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Topic: Subtext and themes

Let me say upfront that I know James Bond adventures are not meant to be deep and meaningful- anyone who's seen MR would know that. They are there to be enjoyed first and foremost.
Nevertheless, there are some themes in there which enrich them- if one is interested enough. The book "Bond Films" (Virgin, 2002) by Jim Smith and Stephen Lavington touches on a few of these, and I'm hoping this thread can elaborate on their observations.

In another thread http://www.ajb007.co.uk/topic/44113/my- … ws/page/5/ I mentioned that FYEO has a subtext about aging, including Bond himself. For example, the very young Bibi rejects Kristatos as being too old, but throws herself at Bond, who politely rejects her as being too young.  Perhaps ironically, Julian Glover is a good few years younger than Roger Moore in real life although his character is meant to be older. Tied in with this is the theme of revenge- specifically the possible uselessness of it- not only Melina's desire to avenge her parents but the whole Columbo/Kristatos simmering rivalry which dates back entire decades. I could point out more details (such as Jacoba Brink and her role) but would be happier if others could contribute.

As a relatively serious entry in the film series, it isn't too surprising that FYEO should have relatively serious themes (and of course these trace back, at least partially, to the Fleming short stories it was based on). What is surprising is that DAF should have a theme. It's one of the weaker Bond movies (much as I love it, I do have to admit that) and is usually held to be light and silly. The theme here is doubles/pairs and the list is endless. Blofeld employs two pairs of two assassins/bodyguards (Wint and Kidd. Bambi and Thumper), he doubles as Willard Whyte, there are two sets of diamonds, Bond doubles as Peter Franks, Blofeld creates doubles of himself.... you get the idea. Or perhaps the theme is falseness? Bond is a false Franks, Blofeld a false Whyte, one set of diamonds is false, Bond kills a false Blofeld (twice!), the moon walk is false....

OHMSS is about snobbery and titles. The two main characters (aside from Bond himself) are a man who wants to be a Count and a woman who doesn't want to be a Countess- she'd rather be Mrs James Bond. In her book "The Devil With James Bond!" (Knox, 1967), Ann S. Boyd draws parallels with Bond's villains and the Seven Deadly Sins- this story is her example of Pride. Obviously, Goldfinger is the representative of avarice- his greed for gold is the mainspring of the plot.

Smith and Lavington claim that LALD is about masks and personae- the most obvious example being Mr Big/Kananga of course. I'm not sure I 100% agree with that, but it's there if one looks for it.

Okay, there are a few examples. I'm happy to be shot down if anyone disagrees (Silhouette Man, this is very much your area) but would be even happier for us to discuss other examples- I could go on, especially with SF which is rich in subtext, but would like to open this up.

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Re: Subtext and themes

I'm not going to be any help on this one, as I only
Found out today that Patrice's gun was built into a
Briefcase.  ajb007/lol  if I couldn't  see that, I have no chance
Of seeing any subtle subtext or themes.  ajb007/biggrin

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: Subtext and themes

You underestimate yourself, TP. It's all there if you look for it!

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Re: Subtext and themes

First off - excellent thread, Barbel.  ajb007/martini

I find the subtexts and themes fascinating. One of my favourites is the theme of Betrayal which runs through Goldeneye. It's as though, in the aftermath of the Cold War, nothing is quite what it seems anymore - nothing and no-one can be trusted.

Bond is betrayed by Trevelyan, Natalya is betrayed by Boris.
Bond says to Ouromov, "What has he promised you, this Coassack? You knew, didn't you? He's a Lienz Cossack... he'll betray you. Just like everyone else".
And of course, the British Government betrayed the Lienz Cossacks in the Second World War.

Is there also a sense that Bond betrays Trevelyan? "I knew that 007's loyalty was always to the mission, never to his friends". Of course, we know better: 007 would never betray his country - but he's prepared to drop his friends. Literally, in the case of Trevelyan.  ajb007/lol

"How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."

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Re: Subtext and themes

Nice one, C&D. Betrayal, who to trust, it's there all right.

I wonder if there's another theme hiding in GE, too, just a hint of "is 007 out of date in the 90s?"- to which the obvious answer is "of course not"! ajb007/lol

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Re: Subtext and themes

Excellent thread Barbel, but IMO you are overinterpreting things.

