Thursday, September 13, 2012

50th Anniversary Bond Rewatch "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977)

As a fan of the popcorn, guilty pleasure, mindless entertainment aspect of the Bond series of films, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the films with the company of my brain. Maybe there is more to be found than escapism. Maybe some of the culture and thinking of the past 50 years has left its imprint…

I’m going to go ahead and spoil this middle section of the rewatch and declare that this is the best Roger Moore entry. That is thanks entirely to a return to form in the technical department. Gone is the gritty, seventies “realism.” This film looks cinematic. The art direction is classic. The effects and gadgets are interesting and fun. All that being said, we still have to deal with the out of place cartoony moments, the sexual addiction that Moore has taken to a comical level, and the story.

Well, to be fair the story is better than that of the past three films at least. There is an attempt to tell a tale that is original and one that has international stakes befitting a spy of Bond’s stature. And, in the vein of “From Russia” or “Secret Service” this is a love story. Well, as much a love story as one gets with a hopeless womanizer for a main character.

Britain and Russia each send their best agent on duplicate missions. It just so happens that Russia’s best agent is a woman. Unfortunately, her spy lover has just been killed and she is out for revenge. Before she can find out that Bond is the man she wants to kill, she has sex with him and…

(What is it with James Bond and sex? It is almost put forth as some sort of super or magical power he has. We have been asked to believe at least ten times now that all he has to do is look at a woman and she will want to sleep with him, but beyond that, sex with Bond makes evil women turn good, uncooperative woman become allies, and lesbian women become straight.)

This is another one of the failed attempts in the Bond franchise to shake their woman problem. They think they have given us a “strong” female character. She is Bond’s equal because she is a spy and can do anything he can. This is typical of the cultural problem of sexism that was not helped by feminism. Women are not seen as valuable in their own right; there is an attempt to see women as men. The sophomoric nature of the Bond stories further undercuts this because they create women who use their sexual appeal to be even stronger than the men they come up against, but Bond himself has a sexual magic that defeats them.

In this case, our female super-spy discovers that Bond killed the love of her life, feels the need to avenge her lover, but can’t because she had sex with Bond and is now helplessly in love with him.

Pathetic.

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