Big on Bond: Why 007 delights to this day

By August Carriuolo |

I make it no secret that I’m a huge James Bond. As a moviegoer, I simply love every facet of the character. That roguish demeanor, his witty humor, and his inextinguishable sense of confidence in the face of overwhelming odds; these are a mere few of the myriad of reasons the Bond character continues to delight myself and audiences worldwide to this day.

With 2012 being the 50th anniversary of James Bond, I thought I’d share some of the reasons why I revere the character. His incomparable knack for creating escapism from everyday life has continued to galvanize fans to this day; as well as providing a foundation for the films of today and an appreciation for the medium as a whole.

Being an international icon of film, it may come as a surprise that Bond’s origins trace back to literary roots rather than the movie theater. Ian Fleming, the author of James Bond was a British serviceman enlisted in the Navy during World War II. During his career in the military, he became the personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence; a profession which would later influence a great deal of his writing, for many of the plots written in the original twelve novels were heavily inspired by Fleming’s firsthand experiences.

During his lifetime, Fleming published twelve Bond novels starting with “Casino Royale,” along with a two short story collections that also featured the Bond character. He lived to witness the financial success of the first two films “Dr. No” and “From Russia With Love” before tragically passing away from a severe heart attack. While Fleming may have passed away, his legacy has lived on.

He was once interviewed regarding the initial concept for creating James Bond. During the interview he was quoted saying, “When I wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument, when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, James Bond is the dullest name I ever heard.”

A rather ironic statement since the James Bond persona has become one of the most widely recognized, and heavily emulated personalities, in nearly every medium of fiction and entertainment. Fast cars, cool gadgets, beautiful women, and clever one-liners; these may seem like traditional clichés used in everyday movie-making, yet in truth they’ve come into popularity due to the success of the Bond character. Even famous directors such as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were influenced by Bond when conceiving the popular character Indiana Jones; hence Connery was cast as Jones’s father as an homage in “The Last Crusade.”

It’s no secret that the James Bond series is one of the longest running film franchises in history. Whereas most long-running film series lose their steam and become stale after a slew of lackluster sequels, Bond has continued to galvanize his audiences all the way from the 60s til this very day. The success of these films and their continued appeal is due to the franchise’s ability to evolve with the times while still maintaining style and identity of its iconic protagonist.

Compare the films “Dr. No” and “Goldeneye.” Thirty-three years of change have gone by in regards to filmmaking and pop-culture, yet James Bond remains the same charismatic figure he was in the early 60s. Even with the gritty and more realistic rendition of Bond in the latest Daniel Craig films, the studio hasn’t lost sight of why audiences love the character.

The success of James Bond and his place among the greatest film and literary characters in history is attributed to a number of different aspects. There will never be another character that can exude the same form of gravitas and appeal towards both male and female audiences. Others have attempted to emulate the formula, yet none have ever reached the status or success of James Bond.

The franchise’s ability to evolve with the times has done a great deal in reflecting the current contemporary feel and popular culture of their times while appealing to the modern-day moviegoers of the current generation. With the record-shattering success of “Skyfall” at the international box office, it’s safe to say that James Bond still has that old magic that continues to galvanize audiences to this very day. He may be old, but this old dog still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

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