With only days until the US release of Spectre, Ryan reflects on the James Bond franchise’s role in his life.
“Do you expect me to talk?”
Alright. Here goes.
I don’t know when it started, or how.
Memory is always a tricky thing, but I want to say my first Bond experience was with one of Sean Connery’s films. Goldfinger? You Only Live Twice? Diamonds are Forever? The gut says one of those.
James Bond was a near 40-year-old property when I was born. I came into life between Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan’s incarnations. I have vague memories of GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies coming out, but Bond was not on my radar.
The pre-teen to teen transition stage (also known as puberty) was a turning point. My first Bond movie in a theater was Die Another Day (I know…). My father took me, and knowing him he fell asleep during the movie.
I started to care more about the films; seeking them out on cable TV when I could.
I started collecting the books, too. My parents were kind enough to endure (and finance) this. All of Ian Fleming’s Bond books, Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis/Robert Markham, the John Gardner series, and Raymond Benson’s series were all mine at one point. Heck, I even bought the “Young Bond” book Silverfin from the local Borders bookstore. Sadly, that Borders closed in 2011.
The awkward teenage years seem to be the time when people “find” James Bond. Nick’s reflection supports that, as do the stories told on the James Bonding podcast. Hosts Matt Mira and Matt Gourley and many of their guests tell how their fathers, family, or friends introduced them to 007.
In this sense, James Bond is a rite of passage — not for everyone, but for some. 007 is an introduction to action, violence, sex, and seduction. As a piece of popular culture, it’s something to be shared and handed down.
Every film is a document that says something about the technology, society, culture, and industry in which it was created. Movies aren’t strict history, but we can indeed learn things from them and experience some forms of truth. For example, many of the Connery and Roger Moore Bond films play heavily on Cold War anxieties. Not to mention they also showcase horrible 1960s-era sexism — case in point. Likewise, Skyfall had undertones of cyber attack and hacking fears that are prevalent today.
With the franchise’s rich and often goofy history, we ought to have plenty to share with the next generations.
As for me, let me put it this way. Whenever I hear the James Bond Theme, I’m filled with such childlike joy, taken to another time and place. I envision myself as Bond, slowly walking through an airport in Dr. No. The music makes you feel cool, suave.
If we had to distill it all down to one thing, perhaps it’s that. James Bond is cool, and it makes us feel cool.