The Image of James Bond in the Films Series
The film industry is an unusual artistic activity, which involves the process of creation of new worlds, often imaginary, and gradual transmission of the viewers into these worlds by different professional means. The creation of the final product is the process of the collaboration of various professionals such as scriptwriters, composers, actors, directors, producers, and other. As a result even is the films present similar events or involve a plot with similar protagonists, they may present totally different pieces where there is almost no connection between the main ideas and images. This paper is devoted to the comparative critical analysis of the films that involve a similar protagonist but divided by the timeline of approximately fifty years. These pictures are Goldfinger, which was released in 1964, and Skyfall dated 2012, where the main events involve the professional activity of James Bond, a super spy that serves to the UK. The investigation compares and contrasts both films revealing their core ideas, setting, plot, events, and the portrayal and actions of James Bond himself in order to find the factors that differentiate this protagonist after the 50 years passed. The analysis allows stating that although the creators of modern James Bond series attempt recreating the atmosphere of the “good old days” of the hero, they fail due to shift in the protagonists’ characteristics and the climax of the plot. Although the heroic image is present in both motion pictures, the James Bond in Goldfinger is more charismatic and personified unlike his image in Skyfall, which depicts him not as a spy, but as a senseless soldier serving his agency and country.
There are numerous factors that make the role of James Bond in Goldfinger and Skyfall similar in terms of his image as a hero, who serves his country using his spy skills and different unique devices. In this sense, this individual is the last hope for those, who fight with the world’s criminal activity and require an expert’s assistance. Thus, in Goldfinger, his mission is to track and catch an illegal dealer and billionaire Auric Goldfinger, who not only smuggles gold in the US but has a plan of exploding an atomic bomb inside the bank at Fort Knox. In Skyfall, the idea is somewhat different as the super-agent has to save MI6, his agency, from destruction and discovers the world’s criminal organization that stands against the agency. Despite this difference, both protagonists achieve their aims using such concepts as skills, weaponry, technical devices, women, and cars. Thus, both versions of the same personality wear costumes, and have a slim body, occasionally consume alcohol and enjoy attracting women. In both films, James Bond is a sharp shooting person, who knows a lot about weapons and their usage. Moreover, either he knows the basics of professional fighting such as judo or skilled in other martial arts because both films have fighting episodes. His other skills are the encyclopedic knowledge of diverse facts associated with weapons, geography, and other sciences, and the overall knowledge of the cultural aspects of the countries where he performs his missions. Similarly, the assisting members of the agency prepare for Bond diverse mechanisms such as lasers, radio tracking and transmitting devices, cars equipped with weaponry, and other. Bond skillfully uses them according to the situation, which leads to the fact that he is superior to his opponents. Similarly, due to an image of a stylish and clever man, he has enough charisma to charm the women, which he uses for obtaining professional secrets and the overall advantage of the criminals. For example, in Goldfinger, he charms Auric Goldfinger’s assistant, Pussy Galore, and she substitutes a neuroparalytic gas with its harmless equivalent notifying the army of the threat. At the same time, in Skyfall, he charms Severine, an accomplice of a criminal named Patrice, and she helps him to stay alive when visiting a casino of a criminal. Last, the series of James Bond are famous with their special cars because Aston Martin releases their special versions to be present in the film. Although the modifications of the car in Goldfinger and Skyfall differ, they allow the protagonist effectively chasing the criminals, escaping from the pursuits and accomplishing mission-related tasks. However, although these concepts are present in both motion pictures, they are actualized in different ways, which drastically affects the image of James Bond and produces a different reaction of the audience.
When characterizing a personality of James Bond, one presumes that in Goldfinger he is depicted as a more charismatic individual in contrast with Skyfall. The reason for this assumption is the overall behavior of the protagonist, the manner of play of the actor, and other indicators. Thus, in Goldfinger James bond freely communicates with villains pretending that he represents their potential associates and continues conversations in the ironic key even when he knows that they are going to kill him. Instead, a similar agent in the film released in 2012 is more straightforward shooting or fighting with his counterparts and making no agreements with them. Moreover, the version of James Bond of 1964 is more associated with a role of the spy in action. The reason for this is that he conceals his actions, changes costumes, hides from the enemies, overhears them and prevents similar actions done against him. In contrast, the image of James Bond in 2012 is more direct because the protagonist actively shoots and drives in open spaces such as the city’s squares, streets, skyscrapers and other locations endangering the civilians. As a result, James Bond in Goldfinger is a charming agent that works under complete secrecy whereas in Skyfall he is an active destructor. For instance, in the episode of the chase in Goldfinger, the protagonist rescues from the pursuit driving the car at night near the adversary’s secret facility shooting the enemies. In this episode, only the assistants of the criminal are harmed, and there is no evidence of civilians damaged by the agent. In contrast, when Bond chases Patrice at the beginning of Skyfall, he drives through the street full of people, jumps onto the moving train and uses an excavator in order not to lose the criminal. Moreover, using the excavator, he damages a carriage full of passengers, who surprisingly have no injuries or even the emotions of surprise or irritation. Therefore, James Bond in Skyfall is not human-friendly although he serves the community and saves people of his country from the threat of terrorism.
Furthermore, the image of the agent in Goldfinger is more appealing to the public because of his relationship with women. In the film released in 1964, James Bond has several affairs in which he uses his charm mostly to attract the women, who serve the criminals. During any interaction with them, he is free to joke, smile, which in its turn creates an impression that he is a freely communicating individual, who sometimes neglects his tasks in order to play with women. In contrast, the James Bond in Skyfall is mostly an emotionless person interested in villains and their chase or assassination. Moreover, the director of Skyfall added a tragic event in the film that undermined the whole reputation of the agent. Thus, during the train chase, James Bond was occasionally non-lethally shot by his associate, which probably caused his breakdown. This breakdown intensified the presence of a lifetime crisis of the agent, which is why from time to time he seemed lost and even failed to pass the professional tests at his agency. One presumes that these events were added by the director in order to demonstrate that, in this film, James Bond is not a robot, but a man, who has some emotions and reflections of life. Therefore, the image of James Bond of 1964 is more fun to watch because this person is an easy-going, flirting, knowledgeable and self-ironic individual, who likes women. In contrast, James Bond of 2012 is a task-concentrated person, who in not against having an affair, but lacks true emotions if one excludes the part of the plot, which discusses his lifetime crisis. Therefore, although both films, Goldfinger and Skyfall have a similar protagonist, his role is explored differently due to the diverse accents on the expressions of his personality.
Summarizing the paper, one arrives at a conclusion that the difference of almost fifty years between the releases of the two films that represent a similar protagonist has impacted the aspects of the description of his image. Thus, the individuality of James Bond in Goldfinger released in 1964 seems to be more charismatic, human-friendly and optimistic, which is more appealing to the public. In contrast, it Skyfall released in 2012, James Bond is depicted as an old-fashioned but more brutal individual, who performs antisocial actions although they aim at protecting the society. Moreover, the latter image of James Bond is more pessimistic and less willing to engage in personal contacts with women, which is why it seems to be less attractive than his historical predecessor depicted in Goldfinger. Consequently, the difference of the crew, the cast, and the overall cultural progress inevitably affect the ways a similar protagonist may be depicted in a film series.