Characters in movies rarely have the ability to maintain societal prominence for very long. As with most trends, the passing of time renders them obsolete; our fickle attention spans don't help, either. Often it's not even our fault, since sequels (Part 2, Part 3, ad infinitum) work their poison and kill our interest, the powers of attrition whittling away at whatever sincerity and feeling the character once had. New faces come and go -- different actors take the role and manipulate it with their particular portrayal, some wonderfully, others abysmally.
What is it with James Bond, then? Why, after 50 years of 007, do we still flock to theaters with as much enthusiasm as we did in 1962? Currently on our sixth Bond (Daniel Craig), we're not bored. We're not tired of his hyper-masculine antics. Despite the advancement of feminism, we still abide his womanizing, his one-liners and excessive violence towards anyone who dares cross him. We gaze with lust at the "Bond Girls" (though, admittedly, the actresses' portrayal of them has gotten a bit more aggressive and less wallflower-y over time) and Bond's cars, which switch up with every subsequent film. Men want to be him and women want to be with him (for the most part), and despite the time gone by between eras, Bond is pretty much the same ol' guy: he loves his suits, his cigarettes/cigars, his gambling, his drinks, and the aforementioned cars and women. In short, Bond is a pleasure-seeker, an absolute hedonist.
So maybe that's it. Maybe he's an escape for us. He can do, say and experience things that we never, ever could. I recall, as a child, going down into our basement early in the morning to see my dad watching For Your Eyes Only on TV, as Bond's helicopter picks up villain Ernst Blofeld in his wheelchair and drops him down a smokestack to his death. Every single time I see a smokestack now, I think of Bond and this rather cruel ending.
I can also credit Bond with my first-ever viewing of a real kiss. We're talking open mouths, people. My dad looked sideways at me, smirking as I watched Sean Connery grasp a woman and plant one on her. I remember thinking about how different it was than the G-rated cartoon kisses I'd seen up until then. So, for me, Bond was an awakening, in a sense. Strange that it was for my father as well, who clamours to see every single Bond film that comes out, and has loved the franchise since its inception. Two men -- myself at 33, my father at 75 -- can both identify with the character. The huge gap between generations doesn't seem to have any effect.
Through it all, 007 remains the same. Rough waters may batter the rock, but it still stands at the end of the day. We should all find solace (sorry) in the longevity of this franchise, that something can still persist and thrive in this era of social media and materialistic egoism. Old Hollywood may be dead, but at least one of its cinematic pillars remains intact. Whether you see him as a misogynistic cad or a debonair everyman, you can't deny that Bond has lasting power.
To commemorate Bond's 50th anniversary (the first film, "Dr. No," was released in 1962), 20th Century Fox has created a Blu-ray collection featuring all 22 Bond movies, complete with over 120 hours of extra footage, including in-depth interviews with cast and crew and commentary, available October 9 -- a must for Bond fans.
And that's not all! October 5 is officially Bond Day, and the next Bond film, Skyfall, is being released in theaters on November 9.
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