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Bond's Age and Continuity


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#1 AndrewBond

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 09:27 PM

I'm sure this thread has been done a million times before, but I thought it was worth current consideration. James Bond, for the majority of his existence, has been a relatively ageless character. He is a man in his thirties-forties, as conceived by Fleming, and in his 50 years on screen is perenially so. Yet after (almost) 23 films and a hard reboot, that pereniallity may not be universally acknowledged among the fans. Let's consider the facts:

From Sean Connery through Roger Moore, the age of the Bond actors was more or less linear. George Lazenby was younger, but not noticeably so. Roger Moore was older than Sean Connery and held onto the role for 12 years. Throughout these years, as Bond physically aged, his continuity was also acknowledged, in his mourning of his wife and battling of Blofeld. The twenty-fifth anniversary film, The Living Daylights, with a Bond who was remarkably younger in appearance (as well as different in character) made us consider: Is this the same Bond as before? Nevertheless, Timothy Dalton's next film, Licence to Kill, established that indeed it was. With the advent of a new Bond, Pierce Brosnan, six years later yet still the same age, we were forced to ask the same question, yet references to him as a "dinosaur" and "relic of the Cold War", along with the items in Q's laboratory in Die Another Day, seemed to reaffirm that this Bond was one and the same. If this Bond, with all of his experiences, had retained Sean Connery's birthdate, he would have been 72 years old.

In 2006 came Casino Royale, with a brand new Bond getting a brand new "origin" story. His birthdate is given as 1968, and so far, with two films taking place in quick succession, references to the previous films have obviously been nonexistant. Few would deny that this new Bond has not had the experiences of his predecessor(s).

My questions are: Before CR, how did you view Bond's age? Did you view him under Dalton and Brosnan as having the experiences of their predecessors in a more compressed, age-appropriate span of time? Or did you view Bond as 72 years old with extremely good genes/skin cream/plastic surgery in DAD?

Perhaps more importantly, how do you view him after CR? Is it a brand new character, reincarnated? Do you consider the previous Bond, of Dr. No - DAD, to have had Bond's CR experience (this may depend on how much you considered Fleming's Bond and the films to be one and the same)? Do you consider them to have had Bond's Quantum of Solace experience? Will you go into Skyfall thinking that this Bond has the experiences of his predecessor(s)?

And finally, if you do consider CraigBond a brand new character, as the majority undoubtedly does, do you think the character suffers from this loss of continuity? I must admit, I enjoyed the previous films knowing that Bond had survived all his past experiences.

I leave it open to you.

Edited by AndrewBond, 11 August 2012 - 09:29 PM.


#2 batmatt92

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 10:56 PM

My questions are: Before CR, how did you view Bond's age? Did you view him under Dalton and Brosnan as having the experiences of their predecessors in a more compressed, age-appropriate span of time? Or did you view Bond as 72 years old with extremely good genes/skin cream/plastic surgery in DAD?

This. For example, once it gets to Brosnan I just sort of imagine the events of Dr. No thru Licence to Kill all took place in the '80s or something.

Perhaps more importantly, how do you view him after CR? Is it a brand new character, reincarnated? Do you consider the previous Bond, of Dr. No - DAD, to have had Bond's CR experience (this may depend on how much you considered Fleming's Bond and the films to be one and the same)? Do you consider them to have had Bond's Quantum of Solace experience? Will you go into Skyfall thinking that this Bond has the experiences of his predecessor(s)?

And this.

And finally, if you do consider CraigBond a brand new character, as the majority undoubtedly does, do you think the character suffers from this loss of continuity? I must admit, I enjoyed the previous films knowing that Bond had survived all his past experiences.

No, not really. In fact, I'm glad the reboot Bond has lost a lot of that baggage. The filmmakers are free at this point to do whatever they want without having to honor any continuity. This gives them the freedom to try a lot of new things and push it in new directions that may not have been possible before. How brave they'll be with that freedom, however, is still up in the air.

#3 AgenttiNollaNollaSeitsemän

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:01 AM

The way I see it, Sean, George and Roger played Bond whose adventures took place in real time, between 1962 and 1985, Timothy and Pierce played Bond who went through the events of Dr. No within condenced timeframe, from mid-to-late 70's onwards, and now Daniel plays Bond who hasn't experienced the previous adventures.

#4 WhatMeWorry?

