Subtext and themes

13

Comments

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,897Chief of Staff
    Agreed, though that makes little sense in context.

    I came across this piece on subtext in AVTAK- http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ibFSAAAAQBAJ&pg=PT28&lpg=PT28&dq=subtext+james+bond&source=bl&ots=k34WLhMT4y&sig=RhUfZFhA-wkW-E2yT9NY7rFNJw0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MxEBVKGkHKeP7AaJ7ICwBw&ved=0CFkQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=subtext%20james%20bond&f=false

    Again, not a Bond film that a casual viewer would think possessed subtext and one that is often dismissed. The "age versus youth" theme of the film has been commented on before, by Raymond Benson for one- the good guys (Bond, Tibbett, M, Moneypenny, Q) are all late 50s to 70s (with the exception of Chuck Lee, whose role in the plot is miniscule) while the bad guys (Zorin, MayDay) are late 30s/early40s.
    Personally, I don't think this is deliberate subtext. Walken and Jones were hired for their contemporary status/image, not their ages, while Moore & co were hired for continuity (OP had performed well enough that Moore's return was actively sought).
    AVTAK has, as has been said many times, much in common with GF plot- and structure-wise*, but thematically the two films have little in common. Goldfinger's greed and lust for gold dominate the plot of the earlier film, while Zorin's are downplayed. Bond has a definite respect for Goldfinger ("I apologise, Goldfinger, it's an inspired scheme"), but merely distrust and later loathing for Zorin. There isn't a scene in the later film to compare with the laser-powered near-castration of Our Man, perhaps GF's finest moment, and one which carries its own significance as mentioned by John Cox above.


    * Bond is sent to investigate gold/microchips shady dealing
    Goldfinger/Zorin is an ostensibly respectable multi-millionaire businessman who plans to increase the value of his hoard of a valuable commodity by a huge criminal act
    Goldfinger/Zorin holds a meeting with associates explaining his plan, with a tableau rising to explain. One wants to back out, and is killed by the main henchman/woman
    Bond and the villain skirmish in social or sporting settings before getting down to the serious business (although this happens in other Bond stories too)
    etc etc
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,070MI6 Agent
    On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    I've always felt that OHMSS has some interesting themes subtexts to it.

    One is Identity.
    Blofeld of course is trying to establish his title as a Count, which leads to his downfall. Bond uses Blofeld's weakness by assuming the identity of Sir Hilary Bray, countering with his own identity deceptions.
    Blofeld: "It takes more than a few props to turn 007 into a herald."
    Bond: "And it'll take more than cutting off your ear lobes to turn you into a count".
    And Campbell poses as a mountain climber; and Draco and his men pose as Red Cross medics in the helicopter. No-one is who they seem to be. And in the film, doesn't a new Bond - George Lazenby- add to the question of identity?

    Another of course is Time.
    From the opening credits with the clock and hourglass, we know that time is an important theme.
    Like many of the films, OHMSS shows Bond in a race against time to thwart the villain's plan - in this case, containing the virus before Blofeld's Angels of Death can release it.
    But Time for Bond and Tracey adds another layer: "We have all the time in the world".
    Tracey: "Anyway, you have given me a wedding present. The best I could have. A future".
    Sadly, we know better.
    And the film is dense with images of clocks, particularly the nail biting scenes in Gumbold's offices.

