On Bond

He beats people up and makes stuff explode…


“When I wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument…”
— Ian Fleming.

En ciertas ocasiones, esta premisa básica aparece en las adaptaciones cinematográficas que han encumbrado a este espía literario a la longevidad y popularidad absoluta. Es esta casi imperceptible cualidad (opacada por el estruendo de sus acciones y la tecnología de punta que lo acompaña) la que lo define por entre los demás héroes que se mueven en un área gris dentro del entretenimiento alternativo.

Esto se refuerza con la notable ausencia de cintas de Bond entre 1989 y 1995, un ciclo de 6 años que no pareciera tan grande pero que efectivamente lo es, donde los esfuerzos de un Timothy Dalton por hacer resurgir esos matices oscuros dentro de la psique de Bond fueran cortados de tajo por la indiferencia (siendo un blood-and-revenge film, Licence to Kill pareciera que no encajaba en los tiempos del blockbuster multimillonario y los personajes en evidentes tonos de blanco y negro).

Y tras ese vacío surge un esfuerzo sumamente memorable como GoldenEye (Martin Campbell, 1995) donde Pierce Brosnan se convierte en ese ‘blunt instrument’ al que se refiere Fleming, con una atinada pizca de modernidad la cual choca con su raison d’être para el cual fuese confeccionado por el aparato gubernamental británico. Sin embargo, dicha luz se diluye de nueva cuenta por un ruidoso y sumanente blando espectáculo visual en posteriores entregas de esta saga, dando al traste con estas posibilidades narrativas. Un segundo hueco de 2002 a 2006 que sin duda alguna parecería ETERNO deja también un sinnúmero de planes en el tintero, trabajos de casting infructuosos y problemas de índole legal.

Pero también dejó que la imaginación de muchos corriera rampante para resolver este enigma de hacer funcionar a Bond de una vez por todas, como por ejemplo Warren Ellis, uno de mis escritores predilectos.

Es en esa época de incertidumbre para Bond que el autor nos confiesa su obsesión por una oportunidad de relatar algún día sus aventuras.

Enjoy.

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Bond
Warren Ellis
Brainjuice
Publicado originalmente en 2002

There are very few existing properties that I’d be interested in writing. I like making up my own stories. As far as I’m concerned, that is in fact the job description of “writer”.

There aren’t many pre-existing characters that I could be tempted with. I’ve resisted the temptation to do 2000AD properties I remain fond of.

I couldn’t do JUDGE DREDD better than John Wagner, and, in fact, neither can anyone else, so I’ve denied myself the pleasure of solving story structures by having a huge bastard in green boots walk in and kill everybody.

A JUDGE DREDD/TRANSMETROPOLITAN crossover book was suggested to me by DREDD publishers Fleetway once. I told them that it would be precisely one page long. Spider Jerusalem lights a cigarette. Judge Dredd shoots him. The end.

But if someone asked me to write a James Bond film, you wouldn’t see my arse for dust.

Sad, innit?

I’ve read most of the Ian Fleming novels, seen most of the films once they’ve come to TV. I’m not a fanatic by any means. But James Bond exerts a terrible fascination nonetheless. I even did an interview piece on how I’d write Bond for a Texan newspaper a couple of years ago. So did Bruce Sterling, who offered a disturbing opinion about Bond as a shaven-headed Ibiza DJ.

You’re going to hell for that one, Bruce, and you will discover that Satan is English.

The books are notably less spectacular and far more low-key than the films. Dr. No was a crazed guano millionaire and had no nuclear missiles, spaceship-eaters or any of the good stuff we associate with Bond Villains.

Tiger Tanaka’s great test of Bond was making him compose a naff haiku.

It’s often quite bland stuff, great long travelogues and pages describing banquets and furniture. In the guts of it, though, is Bond as a scarred man with clear psychological damage, often on the edge of being removed from service by M on mental health grounds.

It’s made stridently obvious that being on the 00 detail of the Secret Service is a job that fucks you up.

Bond is not a superman. He prevails because he is quite simply nastier and more determined to wreak utter bloody havoc than the next guy.

In some ways — and I don’t think Fleming was unaware of this — he is what Allen Ginsberg called “bleak male energy,” causing and taking immense damage in single-minded pursuit of what he wants.

At the conclusion of You Only Live Twice, the front end of his personality essentially rubbed out by torture, drugs, multiple trauma and a sequence of horrible mental hammerblows, there is an almost disturbing glimpse of an amnesiac Bond as gentle, open, devoted, and almost sweet.

And his lover dreads the day that he recovers.

He is England’s blunt instrument of international assault — the spiteful, vicious bastard of a faded empire that still wants the world to do as it’s bloody well told.

Most importantly; he beats people up and makes stuff explode.

The films try to recoil from Bond the bastard, most obviously in the later, parodic Roger Moore horrors. But in Connery, in Dalton and even in Pierce Brosnan, Bond’s essential ruthlessness comes through.

Wolf-eyed Timothy Dalton had the best shot at being truly frightening, but he was hamstrung by some horrible scripts, and I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did. Clive Owen is pretty much the only choice to take over after Brosnan, and I’d assume that a serious overhaul of the franchise would have to accompany that.

I can be contacted via agent Angela Cheng Caplan at The Cheng Caplan Company, if there are any producers on serious medication out there. Because both me and Bruce were right; James Bond needs to reflect his times.

But I wouldn’t make him a DJ.

And stuff would blow up really good.

Yes.

I think maybe I need another drink now.

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Proféticamente este sentido análisis y sus conclusiones cobran vida propia cuando en 2006 Martin Campbell regresa para darle forma y una dimensión inmejorable al agudo, vertiginoso, de tintes cruentos pero humanista screenplay de Casino Royale, creado con maestría por Neal Purvis, Robert Wade y Paul Haggis.

Daniel Craig ofrece quizás su papel definitivo en el cine como ese instrumento de violencia y acorde a la visión de Fleming, donde por vez primera el artificio, stunts y efectos visuales son herramientas sobre las que Bond se sirve para darle sentido a su desoladora existencia sin ser esclavo de ellas, marcando un nuevo renacimiento de excelente manufactura para el super espía más famoso de todos.