For about 51 years, Bond movies have been among the most popular and favorite movies of several generations. It is obvious that with the change in technology, politics, as well as competition, the movie industry has also evolved, and James Bond movies are an exception. Inherently, they are popular not only because they present the same stylish spy in action series, but also for the reason that they change according to the demand of the audience seeking more character development. Despite this, it is clear that the older movies were much better compared to the current James Bond movies. Whereas the former Bond movies were connected expressively with the audiences, the current ones show less connection. Moreover, both the old and new movies highlight the theme of love although a change in ideals took place. Similarly, the way women characters are depicted has been changing with time. As a result, this paper analyzes how the old Bond movies are compared with the new Bond movies.
Expression of James Bond Movie
A change in values has been happening in James Bond over time. Drew Moniot reveals that the older generations are more comfortable watching the older James Bond films than the current ones (27). Chirico argues that the Craig’s (new) Bond does not have the feeling as depicted by the older movies, which were more glamorous and lighthearted as compared to the harsher and darker ones common in the today’s movie houses (200).
For instance, in old James Bond films, the character mainly would go about sipping Martinis while flirting with enemy spies, as well as driving classic vehicles that would turn into shot lasers, rockets, submarines, or planes. This was some kind of reflection of that era. The space age whereby the innovate and new technology would bring the spectators closer to Jetson family standard of living also reflected that specific time (Lindner 75). Likewise, the hedonistic Brosnan’s Bond of the 1990s with its crazy schemes and villains, the technology of Deus Ex Machina, and a remote controlled vehicle was a reflection of the materialistic culture that dominated that time. Accordingly, the old James Bond movies perfectly fit in what that time society was looking for; therefore, making the films more exciting.
On the other hand, the glamorization that was evident in the former films was condescending. Robert Chirico claims that with the current economic drag crisis, along with people becoming more acclimated to social issues such as constant warfare, unemployment, and poverty, sympathizing with slimy government agents, may actually get pretty dang tough (201). Moreover, despite the fact that the Bond presented by Craig seems to be more accepted by the current generation, ultimately, he may appear unrealistic. Moniot claims that he is more of a tour guide for the audience into a wild and fascinating world of intelligence owing to the fact that he is a full, tragic character who is struggling in a lousy situation (27). As a result, the older films are more exciting than the current.
Bond’s villains also depict a shift in values. During the 80s and 70s the audience lived with the notion that life on earth can end through a nuclear war. Some madmen would come up with a doomsday device, and; consequently, it made sense them to be natural enemies to Bond (Smith 45). However, in the current situation, despite the hype that was evident in Iran, the notion of nuclear holocaust is essentially relegated to survivalist compounds. Sincerely, what is the concern of people nowadays? It is the Shadowy cabals composed of wealthy warmongers who also manipulate peoples’ lives from the epicenter of the government. For example, the Quantum of Solace is in accordance with the current shift of the world view although it is less popular. The question that comes out is what are the bad guys after? A military coup so as to ensure rights of Bolivia state water. Although this seems believable, it is evidently not exciting.
Theme of Love
Most of the Bond films tend to revolve around the concept of love, which is quite constant in all movies. James Bond movies have adopted a new approach; whereby, the turn of gaze changes from the idealization of a woman body to that of a man body. According to Linder, this is one of the main reasons why the older generation claims that the older movies are better than the current ones. This change in idealization is clearly portrayed in the movie where ladies focus on the body of Bond which is not only handsome and trim, but also desirable and ripped. This takes the shape of how women were presented in the former movies, since, in this case, James Bond emerges from the water on the beach in a similar style as Honey Ryder did in the very first film, Dr. No. The male physique is portrayed as important as female one. Evidently, women characters were more emphasized in the former movies as compared to the female presence in the current movies. Ladeson purports that the change in principles may not be supported by a number of heterosexual personalities (421).
Bond’s relationships with women have experienced a noteworthy change also. Actually, as women are portrayed to be more independent and such who can make a significant contribution towards progression of the plot, Bond’s relationship with them has greatly changed. The number of sexually consummated relationships in the recent movies shows that Bond has sexual relationships with just one woman per movie. This is totally different from the former films where Bond would engage in sexual relationship with several ladies. In fact, Moniot argues that these subtle occurrences in the old movies present Bond as vulnerable and humanistic, which, actually, presents him as a normal person who, consequently, can relate well with his audience (28). As a result, a change in Bonds character, with regard to the relationship with women, may have impacts on the current movies. They are not as exciting as the former ones. However, there still exist some kissing and flirtation, and relationship are becoming less campy, along with more involved.
The way women characters are presented in the movies has been changing with time. Chirico describes the old Bond movies as completely unflattering to women and chauvinistic (201). Actually, although the notion may be well founded in most of the films, it is not always the case. However, most of the themes associated with women have significantly improved. When it comes to Bond relationships with women, they are portrayed in several unflattering ways. For example, most of the old Bond films depict women as helpless, brainless, or inept in their field of work. However, these qualities have been diminishing with time as the series matured with liberation of women.
Moniot accuses Bond series of having lead women roles with no substance (31). Actually, in most of the old Bond films, women characters had minimal development, and consequently, they did not make any significant contribution to the plot. For instance, in the first film, Dr. No, the lead female actress, Honey Ryder, does not contribute much to the plot (Young 5). Honey wanders around an island that belongs to the antagonist to look for sea shells. Although she walks around with a dagger, she is actually a minor backstory and does not contribute majorly to the Bond’s battle with Dr. No. On the other hand, Electra King, a character in The World is not Enough, is portrayed as beautiful but naïve although at the end of the film, it is revealed that she is not that blind and simple, and Bond decides to kill her in order to prevent a nuclear attack. The situation has, as we see, significantly changed with current films where the female characters play a critical role in the development of a plot.
As it was told, female characters are depicted as incompetent in the field. A perfect example is Tatiana Romanova in From Russia with Love and Mary Goodnight in the movie The Man with the Golden Gun (Young 3). Goodnight is presented as an incompetent M-I6 agent. At one instance, she almost kills Bond accidentally, as well as unintentionally destroys the whole island belonging to Solex captor by disrupting the power generators’ coolant, which results into an explosion. However, Jinx, a character in Die Another Day, which is a recent film, is portrayed as a competent field operative (Tamahori 3).
In conclusion, there are a lot of evident changes in the Bond movie series. There is a change in values, such that the old James Bond movies perfectly fit in the society’s expectations; therefore, making them more exciting. Moreover, James Bond movies have adopted a new approach where the turn of gaze changes from the idealization of the female body to that of the male body. However, it is also true that most of the old Bond films depict women as helpless, brainless, or dilettante, which is not the case now. All these indicate that the old James Bond movies are better compared to the new ones.