Whenever there is a Bond film, there is always a Bond girl. She is as indispensable as the gadgets, the car, the chase and the villain set on overtaking the earth. They have always been in the centre of controversy; they have always been branded as beautiful women (often with sexually overt names) who need Bond and ironically, Bond cannot complete his mission without them. They always seem to have perfection in everything they do. However, this portrayal of women can be somewhat unrealistic.
Some may want the representation of the Bond Girl to stay as it is but others may want the portrayal of the Bond Girl to depict the modern idea of girl power. I for one think that this representation of women is harmless, partly because it is only a fictional character. It is a representation to be regarded only in entertainment. In this essay, I am going to look at and analyse the Bond saga looking especially at how the Bond Girls in particular are shown and how their characteristics and qualities have changed over the decades.
The James Bond series was created to boost up Britains prospects of being noticed as a powerful country with their own hero armed with fast cars, girls, gadgets and gimmicks. Over the years the audience grew to love this hero who they called Bond, James Bond with his callous persona, dead-pan humour armed with good looks and a sexy voice to go with his trademark saying. In reality, Britain was falling rapidly from the world stage.
The first Bond film, released in 1962 was Dr. No. It was created with a meagre 90. 0 budget and featured Sean Connery (then a virtually unknown actor) who was to play Bonds character for the remainder of the decade with the exception of 1969s release of In His Majestys Secret Service featuring George Lazenby. Throughout the years of Bond, every film has been popular despite the changes in actors, directors and producers. The films gave the audience a visit back to the propaganda-filled forties. It also gave the audience a sense of diversion through all the action and the sense of satisfaction at being able to predict the finish.
Every Bond film has followed the Bond formula, which helps the audience become aware of the chain of events that occurs in the Bond movies. His character, although quite old, is still popular with younger generation. I think this is because Bond appeals to all age groups, as he is an archetype of perfection. He is omniscient. There is no gem he cant name, no language he cant speak, no wine he cant identify, hes also an expert at all sports (skiing, diving, shooting, equestrian etc. ) and to add to his list of capabilities, women find him irresistible.
Audiences can also identify with the other characters through their field of occupation. Their permanence from film to film gives the series immediate recollection as well as a feeling of participation (e. g. Bonds boss M, Ms secretary, Ms. Money-penny, Q, the contraption genius and a multitude of others as well as the Bond villains). There is also a situational continuity. Bonds favourite of Vodka Martini shaken not stirred and the contraptions devised by Q are awaited and anticipated eagerly by the audience. The Bond Girls main purpose is to provide the film with an element of romance, beauty, and glamour.
She also provides an opportunity for Bond to save her, thus proving her vulnerability, helplessness and weakness while also proving Bonds masculinity, as to be able to save her, as well as his bravery and strength. They are known as Bond Girls instead of women because of their childlike qualities. It tells us that they are vulnerable, needy, innocent, youthful and expectant. Therefore, the audiences expectation is not much from her except they always expect there to be a Bond Girl who is beautiful, glamorous and has a high-ranking position in her field of work
The Bond Girls also provide the audience with something to beautiful look at, look up to and mostly, something to criticize simply because they are there and to an extent, envy. She is an integral part of the Bond Formula because without her, there would be a substantial gap in the plot and expectation. Another purpose of the Bond Girl is simply to provide the audience with the right mixture of glamour, glitz and showbiz. Their image also helps reinforce Bonds reputation of being irresistible and in command.
Nevertheless, all that glamour usually comes with a price. Being a Bond Girl has frequently been at once the pinnacle of an aspiring actress career and the end of it. For example, Shirley Eaton, best remembered for being painted gold in Goldfinger back in 1964. Nobody remembers her at all. Nobody remembers how her husband died young and how she struggled to find other major roles after being all gold for Sean Connery. It was the beginning and the end for her in one shimmering moment. The Bond girl seemed a celebration of newly liberated female sexuality.
However, that is the illusion of the Bond philosophy, because when it comes to making it as an actress, all that glitters in a Bond movie is definitely not gold. Once the public has seen you in a Bond Movie as a Bond Girl, they automatically conclude that you are dumb because, portraying a Bond girl isnt exactly a stretch for a young aspiring actress.
All Bond Girls come with the regular accessories, a body to die for and one that looks best in bikinis, permanent good hair days, a weird name (e. g. Kissy Suzuki) and plus the ability to coo oh James! she slides between the satin sheets with Mr Bond. She also has special talents (e. g. collecting shells). Their names must be one of the most memorable moments in all the films, with names like Pussy Galore, Plenty Otoole, Holly Goodhead and Octopussy. These names suggest to us, that these girls were cheap and the public saw that too. They stereotyped all the actresses who played a Bond Girl to be as dumb as their character. They do not realise that it is only a character. There are four types of Bond Girl.