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 02:17 AM

I have never liked how Casino Royale was considered a "reboot", this implies that was a soild continuity from Connery in 1962 to Brosnan in 2002. There is no real continuity in the Bond franchise. The continuity is as abstract and subjective as say, surrealist art.

#5 thecasinoroyale

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 11:11 AM

I too see Connery-Brosnan as the same character who bend each adventure to the era they are in, but where as they probably took place in Bond's life within 10 years, maybe as a whole, but obviously each actor has different ways to show the adventure.

I agree it's a shame Craig was cast in the "reboot" era so it's almost like his James Bond has nothing to do with the previous actors legacy or 40 years of films.

The same man, just different interpretations of time.

#6 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 01:25 PM

Continuity in the Bond films only exist within the eras of each actor portraying the character.

And, frankly, that´s the only way to do it. In hindsight, it was the best idea for EON to not care about continuity at all - otherwise, how would you explain that the same circumstances of the DR.NO-Bond could still apply to the DAD-Bond?

You would have to acknowledge Bond´s growing age then.

#7 S K Y F A L L

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 01:21 AM

I have never liked how Casino Royale was considered a "reboot", this implies that was a soild continuity from Connery in 1962 to Brosnan in 2002. There is no real continuity in the Bond franchise. The continuity is as abstract and subjective as say, surrealist art.


I also do not like how Casino Royale is considered a "reboot." If you take out the first scene in the film then you would have never known it was a "reboot" and it would be just another Bond film but since "reboots" were a trend at the time EON jumped on the bandwagon. Every time a new Bond actor is introduced its a reboot IMO and reboots are normally for films that failed not ones that are successful. I just don't understand how it is a reboot. IMO DAD is to MR as CR is to FYEO. Not a reboot just a more grounded film. If it is an "origin" story shouldn't the whole film have been about the 2 kills Bond needs to become a double o rather then the first 2 minutes of the film?

#8 batmatt92

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 03:46 AM

I also do not like how Casino Royale is considered a "reboot." If you take out the first scene in the film then you would have never known it was a "reboot" and it would be just another Bond film but since "reboots" were a trend at the time EON jumped on the bandwagon. Every time a new Bond actor is introduced its a reboot IMO and reboots are normally for films that failed not ones that are successful. I just don't understand how it is a reboot. IMO DAD is to MR as CR is to FYEO. Not a reboot just a more grounded film. If it is an "origin" story shouldn't the whole film have been about the 2 kills Bond needs to become a double o rather then the first 2 minutes of the film?

I disagree. I think Bond's character certainly makes it a reboot. He may not look it (Craig isn't all that much younger, if at all, than other Bonds), but he certainly acts more youthfully brash. He's (more) reckless and most importantly, not trusted by his superiors. He has to prove himself. It takes the whole film, not just the first two minutes, for him to really grow from Bond to Bond, if that makes any sense. It's very much a reboot.

Contrast that with the films from '62-'02, where despite it not making any sense in real time, the movies are meant to take place in the same universe. The reference to Dr. No in FRWL, Bond referencing his and Leiter's Jamaican exploits in GF, cleaning out the desk in OHMSS, references to Tracy after OHMSS, Q consistently appearing as the same actor, having the room full of past gadgets in DAD, etc. The only thing is, you cannot interpret the events of these films as literally happening over a 40-year span of time. For Dalton and Brosnan the events of the previous movies still happened, just maybe not exactly as we've seen them.

#9 S K Y F A L L

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 11:59 AM

I also do not like how Casino Royale is considered a "reboot." If you take out the first scene in the film then you would have never known it was a "reboot" and it would be just another Bond film but since "reboots" were a trend at the time EON jumped on the bandwagon. Every time a new Bond actor is introduced its a reboot IMO and reboots are normally for films that failed not ones that are successful. I just don't understand how it is a reboot. IMO DAD is to MR as CR is to FYEO. Not a reboot just a more grounded film. If it is an "origin" story shouldn't the whole film have been about the 2 kills Bond needs to become a double o rather then the first 2 minutes of the film?

I disagree. I think Bond's character certainly makes it a reboot. He may not look it (Craig isn't all that much younger, if at all, than other Bonds), but he certainly acts more youthfully brash. He's (more) reckless and most importantly, not trusted by his superiors. He has to prove himself. It takes the whole film, not just the first two minutes, for him to really grow from Bond to Bond, if that makes any sense. It's very much a reboot.