    And isn't Virility a subtext in the film? Bond's virility is presented as invincible, from the string of beauties he beds ("Well, back to work. You've no idea how it's piling up") to Moneypenny's exclamation "Same old James! Even more so!"). The vaccine is presented as Virulent too. And Blofeld played by Telly Savalas is larger than life with a swagger, wooing Tracey and mesmerising the Angels. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it. :#
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,897Chief of Staff
    That's a good point about Time as a theme in OHMSS. Some of that comes from Fleming, some from Maibaum and/or Hunt, and perhaps some from Maurice Binder. I don't know how much input Hunt had into the title sequence- did he tell Binder to use the clock and hourglass, or did Binder come up with that himself? Either way, it works perfectly.
    Perhaps there's grounds for discussing the way in which the Bond main title sequences set up the plot, or reflect themes in the movie? Some do (eg SF, DAD) and some don't (eg TLD, FRWL).
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    I remember in an interview M Binder said something along the lines of,
    He didn't always put things into his title design as he didn't want to
    Give too much away for the audience about locations etc.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • HigginsHiggins GermanyPosts: 16,366MI6 Agent
    Imo the only elements with a purpose and planning in MBs titles where the naked ladies. Everything else was pure luck! :D
    President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

    Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    {[] The man had his priorities right ! :))
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    I noticed last night watching DAF. In the funeral home as Bond sits
    Waiting facing the alter. I noticed the stained glass , which of course
    Given the name of the film is diamond shaped.
    Although this means the cross looks upside down, this as many know
    Is used in black magic rituals so could it be used here as a sign that this
    Is really a place of evil ?
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,043MI6 Agent
    could it be used here as a sign that this
    Is really a place of evil ?
    Ask Baron Samedi. :))
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool. Craig is too.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.QOS 4.GF 5.DN/GE 6.SP 7.FRWL 8.TB/TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,897Chief of Staff
    Will I do? :))

    The funeral home scene is there, as are other funeral/coffin bits in the Bond movies, as an in-joke to Cubby Broccoli's teenage job in an undertaker's. There are a surprising amount of them once you start looking! TP's well-spotted piece of set design seems coincidental IMHO- it would have been totally suited to LALD though.
  • AlphaOmegaSinAlphaOmegaSin EnglandPosts: 10,924MI6 Agent
    And the Coffin in MR -{
    1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    It even carries over to QOS, when Camile nips in front of a truck
    Causing it to brake, sending many coffins across the road. -{
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 30,897Chief of Staff
    Yup, that's one of them. The PTS of TB is another, DAF as above, LALD is full of them (naturally enough, and at least some of that is from the book), but there are more!
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    Perhaps we could start a " where's Wally" thread only spotting
    Bond Coffin references. :))
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,070MI6 Agent
    Didn't Connery also have a spell polishing coffins or something similar after he'd left school?
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • AlphaOmegaSinAlphaOmegaSin EnglandPosts: 10,924MI6 Agent
    I know he was a Milkman at one Point.
    1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    Correct Connery used to French polish coffins, even sleping in them sometimes. :D
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • Lady IceLady Ice Posts: 262MI6 Agent
    Goldeneye is similar to Skyfall in that both films are a re-evaluation of the series. Goldeneye is the first post-Cold War Bond; M telling Bond that she thinks he is a 'relic of the Cold War' represents the opinion that the Bond films were of a certain era that has now gone. There's a few other metafictional references as well; when Alec mockingly says to Bond "I might as well ask you if all those vodka martinis ever silence the screams of all the men you've killed", it's a kind of acknowledgement of the moral ambiguity of Bond being suave and witty despite having killed so many people. Goldeneye acknowledges the moral ambiguities of Bond and the Bond franchise but does so in a way that doesn't destroy the fun.

    Skyfall represents a similar shift. Other people will be able to point out the references to earlier films but there are many, including Silva as a disillusioned agent not dissimilar to Alec. The question of whether MI6 protected him reflects Alec's doubts of whether Bond did enough; Bond is a fallible man in a fallible organisation. M's speech about how MI6 is still relevant but must change to battle 'in the shadows' where the threat lies repositions the villain. It answers the question of why current politics doesn't play much of a role in the modern films whereas the cold war frequently cropped up in older films, making Craig's films seem politically relevant even though modern politics doesn't really feature.

