a white man, do the chances of real diversity seem beyond even science fiction, let alone upper-class Cold War imperialism?

The eternal playboy
Historian Tim Stanley argues that to give Bond “breasts” would be to “lose the magic behind the character” – so we can safely assume that Bond is merely a powerful metaphorical penis. In keeping what have become the stock symbols – the fast cars, expensive suits, the Martinis and the exotic locations with their equally exotic women – the films have arguably become more one-dimensional than the novels. Books which, for all their issues, can still be located within a different social and historical context. So what is our excuse now?

In the conclusion of 2015 film Spectre, there is an inevitability to which the final shot – of Bond and Madeline Swann walking across London Bridge – seems fated to result in the kind of brutality with which Teresa di Vincenzo met her abrupt end in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963). In the novel, if not as explicitly on screen, Bond’s joy at the planning of his future wedded bliss extends to the imagined home-making in his London flat, long and loving phone conversations between them as he works to bring down super-villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and the growing awareness that his life finally holds richer meaning.
Teresa, like Madeline, was Bond’s match: flighty, adventurous, fearless, daughter of a high-ranking criminal with an understanding of the necessity for “real men” to carry concealed weapons. Both women are victims of their own violent pasts – they are strong but need rescuing from themselves. Bond, however, has to be a playboy, he can save them, avenge them even, but he cannot be “tamed” by them.

Self-destruction
Spoof spy character Austin Powers ridiculed the constant disruption of the spy’s romantic bliss in the beginning of The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). His new wife turned out to be a fem-bot, which must self-destruct or risk bringing down the spy himself. Even Judi Dench, after 20 years as M, met her end as a foolish female victim – how could the head of the secret intelligence service inexplicably use a torch on a dark Highland escape? Forget a female Bond when so few of the women in the films last beyond the end credits.

Perhaps the bigger question is not who should play the next Bond but why haven’t we moved on? Looking back at the original stories, and even ignoring the problematic 1950s cultural landscape, they are a mixed bag. Some are gripping, well-paced and thrilling, others loose and unwieldy, slow or confusing. Casino Royale (1953) is almost entirely focused on a card game that no one understands any more (when not playing cards, Bond is busy calling Vesper Lynd a “bitch”). Moonraker (1955) takes place in Dover not California, Venice or Rio. There are episodes in which even Bond is bored; chapters where he sits at his desk and complains about paperwork, moving it from in-box to out-tray.

All of this is a far-cry from the jet-setting man of mystery in our cultural imagination – the whirlwind of cocktails and casual sex, heightened by theatrically high kicks and slow-motion punches, casual Western imperialism, and upper-class patriarchy. More important than who will play him, is the question of why we have unnaturally prolonged the life of Ian Fleming’s spy.

Guardian readers were quick to call Salmon’s assertion that Bond is effectively the same age as Prince Philip unfair, and they’ve got a point. We don’t hold Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple to their fictional birth dates. We do, however, recognise the need to update the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, taking the essence of their detection and applying it in modern ways. Bond, on the other hand, has all the latest gadgetry, new global enemies, and even an invisible car, but his “essence” has sadly stayed the same.

About Today's Contributor:
Nicola Bishop, Senior Lecturer in English/Film and Television, Manchester Metropolitan University


This article was originally published on The Conversation

15 November 2016

How Brexit And Trump Will Affect James Bond

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Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/EPA
By Klaus Dodds, Royal Holloway and Lisa Funnell, University of Oklahoma

James Bond will likely next grace cinema screens towards the end of 2018. Whether he will inhabit a filmic world in which the UK is no longer a member of the European Union and Donald Trump is the US president is yet to be seen – but if so, what a different world it will be. Bond’s mission is likely to involve the navigation of an increasingly porous Europe, vulnerable to malign influences from a resurgent Russia. The UK’s cyber-security defences face further challenges as industrial espionage and military and intelligence hacking intensifies. Bond is going to have his work cut out for him.

So it’s interesting to consider how these changes might effect Britain’s premier super-spy. As we explore in our new book, The Geographies, Genders and Geopolitics of James Bond, Bond’s geographical mobility is pivotal to mission success. And however good he is, he needs allies and access to the resources that they are able to mobilise. Take away those “assets” and Bond’s agency is degraded. So do these tumultuous times – with the possible end of the Anglo-American special relationship and UK-European co-operation – also mean the end of Bond as we know it?

Since Bond is British, Brexit and the contemporary backlash against globalisation seem the most obvious things to consider. The ramifications of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the disillusionment with neo-liberal globalisation will certainly alter the way in which he is able to move and execute his secret missions in both subtle and not so subtle ways.


Brexit Bond
Brexit will certainly have an impact on his mobility. In most of the films featuring airports, including the earliest Dr No (1962), Bond is depicted as walking through them with brio, as a man untroubled by the “petty sovereigns” (as literary critic Judith Butler might have it) who administer and police airports. Travel could become more complicated for a post-Brexit Bond. His ability to glide through customs and border inspections airports and seaports would certainly diminish.

So new storylines might place further emphasis on Bond’s ability to circumvent conventional state controls and offer up further evidence of MI6 investing in multiple passports. As the Jason Bourne series suggested, an assassin needs, among other things, a decent selection of passports, including those of close allies such as Canada and New Zealand and adversaries such as Russia.

But M will likely have bigger concerns than passport problems, because the UK may suffer when it comes to cooperation with EU intelligence agencies. In Spectre (2015), we learned of the “Nine Eyes” intelligence network that included traditional working partners such as the United States and newer members like South Africa. But this network would likely be compromised in this emerging nationalistic world. European partners might react badly to Brexit and tell the UK to rely on the United States. Disillusionment with globalisation more generally might make partners less likely to share information and secrets – every state for itself could become the new rallying cry even for the closest of allies.


