James Bond still thrills after 50 years

by | Nov 5, 2012 | News

By Neetu Thind

The iconic James Bond character has made a big impact on popular culture.
COURTESY TIFF

The highly anticipated James Bond thriller Skyfall will debut on Canadian screens later this week and after 50 years in film, the charismatic spy is still drawing in fans.

One reason the iconic agent 007 character continues to be relevant is because viewers want a piece of the Bond lifestyle, Keir Keightley, associate professor of media studies at University of Western Ontario, told Humber News.

“For the price of a movie ticket, they can indulge in the fantasy of being a jet-setting super consumer,” said Keightley.

Bond represents a fantasy that is beyond the reach for most, she said.

“He is an avatar of the ideal consumer. He always has the best suits, the best cars, drinks the best wine, he travels to the best luxury hotels. He lives the good life on screen and in that way he becomes a role model,” said Keightley.

The franchise also encompasses the history of the world in the last 50 years.

“The films take us through the decline of colonialism and the emergence and eventual decline of the Cold War,” said Keightley. “The films also tell us something about how little things have changed.”

An aggressive masculinity is constant in all the 007 films, said Keightley.

“It’s a particular vision of male sexuality as aggressive, unemotional and uninvolved. Some people would say that is a disturbing fantasy to be so widely celebrated.”

The roles of women in the films have also created controversy, with Bond’s love interests often dying a violent death.

However, some fans believe that the portrayal of women has evolved in the films.

“I believe in the 90’s the franchise started to attempt to change how women were being portrayed for the better, by making them fiercer villains and more helpful counterparts to Bond,” said Natalie Andrusko, a fan of 007.

“Bond does a good job of having both strong woman characters such as M and others that are used for their sex appeal,” said Wesley Sprague, another fan of the franchise.

The ever-changing actors playing the spy have also added great interest to the films and have kept it relevant to today’s society, said Andrusko.

“Roger Moore was Bond in the 80’s and he tended to be a lot sillier than his predecessor Sean Connery, whose portrayal of Bond was more serious and rugged, “said Andrusko. “Presently, Daniel Craig seems to be a more sensitive version of Bond than we have seen in the past.”

TIFF unveiled an exhibit on the infamous spy in October – its purpose to honour one of the greatest cultural phenomena of our times, said Jesse Wente, TIFF curator, in a press release.

Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style will run at the TIFF Lightbox until January 20 and Skyfall will debut in Canadian theaters on Friday.

Check out some highlights from the exhibit:

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