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James Bond movies and The Cold War

samedi 6 août 2011 par Joëlle Mirabaud

TPE européen en ES, par AGATI Lolita, LASNE Flore et THIEBAUT François.

Part 1 : Characters
Part 2 : Places
Part 3 : Symbols and technological devices

We have always been interested in linking history and the cinema industry. That’s why we have chosen the theme "Image" and have focused on the Cold War for the historical background.
The Cold War is a term used to describe the post-World War II opposition between two antagonistic blocks : a Western one under the leadership of the USA and an Eastern one under the leadership of the USSR (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). It lasted from 1947 to the early 1980’s and took different aspects : diplomatic, political, economic… and also cultural. Indeed, as all the major historical periods, the Cold War is characterized by emblematic elements such as "the Iron Curtain", "the Berlin wall and Charlie check point", the "Bay of pigs"… and also the growth of espionage.
In that context, it was quite natural that Hollywood would make the espionage theme a "cultural weapon" in that Cold War.
The most famous spy is James Bond whose creator is Ian Fleming, a British novelist who worked during WW II for the Foreign Office of UK as a spy just like his fantasy hero. In 1939, his first assignment was in the Soviet Union, then he had some important missions such as the supervising of the escape of Dieppe in 1940. After WW II, he travelled a lot, particularly in the USA and in Jamaica. From 1952 to his death in 1964, he wrote James Bond novels which stage James Bond, a British spy. Those novels were adapted for the cinema and a lot of James Bond movies were shot during the Cold War.

Our project is based on four of them which are Dr No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Moonraker (1979), and GoldenEye (1995). We’ve chosen Dr No and From Russia with Love because they were the first James Bond movies and so played a key role in establishing the character of Bond as an icon in popular culture. From Russia with love is thought by many to be the best James Bond movie. Moreover, they correspond more or less to the Cold War symbolic dates with, in 1961, the building of the Berlin Wall and, in 1962, the Cuba crisis. As for Moonraker, the film was shot during Détente. In those days, the USA and the USSR sought to put their relationship on a different footing with economic and scientific collaboration. GoldenEye was shot in the years following the collapse of Soviet power in Eastern Europe.
In our project, we’ll highlight to what extent James Bond movies illustrate the Cold War, by analysing the different characters who symbolize The Cold War, the different places where the action is set and finally the symbolic items.

I. Characters
Let’s analyse first James Bond, then the James Bond girls and eventually the villains.

1. James Bond
Dr No is the first opportunity to meet the famous character of James Bond.
James Bond is a British spy whose job is to protect Her Majesty the Queen against the Eastern world. So, he appears , in this way, as a perfect metaphor of a soldier during the Cold War. James Bond’s goal is neither to please his superiors nor to climb the bureaucratic ladder but to stop what is shown as the horrible Eastern danger and go home quietly to have some rest until the next plot he’ll have to cope with. In order to fulfil his mission, the secret agent travels all over the world as we’ll deal with in the chapter concerning the different places.
Charming, relaxed, self-confident, ingenuous and a little bit lucky…, he symbolizes the Western superiority and confidence. It’s also a way for Ian Fleming to assert Western people are quite open-minded in contrast with the opponents who look very strict as we’ll see later on.
James Bond is keen on gadgetry and drives in the latest luxury cars, which highlights Western wealth. He is currently seen smoking cigars, drinking the famous martini vodka, which needs to be "shaken, not iced !" and playing in casinos, which conjures up trivialities that the Western world can afford.
007’s character looks quite misogynistic. Thus, in Moonraker, he looks quite surprised when he meets a woman who is a Doctor, a scientific member of the NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and a Central Intelligence Agency’s agent. That’s a little too much for a woman according to James Bond ! Feminists criticized James Bond for treating women just as sex objects. To charm a lady, it doesn’t matter whether she comes from China or another exotic country ! In From Russia with love, he seems a little bit incredulous when he witnesses two gipsy women fighting for the conquest of a man !
That James Bond particulars may be a means to convey an impression of power and comfort.
But we can’t speak about James Bond without thinking about the Bond girls, can we ?

2. The James Bond girls
In Dr No, the secret agent introduces himself for the first time to Sylvia Trench who admires his luck. She is the very first James Bond girl, but many others will follow.
The wide sample of James Bond girls is a way for the author to insist on the fact that the West is quite open-minded. 
Indeed, I do not think we could have seen, in Russian movies, an actress such as Ursula Andress emerging from the sea wearing a sexy bikini or couples in a bed.
Sexual release is one of the numerous aspects of liberated customs of the West.
Mrs Moneypenny, the secretary of the head of the secret service, is quite different : She is both serious and strict ; so, Agent 007 is used to playing cat-and-mouse with her. Her name connotes, one more time, Western opulence.
Now, let’s talk about the bad guys who symbolize the values of the Communist block.