    Ironically though, Skyfall has a retro feel with the allusions to earlier films and in its villain, which I think is a mistep (I'm not sure whether any of the Craig films have had a good villain). Silva is flamboyant and cartoonish with the go to signs of evil for old film villains (foreign and camp/homosexual). I remember at the time people were up in arms about Bond's quippy response to Silva's advances but it clearly establishes Bond as heterosexual, unflustered by the sexual threat and thus defusing Silva's power.
  • Absolutely_CartAbsolutely_Cart NJ/NYC, United StatesPosts: 1,740MI6 Agent
    One theme which runs throughout the movies is one preservation and resistance toward change.

    With a ministry of defense and a secret agent sworn to protect Britain, there's an emphasis on keeping things the way they are. Industrialists who use technology with a vision dramatically change the world are the villains. Noble intentions (like solar power, sea/space exploration, satellite systems) are shown to be more corruptible than the tried and true. With the Cold War, missions have become more clandestine but the goal remains the same for MI6. James Bond, despite all the technology and cultural/socio-economic changes, is still James Bond.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,043MI6 Agent
    James Bond is a symbol of individuality within the system. That we can work it better if we try hard enough, and make sacrifices.
    Though clearly flawed, he is the definition of 'hero'.
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool. Craig is too.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.QOS 4.GF 5.DN/GE 6.SP 7.FRWL 8.TB/TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT
  • Timothy DaltonTimothy Dalton Posts: 14MI6 Agent
    Like nearly all great stories, Casino Royale dealt strongly with the question "Who Am I?"

    At the start of the film, Bond establishes himself as 007, but as the story progresses he begins to question this identity. The scene on the train with Vesper really deals heavily with this scene as she describes Bond as a man pretending to be something he's not, saying that he wears his suit with disdain. Vesper is ultimately the one who breaks Bond down, or as Bond himself puts it "strips him of his armor." The line in particular is telling because it suggests that Vesper has led Bond to abandon his "persona" (classic Jungian archetype), the person that he presents himself as to others. That persona is the cold-hearted yet superficially charming womanizer that Vesper pointed out on the train. So Bond becomes a new man and resigns from MI6 to spend his life with Vesper. Ultimately though, this cannot last, as Vesper ends up betraying him and he is forced to return to his job as 007. For better or worse, that is his identity.

    The final scene of the movie brings this theme full circle, and is one of the most powerful scenes in the entire series for that reason. Our hero emphatically answers the central question of the entire story by stating that he is simply "Bond, James Bond."
  • Lady IceLady Ice Posts: 262MI6 Agent
    One theme which runs throughout the movies is one preservation and resistance toward change.

    With a ministry of defense and a secret agent sworn to protect Britain, there's an emphasis on keeping things the way they are. Industrialists who use technology with a vision dramatically change the world are the villains. Noble intentions (like solar power, sea/space exploration, satellite systems) are shown to be more corruptible than the tried and true. With the Cold War, missions have become more clandestine but the goal remains the same for MI6. James Bond, despite all the technology and cultural/socio-economic changes, is still James Bond.

    Agreed. The Cold War has ended but despite the political atmosphere changing, Bond has not really acknowledged the change.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    One theme in the books, ( not so much in the movies) was how many times
    Bond depended on his own reserves of strength, Intelligence and guile.
    Many times Bond is issued with a gadget or special equipment, which later in
    The story. Is removed from him, leaving him vulnerable, so he must dig into those
    Reserves, to win through.
    I guess Fleming had worked with many agents and soldiers who had had to do the
    Same thing during the war.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • AlphaOmegaSinAlphaOmegaSin EnglandPosts: 10,924MI6 Agent
    And one of his most important Abilities is remembering Numbers, Names and Faces from the the Filling Cabinet of his Mind.
    1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    I have also used his trick of seeing a time in your head, to get up
    in the morning, and it works ! :)
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • AlphaOmegaSinAlphaOmegaSin EnglandPosts: 10,924MI6 Agent
    It never works for me :))
    1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger
  • DR NO-ahDR NO-ah AustraliaPosts: 104MI6 Agent
    I see a theme of loyalty in From Russia With Love. Both struggles to stay loyal and demonstrations of loyalty. Kerim Bey is a big believer in family and is loyal to his sons that he employs. Tania is chosen for her strict loyalty to mother Russia and struggles with that when she falls in love with Bond. Klebb's loyalty to get the job done after Kronsteens death, perhaps in fear. Spectres loyalty to avenge the death of Dr No. Bond's failure to stay loyal with Sylvia Trench always leaving her for the mission and another girl. Vavra's undying loyalty to Bond after the gypsy camp fight and to Kerim for allowing them to hide out in the camp. M perhaps being unloyal to his wife when him and Bond were in Tokyo, a scene we were robbed (saved?) of seeing!