There is a common example in Germany which shows, that 2 isolated observations don't necessarily have something to do with each other:

Observation nr1: The populaion of Stork birds is decreasing for years in Germany
Observation nr.2: The birth rate  in Germany drops since years

So one could say from these observations, that the falling birth rate is caused by the increasingly absence of stork birds (which are said to bring the babies).

http://t2.ftcdn.net/jpg/00/48/51/75/400_F_48517570_YHjst41uJxehdNWosWBGG1inbO8K6hjU.jpg

The entire "too old" "too young" theme in FYEO IMO had a much more simple reason:
To mock on Jimmy Bond's image to lay every chick in his presence within seconds. Roger Moore once said that it's hilarious that the baddies in his movies don't know the name "James Bond" while in the real western world every kid knows that he is a british secret agent.

Rejecting Bibi may be in the same context - just smiling to the audience "you know - he'd usually join her in a second but the entire scene is so absurd in real life that we do something different".

So, yes, there are certain "age" points in FYEO, but in my opinion, they have no real connection in a larger scheme.

Last edited by Higgins (20th Aug 2014 08:27)

President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.
-------Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!------
FIRST TO DISCOVER substantial evidence that Chew Mee is in fact not totally nude in the TMWTGG pool scenes!

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Re: Subtext and themes

Barbel wrote:

Nice one, C&D. Betrayal, who to trust, it's there all right.

I wonder if there's another theme hiding in GE, too, just a hint of "is 007 out of date in the 90s?"- to which the obvious answer is "of course not"! ajb007/lol

Hmmm, wonder if the Dalton Movies make a nod to NSNA: Tears of Allah   ajb007/biggrin

President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.
-------Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!------
FIRST TO DISCOVER substantial evidence that Chew Mee is in fact not totally nude in the TMWTGG pool scenes!

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Re: Subtext and themes

Thanks Higgins. Yes, I may be overinterpreting but IMHO it's worth going into just for fun.
The English equivalent to your saying would roughly be "Two swallows do not a summer make".  I'm sure there is a bit of coincidence involved (or is there...?) but much of it is surely intentional. There are other examples to cite and points to make, but I'd rather others get involved than me make lists.

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Re: Subtext and themes

Wow - I'm amazed - "AJB in good thread shocker  ajb007/amazed

Great observations by all - except Higgins of course  ajb007/shifty  ajb007/lol

Seriously - great thread  ajb007/martini

YNWA: Justice For The 96

The Joy Of 6

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Re: Subtext and themes

Thank you, Sir Miles! ajb007/smile

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Barbel wrote:

Thank you, Sir Miles! ajb007/smile

I know - high praise indeed coming from me  ajb007/biggrin

YNWA: Justice For The 96

The Joy Of 6

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" Coincidence ! I don't believe in them !".  ajb007/lol
I do think perhaps even subconsciously when a script is being
Worked on some themes will work their way in. In the cases
Mentioned by Barbel, there seem too many to be mere coincidence.  ajb007/biggrin

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: Subtext and themes

Sir Miles wrote:

Great observations by all - except Higgins of course  ajb007/shifty  ajb007/lol

In a fast-changing world there must be consistency.
And I am happy to provide these spiritual anchors  ajb007/biggrin

President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.
-------Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!------
FIRST TO DISCOVER substantial evidence that Chew Mee is in fact not totally nude in the TMWTGG pool scenes!

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Re: Subtext and themes

Higgins wrote:
Sir Miles wrote:

Great observations by all - except Higgins of course  ajb007/shifty  ajb007/lol

In a fast-changing world there must be consistency.
And I am happy to provide these spiritual anchors  ajb007/biggrin

I'd be happy if you were consistent in your watch choices !  ajb007/shifty

YNWA: Justice For The 96

The Joy Of 6

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Re: Subtext and themes

The word certainly rhymes with Anchor !   ajb007/lol    ajb007/tongue   ajb007/wink

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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The Cold War was a fascinating, but dangerous Period in History  ajb007/martini

1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger

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Re: Subtext and themes

AlphaOmegaSin wrote:

The Cold War was a fascinating, but dangerous Period in History  ajb007/martini

A theme of many movies at the time, and even a few later. The Bond film which features that most prominently is FRWL, of course.