3. The villains
In Bond movies, the villains appear as fanatic, narrow-minded, and cruel. In the same way as for James Bond, they are obvious caricatures of course !

Dr No, the first villain we face, behaves as an unfriendly, nasty and unscrupulous man towards human beings. He appears capable of killing in order to master the whole world. It refers to the will of Russia to get rid of whoever would put fetters on its way to supremacy. In Dr No , the international crime syndicate SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-Espionage, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion), whose boss is Blofeld, tries to catch a top-secret decoder, used by the Soviets. SPECTRE is without any political allegiance but exploits the Cold War tension to get what it wants. That movie conjures up the counter-espionage, a phenomenon which was a true issue during the Cold War.
Indeed, during the Cold War, services of espionage and counter-espionage were expanding with CIA for the USA, KGB for the USSR, MI 5 for Great Britain and SDECE for France.
Another aspect of the Russian will to dominate the world in all fields, is dealt with Kronsteen’s character in From Russia with love. This character is used to enhance the fact that the Soviets try to be the best ones, at all costs, in the cultural field as in any other. Thus, Kronsteen is a Soviet chess-player, unpleasant and squalid. The Russians want to prove their cultural supremacy as they used to do by training gymnasts very roughly in East Germany. For Kronsteen, life is not worth living if we can’t reach the best level.
Moreover, Kronsteen is dishonest. We can consider that it’s a means to allude to the East drug use which was denounced during the Cold War.

In From Russia with love, we also meet Rosa Klebb who is as ugly as Bond girls are sexy. She looks cold-hearted, sadistic and, in a word, awful. To achieve her aim, she is able to kill with her own hands. She represents the conversion of feminism and sexism. She is such a caricature that she is depicted as having a fondness for ladies !
She is the enduring stereotype of a Soviet taskmistress. She works for the SMERCH. The SMERCH (composed of two Russian words : Smyert and Spionam which mean "death to the Spies") evokes KGB. In that way, James Bond movie producer managed to denounce its habits.
As for Moonraker, it stages a new character Hugo Drax. He is megalomaniac and paranoiac but he doesn’t belong to the Eastern block : he works for his own interests.
As a matter of fact, during Détente period, it was necessary for the screenwriters to find a new enemy so that the hero’s adventures could go on !
In GoldenEye, we are in the early 1990’s : the Berlin wall is down and the Soviet Communism has collapsed. So we are at the end of the Cold War and a lot of Soviet people have lost their faith in Communist values.

For instance, general Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov has lost the supreme values he used to believe in and seems completely disappointed. He finally betrayed his country in order to preserve his own interests . He wants to become the next Iron Man of Russia. That character really shows the decline of the Eastern block, and testifies that a Russian mafia was born.
Eventually, Allec Trevelyan, who appears in GoldenEye, is a character who relates the whole Cold War. His history is linked to the Yalta agreements. Indeed, because of that agreements, the British handed his Cossack relatives over to the Soviets at the end of World War II. During the Cold War, Allec Trevelyan betrays the West and works for the East. Eventually, when the Eastern block is down, he acts only in his own financial interests.

II. Places
We can study the different locations and countries in order to show how these areas symbolize important locations in the world of the Cold War.

At first sight, all along the James Bond movies, we have seen different locations which epitomize important elements of the Cold War years.
In fact, in GoldenEye - which came out in 1995 - we can see a waste ground with statues and these statues which are growing old, broken and used, represent Lenin and other leaders of the USSR as Stalin. Presently, Stalin was the most important leader of the East during the Cold War. So this waste ground with these statues symbolizes the fall of the Eastern block that is to say decadence since the film Goldeneye was shot six years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and it’s important to speak about Berlin Wall because it represents the end of the Cold War.
Furthermore, in Moonraker, the villain had a house in California which is a replica of a French castle during the Renaissance . So this castle in the middle of the United States represents the rigor and classicism of the East.
Moreover, in James Bond movies, the scenes which take place in planes, cars, trains and boats show us that James Bond travels all over the world and highlight the different places where the Cold War bones of contention are.
We can add that James Bond is fond of going to casinos as we have seen in Dr No at the " Queen club " and in GoldenEye where he goes to Monaco. His leisure show us the opulence and the wealth of the Western block because, of course, James Bond epitomizes the spy of the West.
We have said that James Bond travels a lot owing to numerous scenes which take place in transports. So we can say that James Bond films symbolize tourism. Thus, in From Russia with Love and in Moonraker, a few scenes take place in Venice. Not only does Venice represent the " city of lovers " because James Bond is there with women but it also symbolizes tourism.
Moreover in From Russia with Love, James Bond who is in Istanbul finds himself in a very famous and very emblematic tourism monument : St Sophie’s cathedral.
Consequently we can say that tourism is a part of the economy of the West. So, once again, James Bond, here, symbolizes a form of capitalism.
Eventually, we can speak about the space control centres which appear more and more in James Bond films, particularly in the two last ones we have chosen, that is to say Moonraker and GoldenEye. That corresponds with scientific and technological evolution during the Cold War.

