Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bond Reformed

The latest dish of the Broccoli family’s James Bond Franchise "Casino Royale" has met with mixed reviews from many people. Time says Daniel Craig's depiction of 007 is "all body but no soul". Some Bond "purists" have welcomed this Bond reformation. The movie is as close as one can get to the Ian Fleming novel according to them. To the rubbish bin went Moneypenny, Q and his gadgets but of course the vodka martini remained and later on Bond will stick to that shaken not stirred.

Film scholars at the University (Yes. There are academics who study film and they have students who do the same) recently told me that the James Bond movies can now be considered "cult films" since they have an almost religious following. In fact the non Broccoli Bond film” Never Say Never" is considered a "heresy"! And proof of the franchise's longevity is the long queue of senior citizens who bought tickets for the screening. The teens also bought theirs, the middle aged men and their wives bought theirs. Need I say more?

For those used to seeing a Bond with the silhouette girls (which started with From Russia with Love) they will be disappointed. The Reformation smashed this icon and replaced it with less sexist CGI animation of the Queen of Hearts, Jack of Whatever. The Reformation also did in Moneypenny's ripostes and Bond's hats... Ooops hats went out with fashion with Roger Moore. The Reformation did in memorable villains and their henchmen like Goldfinger and Odd Job. Blofeld and his cat, Hugo Drax and Jaws etc. While in recent Bonds, the sultry female voice for the theme returned and then went away with Madonna, the newest rock genre theme doesn't mention the title of the movie at all. Bond rock title songs started with McCartney's Live and Let Die then by Duran Duran's View to a Kill and then by Madonna Die another Day.

The post Cold War milieu made M from being a man into a woman. But feminism had made its presence felt in the Bond films as early as in Goldfinger with Pussy Galore able to pilot a jet plane (female commercial pilots were almost unheard of then) In the 1970s Bond women became very assertive characters and were meant to be equal to Bond even in bed. Women also started to assume professions once reserved for men (some being astronauts with a PhD). M's gender change is just the last of this transformation.

This postmodern Bond is also psychological. If you are not Poker literate, you will get bored. Thus the movie had to have a poker "explainer", Bond’s Italian contact. Since poker is really a psychological crunch game, Casino Royale is really heavy on the psyche. Le Chiffre as torturer is more psychological than physical although Bond is in the nude in this scene. Some reviewers have written that this scene brought shades of Abu Graib.

But the biggest question is: "Will Barbara Broccoli remake all the Bonds from Dr No onwards?" We know that The Reformation tried to remake Christendom with mixed results. Will this reformation remake the franchise? Well it seems that is the intention. Now we wonder how far Ms Broccoli will go with this. With all reformations, some people will stay loyal to the old faith, while some will welcome the new.

Of course this might give Mike Myers new material for an Austin Powers spoof.

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