Back to this. I finally got my PS3 replaced, so now I can enjoy my new box set… and I will continue with my thoughts on Bond and Skyfall with this entry discussing the women of 007.
(SPOILERS AHEAD) Just in case.
The Bond Girl, or Woman, is as much of an ingredient as the other parts to the formula that makes Bond an enduring franchise. From Ursula Andress’ emergence from the water in Dr. No to... unfortunately, Halle Berry’s in Die Another Day, the Bond girl advances the storyline, gums up the works, and motivates Bond to do just about anything for a little bit of shagging at the end.
I wish I had more time to go through a list of all the Bond girls/women to delve deep into this integral part of the franchise. Perhaps, I’ll circle back after viewing some of the material from the Bond 50 discs.
For now, the thing you need to know is that there are two types of Bond girl… Actually, three.
This is the girl who Bond usually ends up with at the end. Sometimes, they have the cool, almost entendre worthy name like Plenty O’Toole or Pussy Galore. Sometimes, they are more subtle, but just as pun filled like Christmas Jones or Tiffany Case.
The formula usually works like this. They either work for the villain, either unknowingly or against their will (in the case of Vesper Lynd or Domino) or they are working against the villain from another agency like Jinx Johnson or Wai Lin.
In either scenario, they end up being rescued or escaping with Bond and usually end up having sex with him as M or other British dignitaries try to contact him with congratulations.
The Sacrificial Lamb
The second type of Bond Girl/Woman is the sacrificial lamb. Now, not every sacrificial lamb is a girl. In For Your Eyes Only it was Luigi Ferrara, Bond’s contact in Italy. In A View To A Kill, it was Tibbett, Bond’s chauffer who was an MI6 agent well versed in horse training. However, for the sake of the argument, the sacrificial lamb in this case is always a woman.
The formula for who becomes the S.L. is usually this: she’s the wife, girlfriend, or other woman in the villain’s employ. Probably the most iconic S.L. is Jill Masterson, whose death has become a cornerstone of the Bond mythos when she was killed by epidermal suffocation due to being covered entirely in gold paint after betraying Goldfinger as he was cheating at cards… and more importantly, sleeping with the enemy.
Some of the other S.L. Bond girls/women include:
- Aki – You Only Live Twice – Bond’s Japanese contact who inadvertently is killed in an assassination attempt on Bond with the ole poison dripping down the thread trick.
- Paris Carver – Tomorrow Never Dies - wife of Elliot Carver, who also had a previous relationship with Bond and was killed by Dr. Kaufman in an attempt to get rid of her and Bond.
- Tracy Bond – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Occupies both the The Match and Sacrificial Lamb role as the wife of Bond and daughter of SPECTRE connected Union Corse head, Marc Ange Draco. Gunned down by Irma Bunt at the end of the film.
So, how does this all relate into Skyfall? Skyfall turns the entire formula upside down while maintaining the essentials… and you’ll have to bear with me on this.
As the film starts out, Naomie Harris’ Eve fills the role of The Match Bond girl… we think. She nearly kills Bond… which is typical of the kind of bumbling that is associated with Bond Girls like Mary Goodnight in The Man With the Golden Gun or Jill St. John in Diamonds Are Forever. She also has an intimate moment with Bond during the “shaving scene”… we think. Turns out, by the end of the film, there is no way she could have slept with Bond, even though it may be implied and not shown. We know this, because at the end, she reveals her full name to be Eve Moneypenny. Now, you may say, “Oh, he definitely shagged her after the shaving scene.” To that I say…. “Then why not show it, even in its most demure fashion?”
The Sacrificial Lamb is easily identifiable as Sévérine, the accomplice of Silva who took part in the assassination in Shanghai, but later softened to Bond at the casino when he promised to kill Silva for her. Her fate was sealed with that betrayal, and was shot by Silva, firing squad style.
So, that leaves us with the Bond Girl in this picture.
What? You say there wasn’t one? Oh, really? There’s one more woman in this film, and I’m not talking about the girl Bond was shagging between bottles of booze and pills after his “death”.
After watching the film, I realized that the real Bond girl in this film was Judi Dench, M. The formula works. She was associated with the villain, though HE worked for her. She helped Bond take him down at the end, by posing as bait. She ended up in Bond’s arms, even though she died. While not objectifying or sexualizing her character as The Match, there is an undeniable romanticized relationship between them.
M filled more of a maternal role for Bond in the Daniel Craig films. That all ends with Tanner assuming the role in the next film(s), However, I will miss Judi Dench terribly in that role. She was fantastic in the last seven outings.
Bernard Lee was the template, serving for 17 years and three Bond actors. Robert Brown is probably the most recognizable by me since he was there during the Moore and Dalton years, my formal upbringing on Bond films, but Dench made the character more of an active participant than just the boss who barks orders, shakes their head at Bond’s tomfoolery, and then says, “007” at the end, when Bond is caught with his girl, post coital. In Skyfall, maybe Dench was meant to be given a larger role as M, due to it being her swan song. I don’t know if her eyesight was the reason for her “retirement” or if this was planned. As it is, Skyfall does not share source material with any Flemming or other Bond writer novel. In fact, the last film only shared the title with a story from the Bond canon, while the plot was completely unrelated.
So, there you have it, mind blown. M is/was the latest Bond Girl. I will try to finish up this week, while I have some momentum and move on to other things like Top Ten Eyeroll movies coming in 2013.