To conclude on this part, we can say all elements of James Bond films can be interpreted like symbols and values of the two blocks during the Cold War.

2. Following the steps of James Bond all over countries and space
After having studied some of the different locations in each film of the four James Bond films, we can analyse the different countries where James Bond travels. Moreover through the films and by chronological order of the releases, we will see the different phases of the Cold War.
Firstly, we can speak about Dr NO which was released in 1962. The film was shot in Jamaica and in the Carribean Islands.
The Cuba crisis took place the same year and at the same place in the world as in the film, that is to say in the Carribean Island in 1962. The Soviets had implanted a lot of missiles in Cuba in order to threaten the United States. Indeed the allusion is quite obvious.
Furthermore, in the second film we have chosen, From Russia with Love, the film was shot partly in Istanbul and was released in 1963.
Istanbul is the border country between the Western and the Eastern blocks.
Moreover we can add that when the Soviets took their missiles off Cuba, the Americans took their missiles off Istanbul. So once again the link between the film and the Cold War is obvious.
Indeed, we can assert these two films epitomize the time of tension during the Cold War and particularly the period of the " Terror ".

The third film we have chosen is Moonraker which was released in 1979 which corresponds to the end of Détente during the Cold War. So if it’s the period of Détente there aren’t any locations in the world where there are troubles. So in this film, the most important topic is space. But space in the Cold War is very emblematic too because it’s the Stars Race between the East and the West. A good few scenes took place in space where men struggled. Indeed we can assert this film epitomizes the war of space performances.

Eventually, in the last film which is GoldenEye, we analysed again a few countries which correspond to hot points of the Cold War. At the beginning of the film, the scene takes place in the USSR during the end of the Cold War where James Bond destroys a centre, which corresponds to the destruction of the USSR and besides, at the end of the film, James Bond is in Cuba which reminds us of the beginning of the Cold War. Moreover, a good few scenes take place in Russia after the fall of the Berlin Wall. We can see a scene in Saint Petersburg where James Bond is in a tank in order to attack the wicked who are Soviets which gives us the impression to see a scene of war.
We can also see some scenes in a space weapons control centre in Siberia which reminds us of deportation camps that is to say the " gulags " because in this centre, the scientists work but, after, they are killed by their boss.
In that way, GoldenEye, which was released in 1995, recalls us the most important countries which were involved at the time of the Cold War.

Once again, in all James Bond movies, the countries where films were shot weren’t chosen at random. Indeed quite a few of them correspond to hot points of the Cold War like Cuba, Istanbul and the USSR.

III. Symbols and technological devices
We can notice that war times are favourable to technological sector, since scientific research is more sought. Indeed governments give billions to research to have the latest technological weapons.
Thus the Cold War is not only a political and ideological war which opposes the Western block- based on capitalism and free market - against the Eastern block based on collectivisation, or an economic war but also a technological war with the stars race and the arms race.
The Cold War is a period characterized by mistrust and suspicion, it is in a way the War of the Spies. Spies and spy agencies are quite developed because as its name indicates there are no direct confrontations between the United States and the USSR. And consequently it leads to the development of technologies that we can observe in James Bond movies.

