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James bond has survived as a franchise due to the formula: The recipe of a bond movie is consistent, with the ingredients modified to suit what is in season and keeping to the taste of the aging movie-going masses. The crème of the crops at the time, harvested and added to the dish to create a visually stunning display without the unique flavor of each constituent lost, making a coveted dish enjoyed by many. The key component, of course, is the Bond of every film, and what is a James Bond without his woman, or like most of the movies, women, which promote the plate. To examine why the servings of James Bond have become such a timeless feast, these are the core mechanisms of the recipe that will be examined and compared in 2 of the world famous Bond Movies; From Russia With Love(1963), and Casino Royale(2006), an early and late bond movie, to demonstrate in the largest possible time the changes brought to the banquet.
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Bond is an icon, a well known name, visually appealing and so is the image that comes to mind at the mention of the name. Men everywhere love him and often want to be him – but of course, these may not be for admirable reasons. Men can well identify with the character of James. In From Russia with Love, his first appearance is kissing in the embrace of a woman in underwear, and not more than 5 minutes would have passed between him getting an important job to be a hero and engaging in sexual acts in the back of a convertible. The high life, indeed. Seducing his enemy to his side, and carving yet more notches in a worn down bed-post, Bond is a suave, yet chauvinistic womanizer, with the charms and wit to make any lady friend he desires contort to his every whim. He also happens to be a snob of objects, but not people. Whilst happy to consort with Gypsies, he is more preferential to a larger bed -not for the sprawl space – to which he complains within moments of having examined his lodgings. Compensating however, Bond is skilled and well trained, evident in gun fights. Combat mastery and a sense of action is yet more appeal for the male. And not all women could be immune to his charms and wit.
Come the new Era of Bond, seen in the shift to Daniel Craig, Bond gained a significant amount of humanity. Displaying emotion, capable of love, and lacking a cold exterior, Bond has morphed to better suit the more empathetic, emotional society of the time. Falling in love with his new Bond Girl, Lynd, he is showing a more tender side, and undoubtedly, a different view on women; not a pleasure seeking endeavour, but a meaningful pursuit. Above his newer tendency to romantic notions, Bond has a more human appeal to him. Gone is his cold efficiency as an assassin; preferring to not kill, and attempt to avoid confrontation, he shows disdain for wanton waste of life. In the first film, he openly engages in a gun fight, aiming to kill the opposition even if they are not aware of him and attempting to compromise him: they want his contact in Istanbul. But come Casino Royale, soldiers attempting to kill him in an embassy are not even targeted, but incapacitated by firing upon gas tanks or other environmental hazards. Whilst still maintaining charm and wit, his intellectual capacity has also gained a more human inhibition: his judgment can be clouded by emotion and ego. Younger and less experienced in the role of the double 0, Bond allows trust and emotional attachment to prevent him from making the best choices. Unaware of the double-crosser in his midst, even after a snide comment from his foe, he allows his ego to control his actions at the table and dictate whether he will call a bluff from Le Chiffre’s tell, the same tell he reported to only one person. And yet with that person being the only one informed, the Bond loses believing himself to be calling a bluff. Having signs of humanity that dictate his course of action and apply a more appealing side to the nature of the character, he has become more accessible and likable to the more matured audience of cinema. With females more integrated into society and given more rights, they too may enjoy the leisure of a film, but not as they would in 1963. As such it is evident Bond changes to reflect the times he lives in.
As the times changed, and acceptable treatment of women with it, the Bond films have yet again adapted; whilst they still maintain the long running theme of bond girls, their representation has changed to meet the social norm. In 5 minutes of From Russia with Love, enough interaction with women will have set the tone for the whole movie. Women are held as sexual objects in the opening sequence, as exotic dancers in tight, revealing clothing, shaking emphasized bodies and belly dancing to maintain an interesting opening sequence. This shows a disregard to women, and a very standard way to decipher the demographic was indeed entirely male. Women would not have approved of seeing the body objectified in such a way, but with little voice amongst the oppressive masculine society, no changes would be needed. Klehb has risen to some level of power in an organization – not by hard work and dedication but through treachery and betrayal, a defection – but not praised for reaching such a level. Despite having some status, she is still ordered and bossed about by a male megalomaniac and a subordinate, Kronsteen – that is, she is ranked at #3 and he is #5. He still has authority over her, despite lower ranking and #1 still places more faith in the work of his male officer. This shows disregard for whether a women is low or high in status, the value on them is minimal and of course shows a lack of respect for women.
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Casino Royale is perhaps the 1st Bond film a woman can freely enjoy, as the content has been altered to permit it as such. Including a touch of romance and a more equal representation of women the movie has severed ties for the better part of its chauvinistic history. The table at Casino Royale features female players; the fancy bar housing the tournament also shows women walking freely around demonstrating high class or social status, without male accompaniment. The closest depiction of women reminiscent of the older films is Bond attempting to seduce the wife of a target he needs to gather information from. Such a play would be held as part of the job, not insight to or preference to the treatment of the opposite gender. There is little to be remarked upon in the representation of women in Casino Royale beyond this, as it shows exactly what it should; there is no remarkable difference between how men and women act or may be able to act, as the movie depicts gender equality and realistic opportunity for both genders. It’s a perfectly normal vision of life and implies a dramatic change from the old sexually prejudiced ways of people, as evident in From Russia with Love.
For James Bond as a franchise to survive the times the formula of Bond has adapted and changed with age, to reflect not only what the audience wants but what they want within the realms of what is defined as socially acceptable. As such, Bond himself is a bi-product of his times reflecting the values and attitudes of what people find desirable in a character. Witty, charming and sophisticated have been the mainstay, but by current times it has added emotional depth, expression and humanity.
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