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Of course  ajb007/wink

1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger

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..... and thanks to Putin and his mates, we're entering the second Cold War !  ajb007/crap

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: Subtext and themes

Okay, no-one's prepared to step forward with the honourable exception of Charmed & Dangerous who put up some interesting points about GE. So, it's back to me.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

The film is ostensibly about the Cold War, as AlphaOmegaSin hinted above. The theme, though, is sex. (Got your attention?  ajb007/biggrin )

The most obvious example here is Bond being obliged to sleep with Tania as part of a plot forced on the two of them by their respective governments (in the book, she is under the direct orders of Mother Russia- in the film, she only thinks so.) Bond is attracted by Tania- who wouldn't be?- but is reluctant to, in Fleming's choice phrase, "pimp for England". She reluctantly goes along with her orders. Once they see each other, though, the orders are stuffed (cf TLD) and they truly are drawn together. A genuine attraction keeps them together for the rest of the story, apart from one instance where Bond doubts her after the death of Kerim and viciously slaps her.

James and Tania are presented as the central, "normal" couple and are contrasted with the other main characters surrounding them. Klebb is shown as a repulsive lesbian (hard to miss that), Grant is a psychotic asexual who achieves satisfaction through killing (much more of this in the book), Kerim has irrepressible sexual appetites (exactly how many sons does he have? "Biggest family payroll in Turkey"). The gypsy girl fight is there for the audiences's voyeuristic pleasure- again, the book scores higher than the film here. Terence Young has been quoted as saying to Fleming "Exactly how do you expect me to get that past the censors?!". The confrontation between Grant and Bond is heavy with symbolism- male/male dominance/submission primarily. Tania's having to choose between shooting Klebb and Bond at the end speaks for itself.

All Bond stories, by which I mean novels and films, have sex as a strong element. I suggest that only in FRWL is it the main theme of the story, ie the story would not exist without it. DN would work without Honey, GF without Pussy, etc. IMHO the only other Bond story which compares with FRWL in the strong sexual theme, and I know I'm going to get flack for this, is TWINE- and that has its own themes/subtext to deal with (Elektra is called Elektra for a reason, you know!).

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Re: Subtext and themes

Barbel wrote:

Okay, no-one's prepared to step forward with the honourable exception of Charmed & Dangerous who put up some interesting points about GE. So, it's back to me.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

The film is ostensibly about the Cold War, as AlphaOmegaSin hinted above. The theme, though, is sex. (Got your attention?  ajb007/biggrin )

The most obvious example here is Bond being obliged to sleep with Tania as part of a plot forced on the two of them by their respective governments (in the book, she is under the direct orders of Mother Russia- in the film, she only thinks so.) Bond is attracted by Tania- who wouldn't be?- but is reluctant to, in Fleming's choice phrase, "pimp for England". She reluctantly goes along with her orders. Once they see each other, though, the orders are stuffed (cf TLD) and they truly are drawn together. A genuine attraction keeps them together for the rest of the story, apart from one instance where Bond doubts her after the death of Kerim and viciously slaps her.

James and Tania are presented as the central, "normal" couple and are contrasted with the other main characters surrounding them. Klebb is shown as a repulsive lesbian (hard to miss that), Grant is a psychotic asexual who achieves satisfaction through killing (much more of this in the book), Kerim has irrepressible sexual appetites (exactly how many sons does he have? "Biggest family payroll in Turkey"). The gypsy girl fight is there for the audiences's voyeuristic pleasure- again, the book scores higher than the film here. Terence Young has been quoted as saying to Fleming "Exactly how do you expect me to get that past the censors?!". The confrontation between Grant and Bond is heavy with symbolism- male/male dominance/submission primarily. Tania's having to choose between shooting Klebb and Bond at the end speaks for itself.

All Bond stories, by which I mean novels and films, have sex as a strong element. I suggest that only in FRWL is it the main theme of the story, ie the story would not exist without it. DN would work without Honey, GF without Pussy, etc. IMHO the only other Bond story which compares with FRWL in the strong sexual theme, and I know I'm going to get flack for this, is TWINE- and that has its own themes/subtext to deal with (Elektra is called Elektra for a reason, you know!).

I've always been surprised by how many sexual references there are as well in the story. For instance, Tania says, " Thank you, but I think my mouth is too big." "No, it's the right size...for me that us." Is he talking about his...

Or when Bond visits Kerim Bey after the bomb goes off. "The girl left in hysterics." "Found your technique too violent?" I mean for 1963, I'm surprised they got away with as much as they did.

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Also, there's a lot of trains sliding in and out of tunnels !  ajb007/biggrin

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Is that a Euphemism  TP?  ajb007/lol

1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger

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Re: Subtext and themes

No, they're all diesel electric these days.  ajb007/biggrin

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Times have changed  ajb007/lol

1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger