Saturday, November 22, 2008

James Bond 007


[don't take this post too seriously. just wanted a little levity to dispel the anxiety of bad weather and bad economic news]

Just as Pope Benedict XVI cleans up the abuses proliferated by some in the Ordinary Form and restores the elegant reverence of the Extraordinary Form as a valid option, Hollywood is now reinventing and deconstructing my childhood hero, James Bond.  007 was an anchor for me in High School Seminary as I would watch every Bond movie and imagine that I was a secret agent for the Vatican on special assignment.  When you're 14 years old at the time, your imagination has to do something, doesn't it?  The old (or more accurately, TRADITIONAL James Bond) was a man's man of single purpose.  He was on a mission to save the world.  He was loyal to King and country.  He was overtly anti-Communist and had the self-confidence which made him suave and debonair.

CHRONOLOGICAL CONTINUITY. I desperately miss Q and the famous 007 gadgets, but what bothers me most is the disrupted time-line.  I can buy the premise of going back to Bond's origin and roots, but since he's been around for half a century, especially during the Cold War, why do we have the contemporary M in modern era with an adolescent 007?  Would it not have made chronological sense to set the origins BEFORE the Cold War, say immediately after WWII?  These last two movies make it seem as if there were no Bond before this one whereas the previous ones had some sort of continuity.  If these newer Bond movies are about his PAST, then they should be set in the PAST.  The public has known 007 since 1962 (a vedry good year, BTW, to be born, that is).  Sir Sean Connery, for me, is the quintessence and epitome of Bond.  My least favorite was George Lazenby then Timothy Dalton.  Sir Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan tie for second place.  The jury is still out on Daniel Craig.

Whether the KGB or SPECTRE (headed by the infamous Ernst Stavro Blofeld), the enemies of truth, justice and Great Britain are always defeated by the wit, class, ingenuity and the special devices of 007.  Now, we have a Bond who is uncouth and without toys.  It is like a religion without sacraments or doctrines.  A shell.  Satire without degenerating into sarcasm, that is what I liked about Bond's sense of humor.  Dry and witty.

I used to pretend that the theological dissidents were members of SPECTRE and that my job was to infiltrate and frustrate the enemy.  Later on in major seminary, it was more graphic to endure the theological, liturgical and moral abberations.  My real life hero then became Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn whose Gulag Archipeligo described vividly the psychological and emotional mind-games the liberals engaged in to prevent orthodox and traditional seminarians from getting ordained.

I'm grateful my other boyhood hero, Doctor Who, got back on track.  The long haitus after the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) retired in 1989 was broken in 1996 by the movie version with the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and then the much anticipated and awaited resurrected (regenerated) TV series in 2005 with the Ninth (2005) and Tenth Doctors (current) (Christopher Eccleston and David Tennnant, respectively).  Tom Baker (#4; 1974-1981) is my favorite and he, too, attended high school seminary (monastery).  Yet, I also liked the crumudgeon First Doctor (William Hartnell) and the eccentric Second (Patrick Troughton).  Jon Pertwee (#3) was just too flamboyant and a little 'light in the loafers' as we used to say.

The latest premise, however, that the Timelords are extinct from a final war with the Daleks makes no sense to me since the entite population of Gallifrey could have escaped annihilation by going backward or forward into other times and places.  I like CONTINUITY and HISTORICAL ACCURACY in my movies and television programs, even the fictional and SCI-FI.  Lack of it shows intellectual sloth, IMHO.



Dymphna said...

I like Daniel Craig very much. His Bond seems closest to the Bond of the Casino Royale novel.

Unknown said...

I agree that he is closest to the novel character in Casino Royale. It just bothers me that since that is supposed to be his BEGINNING, why is he in 2008 and what happened since 1962 when Dr No was released? If the producers and director set the scene back to post WWII era when SIS recruited the young agent James Bond, then it would make sense. Of course, Q branch would not have had the nifty gadgets of later years, HOWEVER, I've been to the SPY Museum in Washington, DC, and they have actual historical paraphernalia of Secret Service, OSS and CIA from WWII through the Cold War up unto contemporary times. Agents always had some sort of tools of the trade, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure which is a worse bastardization of the original monster from the ID: levitating Daleks or running zombies.

What made them so effective is that they simply didn't have to have that bit to be totally nightmarish and destructive. Zombies could be slow, but they were an unstoppable implacable horde of death. A similar quality is what makes Daleks so monstrous: their single-minded urge to destroy and dominate.

Sorry, the BBC and Hollywood have it wrong. Daleks don't fly and the shambling dead don't run!

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