The dust has begun to settle on No Time To Die now, but don’t worry – this isn’t anything to do with the film and there are no spoilers in this Quick Read.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to expand my podcast listening horizons away from just film and comedy, to a bit more of an eclectic mix of educational, literary and scientific – nothing too taxing, but just trying to learn a bit more about, y’know, stuff.
I’ve also gone back and listened to some old Smershpods too (if you haven’t heard them, you absolutely should), and had a thought buzzing away in the back of my skull that just wouldn’t go away – that the James Bond franchise works as a metaphor for the understanding of scientific discovery.
Bear with me.
It’s All A Matter Of Perspective
Now the randy old super spy is pushing 60, the Bond franchise has been around for roughly half of cinema’s lifetime. In that time, it has continuously developed alongside society and advanced the filmmaking industry throughout the decades.
When you look at the amount of time humans have been on the planet, and compare their movement from blind faith to the pursuit of science, knowledge and understanding… okay, the we’re talking hundreds of years out of millions of years so the balance might not quite be the same, but you get the picture.
This Never Happened To The Other Fella
Certain aspects of science are always changing, scientific theories are being tested and updated as our skills and understanding of the universe improve, or the focus of the scientific community moves from one area of discovery (say, getting to the Moon), to another (trying to save our planet).
Likewise, the Bond franchise is also constantly in flux, updating its main themes as the international focus changes – from dealing with the Cold War to the space race, from controlling the world’s supply of microchips to being HAUNTED BY HIS PAST, the franchise is constantly trying to stay relevant to the wider world and things the audience care about.
We All Have Our Secrets
Whatever your personal preference when it comes to the series, there’s no perfect Bond film.
Objectively, each and every film has its flaw(s), whether it’s a dodgy technical shot (see: Die Another Day’s CGI or Moonraker’s double-taking pigeon), performative (a badly-delivered quip – take your pick – the fella with the broom above), or script-related (I dunno… Quantum or Spectre?), but generally speaking, there’s usually enough good stuff to satisfy.
I don’t know if there’s such a thing as perfect science. In physics, there’s a there’s a theory of everything – except it’s hypothetical, there are two of them, they both approach explaining everything in the universe in different ways but are not compatible, so is it really perfect science? I have no idea, I’ll just duck for cover and let someone with a scientific mind tell me I’m wrong.
Basically, even your favourite Bond film has its issues, you just might not realise it until you test the theory with fellow ‘experts’ – just like science!
All The Time In The World
The Bond franchise will never end (that’s not just my reasoning for holding off from buying the box set). It’ll keep evolving, learning from past mistakes and triumphs, and carrying on like a cinematic constant, even if it looks different from decade to decade.
Tonally, we’ve seen Bond adapt over the years (albeit in small, if not totally insignificant ways), and every time there’s a new film in the pipeline the papers are filled with the same old ‘is 007’s time finally up?’ stories, right alongside the tedious recasting speculation.
What was right many years ago might not be right today, whether it’s fluffy, powder blue bathing suits and unapologetic misogyny, or believing the Earth is flat or the Sun revolves around our silly little planet.
We can always look back at what was deemed brilliant 10, 25, 50 years ago, and be able to see how far we’ve come and it’s only by acknowledging what’s gone before that we can move ahead in, hopefully, a positive fashion.
Whatever 007 looks like, we’ll always be able to see a through line binding the films as easily as we’ll see the building blocks of modern science reflected in new theories and discoveries.
Oh, Grow Up…
There you go then.
I appreciate it’s not a perfect theory, nor is it a particularly elegant one, but it’s been stuck in my head for ages and this is easier than in a Twitter thread.
What do you think? If you’ve got a better example, or if you know your science, I’d love to hear which franchise would best fit a similarly drawn out simile!