1. Gadgetry
Gadgets are very important in James Bond movies. They are James Bond’s guardian angels. Thanks to them, he manages to get out of critical and difficult situations and defeats his enemies.
The first real Bond’s gadget is an attaché case which blinds anyone who doesn’t know precisely how to open it. The attaché was featured in the 1964 film : From Russia with Love . Knives could be pulled from its lining and a rifle assembled from hidden parts.
Most of the time, his gadgets help him to kill his enemies, they are either high technological weapons or explosives. One of the most frequently used gadgets is certainly the watch. Thus in Moonraker , Roger Moore (who plays the part of James Bond) wears a watch which can throw poisonous explosive darts, it can be also transformed into a bomb ; as for Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye , he has a laser watch.
James Bond is also famous for his cars. Indeed he always drives beautiful cars of famous brands, fitted out with a lot of gadgets (plenty of missiles). In GoldenEye, there are a printer and a fax machine in his car. In Moonraker there is a boat with torpedoes and a hang-glider incorporated. James Bond always wins thanks to his gadgets. It means that the winner is the one who has the best technological items. Gadgetery represents technology. So it is the symbol of the technological competition between the East and the West.
That’s why there is a profusion of gadgets. This profusion is synonymous with technological power.

Besides there is an evolution in gadgetry linked to the progress of scientific research.
In the first two movies Dr No and From Russia with Love, they are not very present contrary to Moonraker where we can see a mini camera, a cigarette case which can decode and open a safe, plus all the sophisticated weapons. In GoldenEye, gadgets are omnipresent.
The technological war is an aspect of the Cold War. Scientific research is represented in James Bond movies by the Q Branch in charge of creating new gadgets. In GoldenEye and Moonraker, we see Q’s laboratory where there are a lot of experiences on weapons.
Bond gadgets generally fall into three categories : miniature surveillance devices, hidden weapons and " life savers ". The first two categories can exist in the real world and others may have been inspired by the CIA or other spy agencies or have inspired them. The third belongs to fiction.

2. Spy technology
The Cold War has developed a sophisticated espionage. The two blocks scare each other, so they must know all about one another. That’s why it’s a period of espionage.
In James Bond movies, it is characterized by the fact that there are a lot of espionage technologies such as spy planes and satellites as well as the use of micro technology in listening and tracking devices.
Indeed in From Russia with Love, the MI6 (James Bond’s spy agency) fights against the SMERCH to seize Lektor : a decipher age reader of Russian messages. We can also find a microphone hidden in a camera.
The chip and also miniaturization appeared, with microchips and microprocessors. Thus James Bond is fitted out with a mini camera in Moonraker. In GoldenEye, he has a mini but very dangerous bomb , hidden in a pen.
As for spy planes, we see a helicopter called Tiger, it is a stealth helicopter, which can even resist an electro magnetic pulsation. Stealthiness is also evoked with the jamming of Hugo Drax’s spatial complex (Moonraker) : no satellites can notice its existence.

When we speak about spy technology, we think about satellites. But satellites are not only used for espionage or communication, they are also used for the guidance of missiles and other massive destruction weapons.

3. Massive destruction weapons
For nine years, from 1945 to 1953, the United States supremacy as far as nuclear armament is concerned outclassed the world strategy. Their technological control gave them an advance that the USSR wanted to catch up with. Despite the explosion of the first Soviet nuclear bomb in 1949, the USA was still predominant until the middle of the 1950’s.
The problem was that the Big Two were arrived to a critical point because they had invested too much in the nuclear armament and there were so many tensions that everybody feared that a Third World War might break out. But then they could have used nuclear bombs, it would have led to the destruction of the Earth. When Cuba Crisis broke out, everybody thought there would be a war.
But governments know that they must control the production of nuclear weapons. In September 1959, Eisenhower received the visit of Krouchtchev who presented a disarmament plan to the United Nations.

In Dr No, the villain wants to highjack American rockets so as to launch a war between the West and the East. Dr No was released on the screen in 1963, just after the Cuba Crisis. We realize that James Bond’s scenarios are inspired by the struggles of the Cold War.
In Moonraker, the massive destruction weapon which is used is a very toxic and poisonous gas which can kill all the human beings. It is a chemical weapon. Scientists worked on chemical weapons. The USSR kept samples of big diseases such as the cholera or the plague. It is another kind of threat than the nuclear one, but it is as efficient as a nuclear bomb.
In GoldenEye, James Bond has to face up to a laser (called GoldenEye) which can create an EMP (electro magnetic pulsation). This EMP neutralizes all electronical systems, consequently it destroys all armament, information and telecommunication systems. It’s a fearsome weapon because the enemy can’t take reprisals. It’s interesting to notice Americans and Russians worked on this project during the Cold War.