The ‘special relationship’
Working with the United States might be tricky, though. Recent Bond films have suggested a more ambivalent relationship with the former “special partner”. The CIA’s Felix Leiter was helpful in Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008) but did not feature in the two most recent films. The warm relationship that Bond enjoyed with earlier incarnations of Leiter has long gone. In recent years, other spy films like M1-5 (2015) and Eye in the Sky (2015) have also raised concerns about the role, viability, and morality of British intelligence, particularly when collaborating with US military and intelligence agencies.

This sense of unease with the UK-US relationship is sure to only increase with Trump as president. He may prime his administration to insulate and isolate the United States from forms of globalisation that are antithetical America’s recovery to “greatness”. America (as represented through the CIA) may well not want to work with Bond/M16 and share its resources and intelligence as part of a new directive to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain. Leiter could be told in the future not to share intelligence with Bond because America needs to protect its interests first and foremost.

So in a world without the security of an Anglo-American connection in addition to the degradation of European partnerships, Bond’s role is likely to look very different. Will Bond still fight for global security or be repositioned more and more as a lone hero who fights for Britain and its safety in a post-globalised world? It might be too much to think that Bond could make Britain “great” again but he could help to stop a further “slide” down the international pecking order.

Goodbye Britain? Geoff Caddick/EPA

Bond’s Britain
And what might Brexit do to Bond’s relationship with the country itself? In Skyfall we see Bond’s ancestral home in Scotland and his retreat to his family estate is critical to luring the villainous Raoul Silva away from a chaos-ridden London. While M dies in Scotland, Bond’s return to London is foregrounded by his pose on top of a government building in the centre of the city. Large Union Jack flags are fluttering away on top of the structure while others serve as part of an official tribute to the late M.

Skyfall is overwhelmingly a celebration of a United Kingdom. Bond’s Anglo-Scottish heritage is integral to his movement from London to Scotland and back again. But given a divisive Brexit vote in June, might Bond’s identity shift and become a more English in the wake of Scotland’s overwhelming vote to remain in the European Union?

And if the process of Brexit proves troubling and time consuming as we expect, leading to heated discussions about parliamentary scrutiny, MI6 may be the victim of a blowback as parliamentarians seek to reclaim their authority from the executive. The late M was very vexed about such scrutiny; she patently did not care for it. Bond will have to hope that he and MI6 are still “trusted” and permitted to operate in the “shadows”, and allowed to do so in a world where nations find it harder than ever to trust each other, let alone the global political and economic system.
The Conversation

About Today Contributors 
Klaus Dodds, Professor of Geopolitics, Royal Holloway and Lisa Funnell, Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Oklahoma


This article was originally published on The Conversation

13 June 2016

The Name's Bond, James Bond ... Or Should It Be Jane?

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Gillian Anderson as Jane Bond. @GillianA/Twitter
By James Chapman, University of Leicester and Shelley Cobb, University of Southampton
Amid reports that Daniel Craig has hung up his Bond boots once and for all, speculation about who will take his place is rife. Will it be Idris Elba? Henry Cavill? Tom Hiddleston? While Hiddleston dismissed his chances, X-Files star Gillian Anderson threw her hat into the ring. It was liked almost 30,000 times – many people evidently think it’s time for James to become Jane. Two academics with opposing views make their cases.

15 June 2013

4 Most Iconic Cars In Movie History

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Cars have always had a significant role to play in movies. Sometimes, the cars help define the characters, while at other times they are on-screen to thrill audiences with heir good looks, deafening engine sounds and tire-shredding stunts. Many of these cars gain iconic status with automobile and movie lovers alike. Here are 4 of the most iconic cars is movie history.

13 March 2013

Bond On A Budget

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James Bond 007. He’s the greatest movie hero of all time: a fighter, a lover, a raconteur, a sportsman, a connoisseur of the finer things in life, and a style icon. Women want to be with him, men want to be him, and villains want to watch him die in ludicrous fashion. And he does it all on Her Majesty’s Service, which means the taxpayer foots the bill.

All of Bond’s: Martinis,  crashes and explosions, damage to government property and no doubt many paternity suits will probably add up, over the course of the fifty-odd years he’s been saving the world on our behalf, to Britain’s annual GDP. We might like to imagine ourselves living his life, but few of us could actually afford it even if the opportunity presented itself.

But for those of us who will always toss their hat onto the stand from a distance when they walk into a room, make a point of flirting with the boss’s secretary, or wish sometimes their car had an ejector seat when their passenger is irksome, it is possible to experience the defining parts of Bond’s lifestyle on a budget. Here are a few ideas:

12 March 2013

Dramatic Changes In American Life [Infographic]

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American life has changed dramatically in just 30 years. The U.S. population has grown by more than 80 million people. The male population has increased by more than 40 million, while the female population has grown by 38 million. Women still have a slight population edge over men with an additional five million members.

The average sales price for a home in 1983 was $89,000. In 2013, the average home sales price slightly more than $272,000. The average American's income has increased a great deal since 1983. The average person earned a salary of just $21,000 in 1983. In 2013, the average American earns a yearly salary of $49,000.

The political landscape has changed dramatically. In 1983, only 24 women held an elected position. The current number of elected women in office is 97. In 1983, Republican candidate Ronald Reagan won the election with just more than 50 percent of the vote. In contrast, Democratic President Obama was re-elected with 51 percent of the popular vote.

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