Well, before we being I think you'll like some pretext. I was tasked with analyzing the most recent Bond movie Skyfall for my class on the contemporary approaches to mythology. If you've ever spent any time really looking ath e kind of person Bond is, well he's not great. By all rights he's a misogonyst, using women until he's done and moving on. As the years go on we have moved away from a lot of the ideas that bond stood for. If you're unaware Skyfall unlike Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace , is not based on one of Ian Fleming's books, instead it is an entirely new script for the explicit purpose of recreating Bond. To achieve that end Bond goes through a shamanic rebirth through drowning and I was asked to identify other shamanic themes, like Bonds existence in two worlds, drawing power from the shadows to use in the world of the mundane and his rebirth among other things. I was also directed to identify Bond's shadow or foil in this story, and identify the way he acts, namely by treating Bond the way Bond used to treat women. But with the pretext concluded I hope you enjoy. And if y professor stumbles upon this I hope he'll notice I'm posting this a few days after turning it in haha.
Beginning with the supposed death of James Bond, Skyfall takes the first steps towards bringing Bond into the modern era. An era where women are, in theory, equal to men in all places, and where casual misogyny is not accepted. A world where the enemies of government are not nations, but individuals and groups tied by views and ideology. Groups that use technology to acquire the arms and forces of countries with a few keystrokes. This is the world that Skyfall tries to bring Bond into.
Three characters recur in Bond films, 007 himself, M, and Q. While Q adapts to the times, Bond and M have remained relatively similar. In this film M kills Bond at the very beginning. Although another woman pulls the trigger, M demands the shot be taken. Even the ten minute fight and chase scenes leading to that point serve to demonstrate the old character Bond was. He makes jokes about his female partner driving poorly, he used his classic walther but as soon as he ran out of bullets instead of pocketing it he threw it away, a used up object. Even the mystery man he’s fighting reveals pieces of old Bond: he fights with a machine pistol, with a double drum magazine and in later scenes with more reasonable but still extended clips. The enemies Bond used to face were forces with the backings of entire countries, they could throw endless numbers at him. New Bond is entering a world where quality is prized over quantity. Even when Bond’s final enemy loses his gun he fights with a chain, a symbolic tether holding onto old Bond. After that the two are still held together by the cable for the drive they were fighting over.
Once Bond dies he goes through a spiritual rebirth, connecting with basic human desires. He drinks, but not with class or for the reasons he used to, now it is for the spiritual experience. He chooses rougher, more raw drinks: straight spirits and beer. He does the same with the unnamed woman he stays with and seeks danger with the scorpion drinking. Then, at 23:34 the scene cuts, though instead of implying that Bond is waking up from passing out, his eyes are already open, it’s an awakening from a spiritual experience to see that MI6 has been attacked and he must return. Of course he returns as the new Bond.
He is given his hero’s tests, which he fails, rather obviously in some cases, but is lead to believe he succeeded, barely. As part of his tests he performs a rather ritualized self mutilation, removing shards of his unknown assailant’s bullet, using his death to help find who took the list. Here the woman who acted as the weapon used to kill him reappears and instead of playing the roles of a woman to be seduced or confronted she becomes a rival, an equal to Bond, pushing them both to be better. Here Bond also meets the modern interpretation of Q, who gives him a gun and a radio, instead of the crazy gadgets we’ve come to expect. Though the alteration on the gun puts it more in line with Eastern ideas about weapons; the palm scanner means that he must personally take responsibility for every bullet to leave the gun, and instead of being able to just throw it away, it is a part of him at all times.
After his brief stay in China, Bond ends up on a boat heading for the maestro of the whole ordeal, his shadow, Silva. Silva, as a character, is a warped version of Old Bond, literally and metaphorically. He essentially treats Bond the way that Bond used to treat women. He takes on the role of an abusive boyfriend. We later see that he has been physically warped by his dedication to his idea of M. He took his cyanide capsule, but instead of killing him it ate at his flesh and muscle, destroying the internals of half of his face. On Silva’s island we also see the change in Bonds view, he has already had sex with the woman who got him to the island, but he still tried to save her. While Silva simply shot her in the gut to win a bet.
It also bears notice that Silva only refers to 007 as Bond when he is commanding people, when he is simply speaking to Bond, Silva always refers to him as James, which is much more personal. He pairs this with knowledge about James that Bond doesn’t even know himself, like the scores on the tests he felt he had passed. As they battle, Bond begins to realize that Silva is his foil and that he needs to act in ways that Silva can’t predict. At this point Bond combines aspects of his past incarnations. Silva’s knowledge and skills are based in the world that Daniel Craig's Bond has existed in for Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, so Bond counters by using his past lives and his childhood, of which Silva has no knowledge. He uses an older Aston Martin, modified by Q division, specifically from Sean Connery's incarnation of Bond in Goldeneye, equipped with machine guns in the headlights, ejector seats, the whole kit and caboodle, however it does not have a tracking device, putting them ahead of Silva. They race to the setting of their final confrontation, the Bond Family home, Skyfall, on the Scottish coast.
Here they return to the most basic survival ideas. Bond, M, and Kincade, the grounds keeper of Skyfall, begin setting up defenses around the house, largely to the point of risking the destruction of the last tie Bond has to his childhood and life before he was an orphan. This is also the first point where Bond is once again able to make a clean shot, with his father’s old hunting rifle. This becomes a running theme, for the rest of the movie he does not use a pistol or any other gun that can be used with one hand. He uses only rifles, guns requiring him to use his entire body, putting his entire being into the activity, making the killing something he cannot do casually, which Silva continues to do. Until the very end of the film the only weapon Bond uses besides a rifle is the knife he throws into Silva’s back. Again a symbolic gesture, Bond does what Silva feels M did to him, returning to the start of the whole ordeal.
With Silva’s death the world largely returns to normal, M passes away and Mallory takes her job. Eve is introduced for the first time and revealed to be Eve MoneyPenny. And Bond returns to the shadows a better man with a clearer outlook on what the world really needs now and how he can function within it.
So, with that the actual essay finishes and I encourage you all to go watch the film. There are plenty of things I left out, mostly due to a 1,000 word limit I went 158 over. See if you can tell what I missed. I'll say this, I don't even mention the multi tiered spirit animal they gave Bond. Well have fun, the movie is still on Netflix, probably still on Amazon streaming, and maybe even a local redbox if they haven't been updated too recently.