Contrast that with the films from '62-'02, where despite it not making any sense in real time, the movies are meant to take place in the same universe. The reference to Dr. No in FRWL, Bond referencing his and Leiter's Jamaican exploits in GF, cleaning out the desk in OHMSS, references to Tracy after OHMSS, Q consistently appearing as the same actor, having the room full of past gadgets in DAD, etc. The only thing is, you cannot interpret the events of these films as literally happening over a 40-year span of time. For Dalton and Brosnan the events of the previous movies still happened, just maybe not exactly as we've seen them.


IMO it sounds more like a prequel then a reboot.

#10 Miles Miservy

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 01:33 PM

I'm sure this thread has been done a million times before, but I thought it was worth current consideration. James Bond, for the majority of his existence, has been a relatively ageless character. He is a man in his thirties-forties, as conceived by Fleming, and in his 50 years on screen is perenially so. Yet after (almost) 23 films and a hard reboot, that pereniallity may not be universally acknowledged among the fans. Let's consider the facts:

From Sean Connery through Roger Moore, the age of the Bond actors was more or less linear. George Lazenby was younger, but not noticeably so. Roger Moore was older than Sean Connery and held onto the role for 12 years. Throughout these years, as Bond physically aged, his continuity was also acknowledged, in his mourning of his wife and battling of Blofeld. The twenty-fifth anniversary film, The Living Daylights, with a Bond who was remarkably younger in appearance (as well as different in character) made us consider: Is this the same Bond as before? Nevertheless, Timothy Dalton's next film, Licence to Kill, established that indeed it was. With the advent of a new Bond, Pierce Brosnan, six years later yet still the same age, we were forced to ask the same question, yet references to him as a "dinosaur" and "relic of the Cold War", along with the items in Q's laboratory in Die Another Day, seemed to reaffirm that this Bond was one and the same. If this Bond, with all of his experiences, had retained Sean Connery's birthdate, he would have been 72 years old.

In 2006 came Casino Royale, with a brand new Bond getting a brand new "origin" story. His birthdate is given as 1968, and so far, with two films taking place in quick succession, references to the previous films have obviously been nonexistant. Few would deny that this new Bond has not had the experiences of his predecessor(s).

My questions are: Before CR, how did you view Bond's age? Did you view him under Dalton and Brosnan as having the experiences of their predecessors in a more compressed, age-appropriate span of time? Or did you view Bond as 72 years old with extremely good genes/skin cream/plastic surgery in DAD?

Perhaps more importantly, how do you view him after CR? Is it a brand new character, reincarnated? Do you consider the previous Bond, of Dr. No - DAD, to have had Bond's CR experience (this may depend on how much you considered Fleming's Bond and the films to be one and the same)? Do you consider them to have had Bond's Quantum of Solace experience? Will you go into Skyfall thinking that this Bond has the experiences of his predecessor(s)?

And finally, if you do consider CraigBond a brand new character, as the majority undoubtedly does, do you think the character suffers from this loss of continuity? I must admit, I enjoyed the previous films knowing that Bond had survived all his past experiences.

I leave it open to you.

Here's a thought... If you were to add up the duration of time devoted to each mission/film, you'd find that MOST of them had lasted between 4 days and a week. There ARE a few exceptions; (GE lasted 9 years... DAD lasted 14 months... OHMSS lasted 4 months... YOLT lasted a little over a month, as did TSWLM. Given that... is it not conceiveble that each film could be a window into OO7's world, just a glimpse ito a certain period of his life?

The fact that he's timeless is the secret to his longevity.

Consider that Bart Simpson has been in the 4th grade since 1990 and you kind of get the idea.

Edited by Miles Miservy, 13 August 2012 - 02:22 PM.


#11 Mr_Wint

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 03:05 PM

The PTS in CR could have been a flashback to Bond's early career... It is only two lines by M that really confirms that CR is an origin story: "I knew it was too early to promote you" and "I give him double-O status and he celebrates by shooting up an embassy". If you remove these two lines, the rest of the film could have been business as usual. It is never mentioned that it is supposed to be his first mission. Bond doesn't actually behave like an amateur...

Anyway, if CR is supposed to show us how Bond became "Bond", then I have to ask: How did Bond's character actually change throughout the movie? It seems like the character we end up with is more or less the same as the character we had before he met Vesper. They are very vague. I mean, he *has* a tuxedo already, it just isn't a tailor-made tuxedo... or is it? Nobody knows.

