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New Culture Forum – So What You’re Saying Is: James Bond: A British Icon – The Lives & Times of 007. Is Today’s James Bond Still James Bond?

23/09/2021

Premiered September 19, 2021

This was great fun

James Bond is a globally recognised British institution. As iconic as Big Ben and HM The Queen. But how do today’s Bond films compare with the original films in the franchise, or indeed with the original books?

Would Ian Fleming recognise Daniel Craig’s depiction of the secret service agent? Can Bond survive into an increasingly woke future? Who should play the next Bond?

Joining us to discuss this we are delighted to have renowned historian and prolific author, Prof. Jeremy Black, author of the hugely entertaining book “The World of James Bond: The Lives & Times of 007”, which presents an insightful and thoroughly entertaining exploration of the political context of the Bond books and films. In his book Jeremy Black offers a historian’s interpretation from the perspective of the late 2010s, assessing James Bond in terms of the greatly changing world order of the Bond years―a lifetime that stretches from 1953, when the first novel appeared, to the present.

Black argues that the Bond novels―the Fleming books as well as the often-neglected novels authored by others after Fleming died in 1964―and films drew on current fears in order to reduce the implausibility of the villains and their villainy. The novels and films also presented potent images of national character, explored the rapidly changing relationship between a declining Britain and an ascendant United States, charted the course of the Cold War and the subsequent post-1990 world, and offered an evolving but always potent demonology. Bond was, and still is, an important aspect of post–World War II popular culture throughout the Western world. This was particularly so after Hollywood launched the filmic Bond, thus making him not only a character designed for the American film market but also a world product and a figure of globalization. Class, place, gender, violence, sex, race―all are themes that Black scrutinizes through the ongoing shifts in characterization and plot.

His well-informed and well-argued analysis provides a fascinating history of the enduring and evolving appeal of James Bond.

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