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Essay about Dalton's Bond

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#1 O.H.M.S.S.


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Posted 31 December 2010 - 12:06 PM

Hi folks, I am writing an essay about James Bond for my English course. I'll have to hand it in tomorrow and I was wondering if you people, as fellow Bond fans, could have a look at it. Mind you, English is not my maternal language, so any mistakes or unnatural contructions are very welcome to be corrected. Also, it would be appreciated if you gave your personal opinion on my views. This is only a draft and I am still looking how to improve it. But anyway, here it is:

Timothy Dalton was the James Bond actor who came closest to the source material

When general audiences think about the James Bond movies, obviously Sean Connery and Roger Moore pop up into their minds. Completely logical of course as before 1986 there had only been one Bond film (though many consider George Lazenby's one and only Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) as the best Bond ever, the movie is not as well known by the public) without either of them. Both were very well known for their different styles of portraying the character. While Connery was more of a irresistible macho man, Moore's performances were generally more light-hearted and humorous.

Timothy Dalton introduced a new Bond to the world in 1987. After seven official Bond movies Roger Moore ended his long-term career as the gentleman spy after A View to a Kill (1985), and it was obvious the franchise needed a new and fresh approach. Welsh actor Timothy Dalton was considered before, back in the sixties, but refused because he found himself too young for the role. Dalton's approach was completely different from the one of his predecessor. He was considerably more serious and less humorous. As a Shakespearean actor Dalton had the advantage of great acting skills to make the character his own.

Although Connery was also a serious Bond, Dalton was more human. In his only two movies The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989) he expresses lots of human emotions such as worry, frustration, revenge-seeking, love and angriness. In The Living Daylights he witnesses the death of one of his fellow agents, what follows is a moment of blind rage in which he almost attacks a mother and child. In the same movie he finds himself falling in love with a Czechoslovak cello player and stays with her for the entire movie. This is completely in contrast with his predecessors who were more playboy types hitting on different women in one movie. Even more telling is how he leaves the secret service and goes on a personal vendetta in Licence to Kill to revenge the assault on his best friend.

What really makes him the very best of the bunch is that his portrayal is the closest to the character which was described by creator Ian Fleming in the original novels. Not surprisingly Dalton read all 12 Ian Fleming novels and his two collections of short stories before tackling the role. He knew exactly how the character was like and how he should portray him on the big screen. The literary James Bond does not like his job, he doesn't like killing. He drinks, eats and smokes a lot and although he is a snob he doesn't do these things out of decadence but he enjoys such expensive items out of knowledge he has a short life expectancy and he has to savour every moment.

Finally, another important aspect is that Dalton was a very realistic Bond. Not in the slightest possible way because he was a very human Bond. Also because one can notice he is a very physical actor as well. Dalton was eager to do most of the stunts himself, although producer Albert R. Broccoli wasn't very satisfied with that. On a side note it has to be said that one-time Bond Lazenby was also very human and physical. After all, while Connery and Moore had undoubtedly an impact on the cultural influence of the Bond franchise, it were Lazenby and Dalton who can be considered as most faithful to the source material. Ironically they starred in the fewest films of them all.

the Belgian connection ;)

#2 Safari Suit

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 01:51 PM

It seems pretty good. The only thing I'd say is do you have to include references? If so I would make sure you try and find references relevant to statements like "not as well known by the public", while things like that may seem like a logical conclusion in my experience markers pick up on it. If you've got space I would also briefly expand/elaborte on your theories about Lazenby, so your conclusion seems like a logical follow on from your essay :)

#3 Dell Deaton

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 02:25 PM

Headline: You say this is an essay, but your headline strikes me as argumentative (which I do not mean to say is negative, but, rather, to point out that an argument implies certain things will follow in the piece as it unfolds). If this is not your intent, consider something like, "Unique attributes of Timothy Dalton's portrayal of James Bond that made it closely tie to the literary concept of 007 creator Ian Fleming." Personally, I agree with your opening proposition.

