My Project Bond research continues apace – if by “apace” you mean “very very slowly, but at least I haven’t abandoned the project totally, so there’s that.”
Live and Let Die is the second book in the original James Bond series by Ian Fleming, and this is my second read of the book. I just reread my first review of it (handily found here), and there’s really not a whole lot I want to add to it, to be honest.
[[Holy shit, I actually did a kindof okay job reviewing a book? I can read that review and know the majority of the plot, and nothing was spoiled, and in addition, there’s also some literary criticism? Maybe I’m not completely pants at this thing like I thought maybe I was?? I’m scared too, you guys. Don’t worry, I’ll be back to being shite at this sometime next week.]]
I can say that I’ve added three movies to the list of Bond movies I’ve watched: Moonraker, Spectre, Skyfall – digression, but it’s so weird to me that my first review of this book was before Skyfall came out. I mean, that is weird. Is it weird to find something you may have written, like a journal entry, or something from a diary you wrote in years past, where when you were writing that, you had no idea what was going to happen, and then an event happens and it changes your perception of other things?
Like, when I originally reviewed Live and Let Die, my favorite Bond movie was still a tie between Goldfinger (because Goldfinger is the universally-acknowledged Best Bond Anything Ever, No, You’re Wrong, Shut Up), and Casino Royale (because reasons, namely the scene where Le Chiffre tortures Bond in the chair) (holy shit when I first reviewed Live and Let Die I did not know that Mads Mikkleson would soon rise from relative Bond Villain obscurity to the King of Cannibals, Hannibal Lecter. I didn’t know Hannibal was a thing!! That’s so weird to me right now).
[[Also, super!digression, but speaking of Hannibal, Facebook reminded me that one year ago today was when I learned of Hannibal‘s cancellation. I would like to link you to that finger-quotes “review,” because that post — along with the above-linked finger-quotes “review” of Moonraker — is easily in my top five favorite blog posts I’ve ever written. Cheers. And also, the person who left the voicemail wasn’t actually Hannibal.]]
So back then, I didn’t really have an inkling of wanting to talk about James Bond. Casino Royale was good, but it wasn’t genre-shattering or anything. But Skyfall – you know what, I’ll get into this as I write my Project Bond book, but, haters to the goddamned left, Skyfall is a fucking masterpiece.
It wasn’t until Skyfall that I saw potential in digging into Bond’s character. Sam Mendes did so much with the character – giving him even more of an emotional tie to M, his backstory with the Skyfall lodge – it intrigued me. In addition, people were all up in arms over the fact that the gadgets and Bond girls were taking a backseat that they hated the movie, and I just wanted to prove them wrong.
Then, the whole, FUCK THIS GUY over Idris Elba being “too street” to play Bond last fall, and ta-da. Project X was born.
One thing that I did notice in this re-read was the usage of death imagery. Even more than just the title, Bond and the villain, Mr. Big, both spend a couple of paragraphs each talking about their attitudes towards death. One could also argue that Mr. Big is described in a way to evoke the idea that Mr. Big is Bond’s intellectual equal. A big (sorry) deal is made over Mr. Big’s genius, and the only person who comes close to ending his criminal empire (or, spoiler alert!, who does end said empire) is James Bond.
There’s a quote from Auric Goldfinger in the movie named for him, where he describes his desire to be the best criminal in the world, and I believe the same speech could be applied to Mr. Big:
Man has climbed Mt. Everest; gone to the bottom of the ocean. He’s fired rockets at the moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor … except crime!
I look forward to delving deeper into Bond as a character. Hopefully just in time for them to realize that Gillian Anderson is the optimal choice to play James Bond.