I think Jesper Christensen tried to explain Bond's character arc once: Bond does not kill Mr. White before finding out what he actually knows. Hence, he has learned his lesson… Christ! Here we have a famous character who is an international superspy. A witty expert baccarat player who can ski both forward and backward, do miracles in any vehicle, speak several languages, is an expert wine connoisseur, trained in naval warfare, has super-natural athletic skills, better dressed than anyone else, can improvise himself out of any situation you can possibly imagine and bed 3 women per day. Yet, it is his ability to ask questions first which the filmmakers feel they have to explain in this origin story.

#12 AndrewBond

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 08:00 PM

The PTS in CR could have been a flashback to Bond's early career... It is only two lines by M that really confirms that CR is an origin story: "I knew it was too early to promote you" and "I give him double-O status and he celebrates by shooting up an embassy". If you remove these two lines, the rest of the film could have been business as usual. It is never mentioned that it is supposed to be his first mission. Bond doesn't actually behave like an amateur...

Anyway, if CR is supposed to show us how Bond became "Bond", then I have to ask: How did Bond's character actually change throughout the movie? It seems like the character we end up with is more or less the same as the character we had before he met Vesper. They are very vague. I mean, he *has* a tuxedo already, it just isn't a tailor-made tuxedo... or is it? Nobody knows.

I think Jesper Christensen tried to explain Bond's character arc once: Bond does not kill Mr. White before finding out what he actually knows. Hence, he has learned his lesson… Christ! Here we have a famous character who is an international superspy. A witty expert baccarat player who can ski both forward and backward, do miracles in any vehicle, speak several languages, is an expert wine connoisseur, trained in naval warfare, has super-natural athletic skills, better dressed than anyone else, can improvise himself out of any situation you can possibly imagine and bed 3 women per day. Yet, it is his ability to ask questions first which the filmmakers feel they have to explain in this origin story.


I've stated my feelings about this in another thread, which I'll requote here:
"...rather than simply a "marketing gimmick", I think it did make for a great story. Of course, Bond was "Bond" in every practical sense the entire time, that was on display the whole film (except for the harmless gimmicky stuff like "Mathis, Rene Mathis","shaken or stirred", winning the Aston Martin - although the scene where Vesper gives him a "proper" dinner jacket was disturbing and nonsensical). The film was about Bond becoming Bond emotionally. The crux of CR is about a man, already stunted emotionally, endowed with a license to kill, who after a particularly shocking first mission realizes he's about to lose what's left of his soul if he doesn't stop now. That chance is taken away from him in an extremely cynical manner - the woman he loves betrays him to save another man's life and kills herself from shame when she fails - which solidifies Bond into the man we've known over 20 previous films who kills without regret as many as the women he disposes of."

CR is sort of a prequel. That's why now when I watch the previous Bonds, I imagine them having had the same experiences with Vesper at the Casino Royale, much as I imagine Fleming readers did when watching Sean Connery's in medias res Bond in Dr. No.

And finally, if you do consider CraigBond a brand new character, as the majority undoubtedly does, do you think the character suffers from this loss of continuity? I must admit, I enjoyed the previous films knowing that Bond had survived all his past experiences.

No, not really. In fact, I'm glad the reboot Bond has lost a lot of that baggage. The filmmakers are free at this point to do whatever they want without having to honor any continuity. This gives them the freedom to try a lot of new things and push it in new directions that may not have been possible before. How brave they'll be with that freedom, however, is still up in the air.


I agree it's a shame Craig was cast in the "reboot" era so it's almost like his James Bond has nothing to do with the previous actors legacy or 40 years of films.


To be fair, at this point, CraigBond as a "hard reboot" doesn't really matter. Even if he was introduced just like DaltonBond and BrosnanBond, he wouldn't be able to be referred to as a "Cold Warrior" like them, because at his age he would have just been leaving the Naval Academy at the end of it. Craig is the first Bond to whom the previous eras could not have applied, minus a few of Brosnan's films perhaps.

At the other end of the spectrum, CraigBond has been saddled with the same baggage that his predecessors had. He had a great love and lost her, and went on a quest for revenge against the shadowy organization responsible. These were the only events the previous films referred to, and now future Bonds can refer to them to, swapping out the names Tracy, SPECTRE, and Blofeld for Vesper, Quantum, and whoever. And that's not entirely without precedent. EON were banned from using the latter two names after Kevin McClory's lawsuit, and by Licence to Kill, direct references to Tracy were gone. The whole film takes place in that context with the only mention being "He was married once...a long time ago".