    I would love to see if anyone else can think of more examples that fit the theme in FRWL.
    "Mango, banana and tangerine. Sugar and ackee and cocoa bean!"
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,696MI6 Agent
    In many of the Craig Bonds ( Including spectre ) seem to deal with the idea,
    of old ways being obsolete, The old mi6 building being replaced by a new high
    tech building. Technology being superior to the human element.
    In CR ans SP, similar statements are made about knowing when and when not
    to kill.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • zaphod99zaphod99 Posts: 1,405MI6 Agent
    One theme in the books, ( not so much in the movies) was how many times
    Bond depended on his own reserves of strength, Intelligence and guile.
    Many times Bond is issued with a gadget or special equipment, which later in
    The story. Is removed from him, leaving him vulnerable, so he must dig into those
    Reserves, to win through.
    I guess Fleming had worked with many agents and soldiers who had had to do the
    Same thing during the war.

    Bang on. It's a defining element of the 'hero' narrative that he must succeed by his own efforts, he can of course use tools, or even others, but he must ultimately be the source of his success.
    Of that of which we cannot speak we must pass over in silence- Ludwig Wittgenstein.
  • zaphod99zaphod99 Posts: 1,405MI6 Agent
    DR NO-ah wrote:
    I see a theme of loyalty in From Russia With Love. Both struggles to stay loyal and demonstrations of loyalty. Kerim Bey is a big believer in family and is loyal to his sons that he employs. Tania is chosen for her strict loyalty to mother Russia and struggles with that when she falls in love with Bond. Klebb's loyalty to get the job done after Kronsteens death, perhaps in fear. Spectres loyalty to avenge the death of Dr No. Bond's failure to stay loyal with Sylvia Trench always leaving her for the mission and another girl. Vavra's undying loyalty to Bond after the gypsy camp fight and to Kerim for allowing them to hide out in the camp. M perhaps being unloyal to his wife when him and Bond were in Tokyo, a scene we were robbed (saved?) of seeing!

    I would love to see if anyone else can think of more examples that fit the theme in FRWL.

    Never considered this before, but like all powerful observations once encountered one will see it everywhere. Loyalty as a theme is so large in Bond, and never more so than in the Craig era.I can see it most clearly in FRWL and YOLT. It includes loyalty to his own values as in TLD 'I only kill professionals'
    Of that of which we cannot speak we must pass over in silence- Ludwig Wittgenstein.
  • Matt SMatt S Oh Cult Voodoo ShopPosts: 6,522MI6 Agent
    In many of the Craig Bonds ( Including spectre ) seem to deal with the idea,
    of old ways being obsolete, The old mi6 building being replaced by a new high
    tech building. Technology being superior to the human element.
    In CR ans SP, similar statements are made about knowing when and when not
    to kill.

    I think you have it backwards. There's a lot of the old ways being better in Craig's films too. The old MI6 office at Vauxhall Cross is actually moved to a much older office on Whitehall. The Centre for National Security doesn't replace the old building M operates from. And there were points in SF and SP that the human element is superior to technology, not the other way around.
    Visit my blog, Bond Suits
Sign In or Register to comment.