James Bond is a simple secret agent based on the books by Ian Fleming that were first created in the early 1950s, but has become an international British legend and the most successful film franchise ever. In forty years, twenty films have been made starring five different actors, each film being as brilliant and unique as the previous one. The Bond formula has remained successful because of the large number of differences and similarities between each film as well as the many simple characteristics of the Bond franchise.
The charm, wit and heroic figure of James Bond has for many years made men want to be Bond and women want to be with Bond. Over the forty years, James Bond has developed many trademarks which are due to the effects of music, action, special editing and of course the unique plot of each film thought up by Ian Fleming. The opening sequence of every Bond film starts off with Bond in a dinner suit walking across the screen with a point-of-view shot from the barrel of a gun.
Bond then abruptly turns and shoots the person aiming the gun; blood pours down the screen, and then cuts to the next shot. Every time a person watches this sequence, they can immediately establish that it is a James Bond film – not only due to the special editing, but also the music. Bond has a world famous theme tune which is another trademark. In both the credit scenes of Goldfinger and Goldeneye, the soundtrack is sung by women with very strong, powerful voices who are Tina Turner and Shirley Bassie.
The title of the film is continuously mentioned in the song and onscreen, there are silhouettes of girls or reflections of them on gold. This effect helps the audience to establish the genre of the film. The way Bond is introduced into each film usually has an impact on the audience. In Goldeneye, the audience sees a man on a mission dressed in black, however they are denied the man’s identity, therefore many questions are raised such as “Who is that? ” and “What is he doing? “. Suspense builds when the man does a bungee jump and the audience wonders why and whether he will survive or not.
During this sequence, sound effects also add to the tension with plenty of diagetic sounds such as his footsteps, the plane and the loud gate. As the bungee jump is performed, there is a long silent and dramatic pause that is then broken by the sound of a gunshot which turns out to be one of Bond’s numerous gadgets to draw him safely towards the ground. These all give the effect of action, drama and mystery which thrill the audience because it is exactly what they expect from a Bond film.
In other films, Bond does not always appear in the opening sequence, and for instance, other men, whose identities are denied, will appear during the action and then may get killed to mislead the audience to wonder whether that was Bond who just died. However in Goldfinger, Bond enters in a wetsuit underwater, in low key lighting with a seagull on his head as a disguise. This time the only mystery is what Bond is up to but the use of a seagull creates humour and cuts any tension there may be within the audience.
The audience then simply has to watch as Bond typically plants a bomb in the building. Once he completes this task, he simply removes his wetsuit to reveal an immaculately dressed secret agent in a dinner suit. This is a typical image of James Bond – tiny characteristics such as his sartorial elegance is exactly what makes him such a unique character. In the opening sequence of Goldeneye, the loud diagetic sound of a plane is heard from a helicopter shot of an enormous dam which cuts straight to the man on a mission.
The helicopter shot achieves the image of one man against an immense monolithic adversary which emphasises Bonds heroic figure. It is also clear to see that James Bond is typically British with his unusual politeness as well as his accent and dialogue. For example, in Goldeneye, he sneaks up on an enemy in the toilets and just before he punches the man, Bond says, “Beg your pardon, forgot to knock. ” It is his iconic Englishness that also makes Bond a unique and memorable secret agent. James Bond is admired by women for his good looks and charms; however he does not always appear to be the perfect gentleman.
Bond easily knows how to seduce a woman, by simply using his charms, although the audience does notice how quickly his behaviour changes in different situations. In Goldfinger, he is seen with three different women in the first few scenes alone. After seducing each one, he first uses one woman as a shield against an attacking enemy, and then later dismisses a woman in a rude and sexist manner. He appears to be charming but is remorselessly brutal when he needs to be. The way Bond quickly seduces different women, but never thinks about a more long-term partner emphasises the idea of working alone.
James Bond is always working by himself – never as part of a team and this also adds to his brave and heroic figure. There is always a villain in every Bond film, usually just as brutal as Bond and will do anything to defeat him. In Goldeneye the smartly dressed villain enters with an army of men aiming guns at Bond. When one of the men try to shoot Bond after being ordered not to, he is immediately shot by the villain. Similarly to Bond, the villain is brutal and feels no remorse for his actions.
It seems the villain can never be any real threat towards Bond because all James Bond films have become predictable to a certain extent and the audience knows that the chances of Bond being killed are almost impossible. It is the special features of every Bond film such as the character of Bond, girls, villains, cars, gadgets, his iconic Englishness and of course the plot, which is what makes the Bond formula so successful. The James Bond franchise is so successful that spoofs have been created to try and match its fame, such as Austin Powers, but of course these could never match the success achieved by Bond.