With the advent of home video and the Internet, today's Bond viewers might be more aware of OHMSS than LTK viewers were. It remains to be seen whether they'll ever attempt to marry Bond again, although I have to admit if the question ever comes up in a future film and he's noted as never married, I might cringe.

Edited by AndrewBond, 13 August 2012 - 08:01 PM.


#13 David_M

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:30 AM

I don't think the Connery-thru-Moore films have a hard-and-fast "continuity," even if there are little bits here and there that connected them. If it WERE all the life story of one man, wouldn't he, for example, stop at some point in the middle of his Stromberg mission and say, "Hey wait a minute, this is just like that SPECTRE plot in Japan, only with submarines this time!" And so on.

Having said that, there is a "through-line" of sorts in that both Connery and Moore can -- if only barely -- pass as WWII-era veteran Navy officers with links to the old England of gentlemen's clubs and vintage Bentleys and all those trappings that even in Fleming's era were dying out. All of that went out the window -- if quietly and without my noticing at first -- with the arrival of Dalton and Brosnan. When they showed up, Bond became (as he had been already to some extent) more an archetype, a character unfettered by the realities of time and age, but on the other hand also without that rich sense of history and ties to the traditions of English heroic fiction.

With Craig, and the official establishing of a new timeline (starting with a Vietnam-era birthdate), the ties to the old "continuity" were completely cut. And really, I don't care so much that this Bond never met Dr No or Goldfinger or Blofeld. If anything bothers me, it's that he's no longer connected, even tenuously, to that old world of men-only clubs like Blades, where everyone still goes by "Admiral This" and "Major That" even though they've been out of uniform for decades, and smoke their pipes and cigars and drink their brandy and sherry and pine (and perhaps plot) for the return of the Empire. Now he's too young to have had any first-hand knowledge of the Empire's "glory days." An old-line Navy Commander who exits the war only to continue on risking life and limb for queen and country is quite a different beast from a rough-and-tumble ex-SAS man who seems drawn to danger and violence more by nature than duty. Just the fact that his first and only boss in the service is a woman and not his former commanding Admiral changes the dynamic considerably.

Which is to say, I don't think the early Bonds have a coherent continuity, but they could be plausibly taken as all happening to the same character. The Craig films feature a different fellow altogether and so far, at least, there's much more of a sense of continuity between and within those films. To the point, in fact, where if Craig continues on for another three or four films, they'll pretty much have to start over again with the next guy.

#14 ChickenStu

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 01:34 PM

Nah. Got nothing here. Tried to reconcile a few things in my head... but there's always something else to contradict it. Basically, Dr. No to Die Another Day exist in one continuity, Casino Royale to Skyfall take place in a new one. Simple. The "M" in the Brosnan movies and the "M" in the Craig movies are two different incarnations of her character - the only link simply being they are played by the same actress. 

 

That's it. Simple. 

 

The thing is, does anyone really care? As much as I love this stuff - they are only movies. With all the unrealistic things that go on in them - it tickles me that some people get tied up in debating something relatively trivial as "continuity". I'm more bothered about how the hell Our Man surfed on that tsunami. 



#15 billy007

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 05:26 AM

I've used this quote before:

"Use continuity as a tool not a guide"

                                         Denny O'Neil

 

Accept CR, QoS and Skyfall as the reboot- any references to previous films as homages.

Dr. No through DAD was the same 007 during different times of his career. Acceptit as a sliding time scale(similar to comics) 1 year of :Bond time" equals 5 years of "real time"



#16 tdalton

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 05:36 AM


Accept CR, QoS and Skyfall as the reboot- any references to previous films as homages.

Dr. No through DAD was the same 007 during different times of his career. Acceptit as a sliding time scale(similar to comics) 1 year of :Bond time" equals 5 years of "real time"

 

That's exactly how the franchise's continuity (or lack thereof) should be viewed. 



#17 glidrose

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 06:51 PM

In Fleming's books, Bond aged one year - from 37 to 38 - between Moonraker and You Only Live Twice, which is a difference of nine years.

#18 Walecs

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 08:25 PM

In Fleming's books, Bond aged one year - from 37 to 38 - between Moonraker and You Only Live Twice, which is a difference of nine years.

 

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