The name’s Bond. James Bond. Shaken not stirred. Licensed to kill. I could go on.
Last week, Roger Moore, who graced the screen as the iconic British spy during the 1970s and 80s, passed away aged 89. With a film and TV career spanning six decades, he exuded glamour and subdued good humour, his raised eyebrow perhaps his most defining motif.
So what did we love about Roger Moore’s Bond?
Firstly, in the 1970s, Roger Moore’s era, James Bond made us feel safe. Scaramanga, Blofeld, Drax, these were villains we loved to fear. With bottomless pockets, they somehow managed to finance a plan to achieve world domination. Or global destruction. But we always knew that 007 would come to the rescue.
Back then, we tended to view the world in binary terms – the West was good, the Soviet Union bad. It’s not so clear any more. Since 9/11 and the war in Iraq, the lines between good and evil, us and them, have become blurred. Our distrust of our own government has grown. And since the Manchester bombing, we’ve started to worry about the capacity of our own spies, MI5, to keep us safe. After all, it’s impossible to track every ‘potential terrorist’ with limited resources. So, the world feels more insecure, less safe.
Secondly, in the 70s, Bond represented a culture we believed in. And we were winners. When the British flag was unfurled in Bond movies, it triggered a sense of patriotism in many film lovers. It represented democracy, a bulwark against Communism, the Cuban Missile Crisis still a relatively recent memory. Not so any more. British society has become fragmented. There is no agreement on British values. Indeed it generates contentious debate. Dare I say we don’t know what we stand for any more?
But does James Bond tap into something deeper in us?
Perhaps the most significant desire that James Bond, and indeed any hero evokes in us, is one for a salvation figure. When Bond finally triumphed, he saved the world, he saved us. And it’s profoundly satisfying to be saved.
Of course, all movie heroes are dim shadows of the only salvation figure who can truly fulfil all our desires. Christ alone makes us safe, and in him we’re offered ultimate security. But perhaps best of all, we can be sure he’s trustworthy.
After all, his word is his bond.