Analysing James Bond

Warning! If you haven´t yet seen the movie, "Skyfall", this post may give away elements of the plot you may not wish to know beforehand. 

Finally, we got our act together and went to see the new Bond movie. We don´t go to the movies as much any more, but have always, always seen Bond at the theatres first, ever since we memorably saw our first Bond together at the theatre in Leicester Square in London. That was" Golden Eye", the first adventure with Pierce Brosnan as Bond. It was also Judi Dench´s first time as M. At the time, they played it like she was the one having to prove herself to him, being the misogynistic "dinosaur" of the old ways. 

I liked Brosnan very much as Bond, I think he was the most natural Bond of them all. I am of the Roger Moore-generation, and he was very much known in Sweden at the time for doing "The Persuaders" with Tony Curtis. We loved that show, and to us there seemed to be little difference between Bond and Lord Brett Sinclair. You expected Moore´s Bond to have an Eton tie always tucked away in his luggage. Apparently Ian Fleming made Bond Scottish after he had been played by Sean Connery on film. Which brings me back to the latest Bond movie: "Skyfall".

Of course, Bond never plays by the rules.*
Everyone has their own favourite Bond-villain (and their own favourite Bond-girl, perhaps), and Bond-villains should be grandiose megalomaniacs with super-weapons, trying to take control of the entire world, alternatively bring it to an end. A classic Bond-film climax should have an alarm going off, signalling an imminent explosion, walls falling in, flooding and fire at the same time, bad guys falling over and dying all around, while Bond brings himself and the Girl to safety. (Then Bond must prioritize calming the girl by petting her, before he reports back to M. And everyone thinks he´s such a lad.) I liked Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan/Janus, because he was like the anti-Bond. I also liked Isabella Scorupco as Simonova, because she was clever. (And she is Swedish. But so is Maud Adams, she is even from my town, and I didn´t much care for Octopussy at all.)

This time, the villain is another anti-Bond. In fact, he is not after the world at all, he is after M. M, as in Mother, this time. Bond is practically being psychoanalysed, I think, and the mother/son-relationship-seed was sown already with Daniel Craig´s first Bond-film, Dench being by that time well established as M and Craig being the new, young guy having to prove himself. (Remember the hate from some of the fans?)

First, he is metaphorically torn from M´s breast by herself, being deemed expendable in action. Everyone thinks he is dead, but he is really just sulking on a beach in Turkey. Until M is under attack, when he comes rushing back. Turns out, the bad guy is another sulking ex-agent, another favourite she had to sacrifice for the greater good of British/World safety, but one who took it personally. Well, turns out Bond can be personal, too. He whisks M away, as she can clearly not protect herself anymore, brings her to his old, deserted castle in Scotland, where she is humanised and given a makeshift name by his father´s old caretaker, Kincade, who thinks "M" means Emma. We are never, as far as I can remember, told what M´s real name is. In this film, she states that she is a widow, but it seems unlikely that she has children (considering her career) and this reinforces the idea that she tends to create this mother/son-bond with some of her agents. She says to Bond in one scene, that "orphans make the best agents".

It´s all so mythological it´s almost funny. Now the threesome, father-figure, mother-figure, and son, prepare for battle, on a string, but with a twist. There is much symbolism here, if you are inclined towards Jungian analysis. Water, for example, as a medium for death and rebirth. Old houses for old Selfs, hidden cellars/priestholes for tucked-away trauma and subconscious metamorphosis, animus/anima-symbolism, cleansing fires. And in the end, an inverted pietà, with Bond himself as the Mother-figure. (No, Bond is not the new M!)

This film is in many ways a reset, a return to the old ways. M is once again a man, Moneypenny and Q are reintroduced (thank god there is no more R, who was the Jar Jar Binks of the Bond universe), Bond is again a middle-aged, mature man who can take care of himself. All is well with the world, even though underneath, everything is changed. I feel reassured, actually. Perhaps it´s all that psychoanalysis talking to my subconsious. Also, there is a satisfying amount of ass-kicking, which a good Bond-film should have. I recommend you all to see it, if you haven´t already. See it a second time. I think I will.

My husband is also a great Bond fan (they share initials and both look good in a suit, clearly they are soulmates), and he actually once took me on a weeks vacation to Nassau. "Nassau?" I asked. "Where is that?" "I have no idea", he said, "but Bond was there, so it must be all right." Well, the tickets were booked, we ended up on this wonderful beach, which turned out to be the exact strip of beach where, supposedly, Craig-Bond goes for a swim in those iconic blue swimming trunks (in "Casino Royal"). Paradise Island, it is called. Except we bathed there twelve years before Craig did. On exactly which beach Connery and Andress bathed I don´t know (as the British Secret Service didn´t have mega-computers and digital satellite systems then), but if they hadn´t, nor would we have.

Bond is an icon of the modern world. In an age where so much change has and is happening: technologically, socially, psychologically (some even argue that we are living in the middle of an evolutionary leap), Bond is you (and me), the little guy who is again and again faced with the end of the world as he knows it, but who, through his wits, bloody-mindedness, and a little help from his friends, will come out of it, perhaps not unscathed, but alive and kicking. We all need a bit of Bond in our lives. 

*Photo was taken by my husband on a visit to Kelvedon Hatch.


  1. This was a thorough analysis. I was born in 1979, but consider myself of the Moore era because he was Bond when Bond entered my consciousness (Mancherster, '87). I loved Moore as Bond and am bemused that, as an adult, his films are generally considered the weakest of the lot. (I refuse to re-watch his Bond films as an adult because I don't want my childhood memories tarnish. Ha.) That said, I love Craig as Bond. I thought Brosnan was too macho. Bond is supposed to be, for lack of a better term, an alpha-metrosexual. I suppose Craig broods machismo himself, but his demeanour just seems softer to me. Anyway. When the car was blown up and they played the drop I almost fell out of my chair with glee.

    1. You are probably right in refusing to go back to the Moore-films. They are not as adult, more on the funny side.

      You know, when they announced Craig was the new Bond, I said hurra! to myself and to everyone else: "just you wait, now we are going to see the NAKED Bond!" Every single film I had seen with Craig, he took his clothes off. And I was not wrong, haha! Had to see it three times, while it was in the theatres...

    2. Oh, and yes, I totally know which blow-up-car-moment you mean! I had to squeeze the guy next to me!