To use these weapons, they need satellites and other spatial technologies. That’s why the space conquest and the Stars Race are an important aspect in the Cold War.
Conversely to nuclear technology, the Soviets were much ahead in space technology. Indeed, when the USSR launched the first artificial satellite of the Earth : Sputnik-I, on October 4th, 1957, the USA noticed they were far behind. The Americans replied with Explorer-I, on January 31st of 1958 (after the failure of the Vanguard space rocket) and in July of the same year, the NASA was created. To the Soviet Yuri Gargarine who was the first man to go in space in 1961, answered the American Neil Armstrong, the first man who walked on the moon in 1969.
The space conquest was a real competition which enabled the USA and the USSR to show who was the most powerful, the most technologically advanced. And it’s not a coïncidence if, in Moonraker, most scenes take place in space where we can see a laser battle, which can make us think of George Lucas film : Star wars (1977). In those days, Hollywood was quite influenced by space technology and the Stars Race.

4. Other emblematic devices
Apart from technological items, we can notice other items which are symbols of the Cold War.
For instance in Moonraker, we see the Red Phone which links the Whitehouse and the Kremlin and which was created after Cuba Crisis to control the nuclear threat.
We also notice a scene where the Concorde is taking off. The Concorde symbolizes the technological success of the West since it is a supersonic plane built by France and Great Britain, two members of the Western block.
In GoldenEye, we see a few shots where we can distinguish the letters CCCP which are the initials of the USSR in Russian. GoldenEye came out in 1995, that is to say after the collapse of the USSR which explains the scene in the film where James Bond is in a cemetery of statues. Indeed, we see Lenin and Stalin’s statues which are ruined. We also distinguish sickles and hammers which are the emblems of the USSR (they are on the flag and represent the union of the agricultural world and the industrial one). We find again the ruined statues in the credit titles : women are destroying the emblems. The fact that there are ruins highlights the fall of the USSR, the end of the Eastern block, and consequently the end of the Cold War.
In this movie, we also notice the gap between James Bond’s cars and his Russian collaborator’s one which is a Trabant. It is a very cheap small car because the population can only afford this kind of car. It shows the wealth of the West contrary to the poverty of the ex-Soviet countries.

Finally, there is more and more advertisements in James Bond movies. In the first two, we don’t see any contrary to Moonraker or GoldenEye where there are special shots to show the brand of the cars (or boat), of the watch he wears… James Bond films are products of the Capitalist world where consumption is the keyword.

All things considered, we can assert that James Bond movies are full of allusions to the Cold War. However, we can’t say James Bond movies are historical movies, since both reality and fiction prevail.
In the ideological war between the two blocks, James Bond movies may have played the part of a propaganda tool of the West against the East as well as the Voice of America (VOA), many comic strips, posters or television.
The fame of the spy hero took roots in many events such as the Rosenberg Spy Case, the story of U2 Spy plane, also known as the "Black Lady", which was shot down over the USSR, or the Cambridge Five spy ring.
Of course, some movies relating to espionage such as The third man were famous. Of course, many directors attempted to create series with other spies called Maxwell Smart, Illya Kuryakin or … Upper7 , A 008, or X13 ! … but no one achieved such success as James Bond !

We can assert that the reasons are the enchanting mixture of the outstanding characters, wonderful landscapes and astonishing gadgets.

_ Books
- James Bond 007 : De Goldfinger à Goldeneye / J. McInerney, N. - Foulkes, N. Norman, N. Sullivan. - Flammarion, 1996.
- Les James Bond girls / Philippe Durant. - Paris : Dreamland éditeur, 1999.
- James Bond 007 : Licence De Tuer / Jean Marc Paland et Jean Marc Pinson –Edilig, 1987
- Goldmaker ou Comment James Bond est devenu le plus gros succès de l’histoire du cinéma / G. Evin - Fayard 2002
- Encarta Encyclopaedia in English
- Upper sixth school history book.

Magazines :
- James bond magazine 1997 / Collectif - James Bond Magazine Editions 1997.
- Télérama n°2758 – 20 novembre 2002 : "Il mourra un autre jour"
- History Today - October 1998 : "The Cold War on TV"

Websites :

- Dr. No (1962)
- From Russia With Love (1963)
- Goldfinger (1964)
- Thunderball (1965)
- You Only Live Twice (1967)
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
- Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
- Live and Let Die (1973)
- The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)
- The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
- Moonraker (1979)
- For Your Eyes Only (1981)
- Octopussy (1983)
- A view to a kill (1985)
- The Living Daylights (1987)
- Licence to kill (1987)
- GoldenEye (1995)
- Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
- The World is Not Enough (1999)
- Die Another Day (2002)

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