The Angel with a Wing Down: an innocent woman connected to the villains whom Bond usually saves. The Nave Beauty, an innocent woman caught up in the plot by accident, which Bond always saves. The Comrade in Arms, a skilled woman with whom Bond is forced to join forces then to save, and the villainous Vixen, an insane woman whom Bond Sleeps with but never saves. Over the years, however, the Bond Girls skills and names have changed gradually. From being dumb blonde girls (e. g. Honey Ryder in Dr. No) to being intelligent able women (Like Wei Lyn in Tomorrow Never Dies).
Before all the Bond girls provided was the glamour and sex appeal but now they contribute to the action as well. However, Bonds attitude towards the Bond Girls has not changed. He never keeps the same girl. After he uses her and completes his mission, he gets rid of her and gets himself a new girl. This makes us think of the Bond Girl as one of Bonds possessions, who he can rid himself of, for every new mission. I analysed two scenes from two Bond Films. Dr No (1969) and Tomorrow never Dies (1997) featuring two Bond girls, Honey Ryder and Wei-Lyn.
Honey Ryder played by Ursula Andress, the big-boned blonde in a white bikini, who strode out of the sea, dripping sex appeal in a Long shot. It was in a sunny tropical beach in Crab Quay (Jamaica), the perfect setting for romance as it is secluded, romantic and exotic. She wore a white bikini, which emphasized her purity and innocence while at the same time emphasizing her curvaceous body. She was singing Underneath the mango tree which highlighted her childlike qualities. The appearance of Bond in the scene introduces an element of romance although she was shocked at the sight of him.
She was scared but curious as to why he was there. She grabs for her knife and waves it about which stresses the fact that she is very instinctual and if she has to, she will defend herself but she is unsure of Bonds and her own strength. Once she was sure Bond meant no harm, she becomes friendly with him which tells us that she is (like a child) easily led and very trusting. When Bond asks her name, she replies by saying Honey Ryder. He tells her that it is a very pretty name in a patronising tone and in the same manner, as you would talk to a child.
The director used a medium shot when they were walking through the beach. The shot of them together shows that he is both stronger and bigger. She tells him that the reason for her being in Crab Quay is that shes collecting shells to sell them, which tells us that she finds very simple and childlike ways of supporting herself. They then get into trouble and we see that his arm is around her waist as they are hiding behind the sand. This gesture is very intimate but could be misinterpreted as just an excuse for him to touch her.
Bond recognises Honeys childlike quality and realises the need to protect her. The position of their heads also tells us that Bond is large and in charge as Bonds head, although next to Honeys is slightly above hers, which indicates a higher rank. Honey has a childhood belief about monsters. We see this in a close up of her face as she describes the appearance of the dragon from this we see her fear, another indication of her naivety. She describes the dragon as big in the same way as a child would. After the boat has been damaged, Bond says what are we going to do with her?
Bond does not consider Honey Ryder to be important, he does not value her opinions and treats her as if she is invisible and a disturbance to his plans. The setting quickly changes from a sunny tropical beach to being a rainforest, which tells us that the situations getting dangerous. Honeys appearance also changes. She puts on a white shirt, which seems to have come out of nowhere. The shirt is white, which once again symbolises purity and innocence, although she covers herself up, the fabric clings to her skin and is very revealing when its wet and white is very see through.
While hiding in the reeds, she suddenly exclaims that something is biting her foot which accentuates her childlikeness, as it is only something a child would say amidst all the danger surrounding them. When Bond resorts to killing a soldier, a close up of Honey shows her putting her hands to her face and asking Bond Why? this tells us that she is not used to violence. However, this could be argued because she later on explains about the man in Kingston who raped her and whom she killed setting a black spider upon him. She will defend herself.
It was an Eye for an eye response, and instinctual. She asks Bond if she did wrong? asking reassurance from Bond, a man. This action proves that she is capable of violence when needed. Honey explains her background by saying she is well travelled. She travelled with her dad, but since her dad died, she has been by herself. She did not go to school and taught herself using an encyclopaedia. Honey is very vulnerable and needs protection. Namely from Bond. She then goes on to ask Bond do you have a woman of your own? Bond cleverly avoids the question through a distraction.
If Bond had answered yes, then Honey could not have had him and if he had said no, then Bond could not be irresistible enough to women for him to be single. The setting changes to being dark and swampy dangerous Bond tells her to stay put but she disobeys and joins Bond behind the tree, claiming that she was scared this highlights again her naivety and childlikeness and her need for Bonds protection. In the end she was captured but she didnt give up easily, she fights back but her captor easily defeats her and knocks her down.
This accentuates the fact shell try to defend herself, like an angry child, shes very instinctual but very easily overpowered. Bond himself is captured, she shouts leave him alone like an angry child, wanting to defend a guardian. Honey Ryder is depicted as a sex kitten with very little brainpower. She shows vulnerability. Innocence, naivety and is only in the film as a sex object for Bond to play around with. She shows childlike qualities in mostly everything she does which totally contrasts with the second Bond girl I analysed, Wei-Lyn, played by Michelle Yeoh who shows maturity, spirit and independence in all her actions.
