Some honesty, upfront: I am not much of a Bond fan. Both in the sense that I haven’t seen a lot of Bond, and in that I’m not hugely keen on what I have seen. Unlike many of my friends, I didn’t grow up watching old Bond films, so they don’t even have nostalgic appeal for me. But I recognise that for many people, they offer just the right kind of escapist entertainment.
The release of a new Bond film is a major cultural event, and it’s well worth pausing to ask why. Here are some questions to reflect on as Spectre, ostensibly Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond, hits cinemas.
I think that a convincing case can now be made for James Bond having become a religion.- Author Simon Winder
- In your view, what gives the James Bond franchise its enduring appeal? The first of Ian Fleming’s novels was published in 1953, and it’s been more than 50 years since Sean Connery first appeared onscreen as the iconic spy. Why have the films been so popular for so long? What are some of the highlights – and lowlights – of the series for you?
- How has each version of Bond reflected the tastes and concerns of his era? Each new Bond is slightly different, and these differences reflect the changing times. What might Daniel Craig’s Bond tell us about the time we’re living through now?
- How do you feel when you watch James Bond in action? What reassurances does the character offer, and what vicarious thrills does he allow an audience to experience? Is he a ‘likeable’ character, and does this matter?
Are we capable of living? Can we deal with what reality throws in our way? Can we overcome the obstacles that lie between us and the values we want to achieve?
In the character of James Bond, we experience the answer as “Damn right we can – and how!” – Journalist David Gulbraa
- What could the popularity of Bond tell us about masculinity in our culture? In what ways could Bond be viewed as a ‘masculine ideal’, and what do you make of this ideal? How do you react to the treatment of women in Bond films?
- What was your reaction to Spectre, and how does it fit into the Bond canon? How does the film draw on Bond’s cinematic legacy, and does it attempt anything new or original? What conclusions does it draw about the value of the human element in a world driven by information and technology?