Welcome to Bond Week, in celebration of No Time to Die finally being released into theaters this week. Throughout the week, I’ll be posting James Bond themed-articles, mostly because I love that silly, hugely problematic and identity-bereft franchise almost as much as Star Wars. And also because of that sweet SEO-money baby. Don’t expect many deconstructions and insights, they will be mostly scattered, just like the entire franchise. One thing you realize about Bond movies is that you have to love it by the parts, not the whole. Today, I would let some folks more talented than me do the essay/analysis thing.
I wanted to write something along the lines of “subversive plotlines” in the Bond series, that is, times when the franchise dipped a wee toe into a critical reflection on its character, its Imperialistic mindset, its treatment of women or on Capitalism and stuff. But I soon realize I was out of my depth. No, let me correct myself. I soon realized I had very little to work with, with the best examples coming from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Quantum of Solace, and we’ve already published two articles on the latter this week.
So instead, I have a list of five great video essays about James Bond that I’ve found on YouTube, which are a harder find that you might think. I mean, there are several fan-based channels exclusively dedicated to Bond, but they don’t go deep enough into a critical analysis of that universe. And then there’s the bunch of losers whining about SJWs ruining Bond with wokeness.
What I love about these essays is that they come from people that, like me, love the series, but are well aware that it needs to reevaluate itself. But not necessarily by changing Bond the character. All of these are candidates for eventual “Too Good For Youtube” pieces.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service - Seeing Bond Differently by Rossatron
Rossatron, or Ross Peacock by his civilian name, is a director and editor who has devoted his channel to the study of the action genre and films. This short essay on OHMSS was an eye-opener for me as to why this is the best Bond movie, and I didn’t like it the first time around.
“Never Say Never Again is a Waste” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and The End of James Bond” by Eyebrow Cinema.
If we’re going to talk about the best Bond movies and whatever their storytelling potential might be, then we should also focus on their worst installments. Released the same year as the serviceable Octopussy, Never Say Never Again is a product of trying to milk a (righteous) copyright strike for all it was worth. Eyebrow Cinema tears it apart as the boring, mean-spirited mess that it is, but also for missing out on their chance to do something radically different with Bond, not having EON micromanaging their property out of oxygen.
The second essay is an expanded study of OHMSS, because seriously, it’s an excellent movie under any standard. Eyebrow Cinema makes some great points on how director Peter R. Hunt brought actual vision and auteurship to the series, from the visual style to the characterization of its female lead.
The Philosophy of Archer - Wisecrack Edition
I’m cheating a little bit with this one, but this essay does a great work of exploring how Archer’s comedy works, as a response that inverts the aesthetics and conception of masculinity underpinning the Bond franchise.
James Bond Directed By Alfred Hitchcock by The Royal Ocean Film Society
I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the 60s, the offices of EON were flooded by film geeks asking them to please, pleeeeeasee hire Alfred Hitchcock to direct Bond. Today’s equivalent are YouTube and Reddit comments clamoring for Christopher Nolan to take over the franchise. The thing is, Bond has always been responding to the ideas and style of other filmmakers, even in its very first installments. That’s the point made in this essay by showing how North by Northwest left an indelible imprint on how they translated Bond into film.
007 Ideas For The Next James Bond by Marketplace of (Movie) Ideas
For me, this might be THE greatest video out there on where to take the franchise forwards. Unfortunately, this channel is a one-post wonder. His main thesis is that the best way to overhaul the franchise is to go back in time, set it in the 60s, in a heightened reality, but through the hindsight of 60 years of history. That doesn’t mean bowdlerizing the characters… or as it is more common now, making them anachronistically enlightened. On the contrary, use it as a chance to reevaluate and confront the character’s bigotry. From that starting point, there are endless possibilities for an expanded universe. Please, EON, in the very, very, very unlikely chance a cocky intern is reading this and decides “I’m going to show it to the Broccoli’s, I bet I’m gonna get a promotion”: First, don’t fire that intern please, and second, contact this guy and bring him on board. Or just adapt the comics.
Bonus Track: It’s Been the Same James Bond This Whole Time - A 007 Nerd’s Chronology by Cinefix
This one is sillier, but has a great point: There’s an order in which you can watch the entire EON franchise that results in proper character development, and also does away with the whole “James Bond is a codename” theory. It fits well with No Time to Die, and that’s all I’m going to say. Well, you have to ignore the fact that Bond seems to live in a world where sometimes the aesthetics are very 60s, sometimes the technology is from the 90s and sometimes you live in a post-9/11 world. It’s the machete order for the one film series where continuity has always been an afterthought, but it works.
Image sources (in order of posting): MGM, James Bond 007 @YouTube, EON Productions