Friday, November 17, 2006

Blond, James Blond

As a long-time fan of the novels of Ian Fleming as well as the distantly-related movie franchise based on his characters, I welcome the latest incarnation of James Bond opening tonight across the U.S.

Trivia question: who first made a dramatic portrayal of Bond?--probably not whom you think.

The early reviews of the film zero in on a manifestation of a characteristic of the novels which was hinted at in the early cinematic Connery versions and then lost in the increasingly ridiculous plot twists and gadgetry of the Roger Moore era--that James Bond as written was a borderline sociopath, a killer who was very much on the razor's edge of virtue in a morally ambiguous universe.

Fleming was entirely a product of the era of total war, and his service in military intelligence drained from him any illusion that intelligence work was anything other than the work of "rough men who stand ready to do violence."

It is worth noting that the Broccolis toyed with the harder-edged version of Bond drawn in Fleming's novels with the much-maligned Timothy Dalton editions of the franchise at the end of the Cold War, but retreated swiftly to the anodyne Pierce Brosnan when critics and audiences found Dalton's rendering too dark. I hesitate to draw firm cultural conclusions from Hollywood sausage-making, but it seems that the Broccolis have decided that the mood of the nation is now willing to reconsider its attitude towards rough men doing what needs to be done to protect the Anglospheric way of life.

Early reviews from critics suggest that the Broccolis were correct, and the weekend box office will be the proof of the pudding.

Perhaps the dissatisfaction Americans have with the use of force and violence as instruments of foreign policy, in Iraq most notably, is not with the use of force per se (which is a bugbear to many on the Left), but rather with use of force which is not focused remorselessly and relentlessly on the elimination of threats but rather on open-ended crisis-management. Staying the course in Iraq has been rejected, but the Left goes too far to assert that the Americans voted for pacificism or political appeasement of global villains who call for the annihilation of other nations "in a sea of fire" or "driving them into the sea."

1 comment:

MikeD said...

WRT Dalton, I'm still a big fan of "The Living Daylights". To me, it's second only to the early stuff: From Russia with Love, Dr. No, Goldfinger, etc. A welcome turn away from the camp Bond of Roger Moore.

WRT to America and the use of force, I have to agree. The problem isn't use of force, it's the fact that we're using force but somehow Sadr is still walking around under his own power and Sadr city isn't burning.