“Any one actor can play Hamlet and it will be an exciting and different take, but Hamlet will still survive. One feels that way about Bond.”
Sam Mendes, Spectre director
Bond. James Bond. We have a stack of old Bond videos somewhere — we’re huge fans of Sean Connery at my house and watched his movies over and over when Alex was growing up. He and I saw Daniel Craig in Skyfall and I’m looking forward to checking out Spectre.
From what I’ve read, in this newest flick, James has been both shaken and stirred. He’s undergone what a reviewer called a “Shakespearean” shift from a super sleuth who chases bad guys, woos gorgeous women, and swills martinis to a flawed, aging spy. In short, Bond has evolved into a more rounded, full-souled hero — from a caricature into a character. Here’s how the newest film made this shift:
It gave James an emotional life: The newest film offers a glimpse into Bond’s childhood. We also see that he is emotionally affected by the loss of a love and of his mentor, M. According to Barbara Broccoli, daughter of the original Bond producer, Daniel Craig “has been able to unearth some of Bond’s deepest emotional conflicts, and that’s made his portrayal of the character so engaging….He’s brought a lot of humanity to the role.” As one co-star put it, “He’s more vulnerable and fragile” — he’s more than the sum of his martinis.
It gave him vulnerability: The old Bond movies existed in a “vacuum” according to Sam Mendes. Part of their charm lay in the fact that James was ever suave, ever elegant, and evergreen — he was changeless and ageless. In the newer movies, time passes. Instead of resisting this idea, fans have embraced it. As Mendes says, people are excited by the fact that “somewhere buried in an action movie is a meditation on mortality and loss.”
Its stakes have evolved: Over time, the types of villains and evil powers that James battles have become more chilling, more nefarious, more global. This mirrors what’s happened in the real world and made the stakes higher and the odds against Bond’s success greater. All of which compel audiences to root for him and fear for his safety — making him more real as a hero.
It’s fascinating to ponder how our boy James has evolved from a super sleuth to a soulful spy. And ironic: By becoming more human, he’s become more iconic. Our takeaway: By making our characters more flawed and full-souled, we make them more likeable and believable. Write on!