Boyd Hilton of the G2 diary and First World War specialist David Bump, explain the effect – and future prospects – of two new Bond movies.
It is partly because of the advance publicity that people are interested in the world of James Bond, as opposed to 50 years ago, when in the public consciousness he was what was described as a ‘pocket hero’. He’s dead, but has he been reincarnated? Has he been written into the next Bond?
The technology in this latest 007 movie is leaps and bounds ahead of any other Bond movie. Not only has the latest version of the camera film not been recycled from other films but the camera filming the action sequences was assembled on behalf of the film, so it allowed for the 3D technology being applied, at long last, to the spy’s world.
The huge insurance payment received by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the event of Sir Ian Fleming’s death, the only time this had been necessary to insure a James Bond film, was included in the advance publicity to persuade the public to see the new film.
The new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, has become a battle between two main contenders for commercial supremacy. Quantum of Solace and the third and next most profitable Bond film, Die Another Day, revolve around the chequered history of Bond’s adventures. Their campaigns are fought with a lumbering sense of force rather than the cool confidence of past Bonds.
The Bond films have always been about more than the cold war in Europe. They’ve always been about spies and conspiracy and fiendish. Quantum of Solace will show how Bond, although no longer alive, is involved in the murky conspiracies of the future.
Here in Britain we can be assured that Bond will always be English and British, since this film is a sequel to Skyfall, released in 2012. The release date for Quantum of Solace has been repeatedly postponed because of MGM’s financial problems.
Mr Bond is of course back in action in very British matters, like the impending general election, the Brexit referendum and the “foreigner” turn taken by Tory politicians. The newspaper of record, the Daily Telegraph, in its Monday edition, launches a deliberate campaign to take the unique patriotic advantage of a British head of state. The death of Prince Philip has sparked a series of articles from some of the commentators of the Telegraph.
The strategy to take the benefit of what has happened to Philip in the past week is to suggest that the British government is behaving like Mussolini, invoking Brexit under the guise of making the country more secure.
MGM must be hoping that they can persuade the British public to vote for Brexit because the market for the movies will be greater if Britain leaves the EU.
The question of the value of the new Bond films is bound to be answered in the balance of what is likely to be a long winter of discontent, which was sparked by Brexit. Certainly Bond has not had such a great run for some years. The 2001 Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, was the first Bond since Die Another Day to be opened in Britain to below-expectation box office takings.
If it is a reminder of the future, then Skyfall has become the most successful Bond film ever. But if Bond is a footnote in the history of Britain as a trading nation, the impact could be negligible.