Paragraph 1. Not sure this is set up as you'd like. If it's present tense, then you have to mention Daniel Craig, who may well come more to mind among current audiences than anyone else you've named. Otherwise, set it up from the perspective of 1987 (or 1989) and approach it that way. Drop the stuff about George Lazenby: You spend a lot of written real-estate about something that is a tangent, and, more importantly, is unsupported in what's written.

Paragraph 2. I don't know that it's as obvious as you imply that the story needed a "fresh" start simply because Roger Moore had made seven movies. Regarding Moore, there was the issue that the actor needed to be replaced due to his age; so there's that. More importantly, the movie franchise was approximately 25 years old, there had been a lot of EON-formula movies, plus the 1983 and 1967 alternatives, the TV version of Casino Royale, alternatives such as Get Smart, Wild Wild West; and the character of Bond dated to 1952. In other words, the question was had 007 run out of puff?

More serious and less humorous strike me as the same thing. Either way, this is a point where I'd bring in that that was how Fleming wrote Bond, particularly the early Bond. And that Dalton had an ability to capture that. Additionally, he was a huge fan of Fleming, respected Fleming, and perhaps as no one before him, actually felt that Fleming's Bond could translate to the big screen and had an idea of how he could do that.

Paragraph 3. Was Connery a "serious" Bond, or is the point that he was a "tough" Bond?

Connery was a more "emotional" James Bond than, in my opinion, was Roger Moore. Sincerely so. This includes his expression of "fear" to Honey in Dr No's lair, and, in another example, the distraction in his Aston Martin where he has to "discipline" himself not to divert and follow the girl in the Mustang. Fleming's Bond was impulsive. So, a good point to illustrate here. Now, did Dalton's Bond almost attack a mother and child, which suggests to me that he's acting-out? Or did he almost make an error in his state of mind reacting to Saunders' death? I think it was the latter.

Paragraph 4. Again, argumentative to say he's the best; also, risks begging reaction vis-a-vis Daniel Craig. I agree with you that he's the closest to Fleming, no matter how you cut it. But to "argue" that requires something more here, it seems to me. So you might simply want to leave it as an illustration of "how" he was so very close to the literature. Bond also drank as a coping mechanism, as in the example from the Goldfinger novel. Seems to me that this is a significant thing lost after the novels; while I have no issue with the one-liner as a means of story-telling comic relief, or, in the particular character context, dealing with the horror of taking another life, I think that the aspect of drinking to forget was something Fleming understood quite well, described quite well, and which was not mere hedonism.

Paragraph 5. I'd rather see you look at details here, rather than stunts. Think of Dalton's comma of black hair. Think of, as he got more into the role, changing Bond's watch from the Heuers he wore in The Living Daylights to the Rolex in Licence to Kill.

Doing one's own stunts is Hollywood spin. Today, it's about differentiating an approach from CGI. But, come on: They are wearing cables, being shot at with guns filled with blanks, landing on piles of foam mats. How does that make them "truer" to James Bond? It's as irrelevant as talking about drinking real alcohol in their martinis and actually having relations with their female co-stars. Let 'em do it all in one take, shoot the movie in real time to show they have the stamina, and then we'll talk.

To me, then, you're closing paragraph should at least touch on why Dalton didn't play Bond longer and why he is not more widely respected.

Was it the lawsuit that deprived him of momentum? Was it the end of the Cold War? Was it that audiences weren't ready for him? This is where you might choose to look at Pierce Brosnan for similarities and differences ("lessons learned") immediately following. And even Daniel Craig of today, for things coming full circle (or, arguably, a completely different direction, if you don't see Craig as so much "Fleming's Bond" as "also Bourne").

Hope this helps.

#4 DR76


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Posted 02 January 2011 - 02:32 AM

I don't know if I agree with your comment that Sean Connery was a serious Bond. Perhaps in "DR. NO" and "FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE" (well, most of it), but I don't think he was a serious Bond in his other four movies.

One thing I can say about Dalton's Bond . . . his performance had influenced the characterizations of a good number of spies in movies and television, following his tenure. I would say that Kiefer Sutherland, Matthew McFaydden, Rupert Penry-Jones, Richard Armitage, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig and God knows how many actors who have portrayed spies in the past 20 years may (or may not) have been influenced by Dalton's portrayal of Bond.