Bond, James Bond – a name globally recognised, and a character who embodies all thing dangerous, mysterious, and oh-so English. It seems Bond mania is sweeping the nation, as it was recently reported by the BBC that ‘Skyfall’ has had the biggest Bond opening weekend of all time. Bond is a character loved by all, even those who may never have watched a single Bond film in their lives. His legacy is unrivalled, and the release of ‘Skyfall’ marks the anniversary of 50 years of Bond.
The concept of Bond was birthed by the brilliant Ian Fleming, a London gentleman born in 1908 and educated at Eton. Cutting a rather dashing figure himself, Fleming’s official website states that during World War II he worked as assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence in the Admiralty in London, “privy to many secrets”. Unsurprisingly, Fleming drew upon his experiences as source of inspiration to create James Bond, and it could even be suggested upon examination of photos of Fleming as a young man that he based the classic James Bond looks upon himself.
In 1952, from the comfort of his home in Jamaica, Fleming wrote his first novel, ‘Casino Royale’ in no more than two months. From there, he went on to write thirteen more books. Fortunately for Fleming, he lived to see the incredible success of his character, even going so far as to see Sean Connery portray James Bond in the 1960s.
There have been six men of mystery to date: Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and perhaps the lesser-known George Lazenby. Sean Connery, according to the BBC, is the biggest bond earner, clocking up a cool $4.5 billion during his time in the role. Another well-recognised Bond is Brosnan, who was granted the role in 007 in 1995, after missing out in 1987, and is believed to have played an important role in re-energising the series after a six-year hiatus. The thing these Bonds have in common was their close resemblance to Fleming’s original Bond – tall, dark and handsome. However, Daniel Craig is the first blonde actor to ever play Bond, re-inventing the well-known character with his own composed, irresistible charm and impeccable poker-face.
The face of Bond may have changed over the years, but his personality has remained the same, especially those traits which are deemed to be quintessentially English. An article in the Guardian reported a study in which it was stated that “across the board, wit and cleverness were considered a very British trait” by other countries; two things that James Bond has in excess, alongside his charismatic charm and gentlemanly posture.
Interestingly, James Bond is not appreciated by all as a literary and silver screen sensation, as the series of films popularised over recent years has also caused controversy. Russian film critic Valery Kichin writes in the Telegraph that “From Russia with Love was considered “anti-Soviet” and Bond himself was tainted in the eyes of the Communist authorities”, the idea of an Englishman beating down the Russian baddies was clearly not one which promoted Russian superiority under Soviet rule.
Despite this, overall the role of James Bond has been a largely positive one. He is a character that has inspired many other authors to try and continue Fleming’s legacy, and has paved the way for countless films, breath-taking soundtracks and enabled young, relatively unknown actors such as Sean Connery and Daniel Craig to become global superstars and devastatingly handsome secret spies; destined to combat evil with suave sophistication, and accompany the Queen on her many plane-jumping jaunts.