The Portrayal of James Bond

casino-royale_smallDiscussion Questions for Martin Campbell’s “Casino Royale” 

Collect some background information about Ian Fleming (1908-64) who created the “James Bond” series of spy novels. What was the source of inspiration for his Bond novels? How many Bond novels did he write and how were they received? What were the main and/or common themes in Fleming’s James Bond series?

Do some research to find out by which actors James Bond has been portrayed over the years on the big screen. Take some notes on how these actors’ portrayals have constructed the Bond identity. Is there a fixed Bond identity or is there a change in the portrayals of Bond? Discuss why/why not. Also find out in what way(s) the Bond identity is associated with “Britishness”.

Identify what generic qualities Bond films have and make a list of these. How could they help you understand Bond films?

Do some research about the Bond girls. How are they positioned in Bond films? How are other women positioned in Bond films? Is there a pattern or is there a change in their portrayals?

Do some research about the villains in Bond films. How do they function? At macro level,  how are they thematically linked to political, economic, social issues in modern world?

According to Klaus Dodds (2012), “Bond is big business”. Discuss what the reasons for this could be.

At the very beginning of Martin Campbell’s “Casino Royale”,  Bond is introduced to 00 status. Comment on the significance of the visual style used in this part of the film. In addition, comment on the portrayal of Bond in this sequence. How is Bond’s body depicted? How would you describe it? Is it possible to say that Craig’s portrayal demonstrates some change in the previous depictions of Bond? Why? Why not?

Watch the opening credit sequence of the film closely: What visual qualities does it have? What do they reveal about about the film?

Discuss the portrayal of Bond/the Bond body in the Africa sequence.

In the early part of the film, Solange is depicted in Bond’s suite at the club. How are Solange and Bond positioned in this sequence?

What could the “BodyWorlds Exhibit” signify in the film? What could be the reason for the director’s emphasis on “bodies”?

What could be the symbolic value of the poker table sequence where we see Bond and LeChiffre?

How are men and women portrayed at the Casino?

Bond is poisoned at the poker table and has to leave the Casino. Examine his portrayal in the car when he goes into a cardiac arrest. In what way(s) could his portrayal be symbolic here? What does his portrayal reveal about Bond’s heroic qualities?

In “Casino Royale” we see Bond coming out of the sea in two different sequences. How is his body depicted and how does the director position Bond, Vesper and us (the audience) in these sequences?

Examine the torture sequence where Bond has an assault on his scrotum. What could this sequence tell us about Bond’s masculine and heroic qualities? Does he lose these qualities? Why? Why not?

Examine and discuss the portrayal of Vesper “as a Bond girl” in “Casino Royale”.

Do some research about how Daniel Craig’s characterization of Bond has been received by movie critics and Bond fans. What arguments do they have? To what extent do you agree with them? What is your own impression of James Bond as an icon?


Useful video and link:

Deutsche Welle: Bond girls through the ages

Useful reading:

On the Trail of 007: Media Pilgrimages into the World of James Bond. Stijn Reijnders. Area Vol. 42 No. 3, pp. 369–377, 2010.
Shaken and Stirred. Klaus Dodds. History Today. October 2012.
“I Know Where You Keep Your Gun”: Daniel Craig as the Bond-Bond Girl Hybrid in Casino Royale. Lisa Funnell. The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 44, No. 3, 2011.
Roger Moore on Why Daniel Craig Is the Best James Bond Ever and What 007 Role He’s Dying to Play. Glen Levy. Time Entertainment. November 9, 2012.

© Ali Nihat Eken, Istanbul, January 31 2013


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