The scene we analysed started with a medium shot of Bond and Wei-Lyns head in the sea. They look like a team but vulnerable because they cant go anywhere apart from the boat, which has been taken over by Carvers men. When they get taken onto the helicopter, she says to Bond, if I didnt know any better, Id say you were following me around Mr. Bond, This statement tells us that amidst all the danger they are in, she still has a sense of humour. It also suggests that he IS following her around when in fact it is by pure coincidence they have ended up in the same place looking for the same thing.
When she is in Carvers building her appearance changes from wearing a tight wetsuit to casual clothes consisting of a pair of black trousers, white cropped top and a red shirt worn as a jacket which made her look almost masculine. These clothes seemed to have appeared out of nowhere as she certainly was not carrying any bags! In her obituary, Carver describes Wei Lyn as a collaborator of the Chinese Peoples External Security force. This sounds like an important and a very high-risk occupation that is stereotypically a male role in other spy films.
This re-emphasizes her masculinity, shown in her clothes, manner and choice of occupation. She wants to succeed as a woman in a predominantly male role without having to use any female traits. She is willing to compete in an equal level and shows competence in doing the job using brainpower alone. As Carver mentioned her profession, we see a close up of Wei Lyns face as she looks at Bond. We see her expression and Bonds reaction clearly as her true identity is revealed to Bond. Just before they escape, Wei Lyns calm and assertive manner shows that she is confident and familiar with the situation.
The type of shot used to capture Bond and Wei Lyns escape was a medium shot. This type of shot showed both Bond and Wei Lyn in its frame, giving the impression that they are working together as equals. Despite being handcuffed together, each uses their own knowledge to adapt their skills and become an impressive fighting team. Wei Lyn looks as if she is obviously used to this type of situations as when she saw the banner, she automatically recognises it as their means of escape.
Subsequent to their escape, they see a motorbike and both assume the role of driver which implies that both are used to being in control. Due to the fact that they are handcuffed to each other, she has to put her arm around him while they are on the motorbike. This insinuates intimacy. However, she has a reason and an excuse to do it due to the handcuffs. As the helicopter chases them, Wei Lyn manoeuvres herself so that she sits astride Bond, facing him and on his lap, into a more intimate position, using the excuse that shes observing their pursuers to do so.
As she does so, she says, Dont get any ideas Mr. Bond which shows she is aware of her femininity and sexuality. Bond tells her to return to the way she was before to enable him to accomplish the next part of their escape easily. She mistakes this as an attempt of Bond to protect her. She nevertheless, follows orders. By the time they reach a dead end, Wei-Lyn is back straddling Bond and states that they are trapped. Bond disagrees and we see a close up of Bond and Wei-Lyn looking at each other in an intimate and caring manner.
This makes us think back of Bond as the protector and seducer. As always, Bond is right and manages to get away from the situation. The scene then follows Bond and Wei-Lyn into a shower, the water makes Wei-Lyns white t-shirt see-through, thus emphasizing her femininity and sexuality under her almost masculine appearance. Bond being the man that he is automatically assumed that Wei-lyn was making a pass at him when in fact she is using her sexuality to sidetrack Bond while she frees herself from the handcuffs and handcuffs Bond to the shower pole.
She is clearly using the fact that she is a woman to her advantage against Bond. As she runs away from Bond to go to her secret hideaway, she grabs a Vietnamese shirt from a nearby stall. This enables her to blend in with her surroundings. Wei-Lyn shows us she can look after herself when she gets involved in a fight with the bad guys using martial arts as her defence. The scene shows her, a woman, in a masculine role where she is undoubtedly able to compete competently with her male counterparts.
The entrance of Bond in the scene enables us to carry on with the thought of Bond saving the day so to speak as he kicks the gun that was pointing to her from the enemys hand. She instinctively resents his interference and argues that she could have dealt with it herself. The shot used to portray Wei-Lyn as she said this was a low angle shot that suggests that she is as powerful and self sufficient as any man can be. Wei-Lyns role as Bonds equal is almost masculine and a familiar characteristic with masculinity is domination.
Both Bond and Wei-Lyn show these traits as both want to dominate each other even while they work as a team. Both Honey Ryder and Wei-Lyn have countless sex appeal and both are able to seduce Bond. Both are young, attractive and sexy. However, they have very differing personalities. Honey Ryder is a weak character who makes it possible and is willing for Bond to dominate her while Wei-lyn, although sexy in her own way, feels she is, at least, Bonds equal, if not better. She is strong, smart and sexy but not running around in bikinis like Honey Ryder.
She is modern and has something to do in the film rather than just be a babe on Bond arm like Honey was. As well as analysing two excerpts from two Bond movies, I also analysed a piece of promotional material for The World is not enough The postcard features Christmas Jones aka Denise Richards. She wears a purple vest top and is in a medium shot. The top and type of shot both emphasize her femininity and sexuality. We can only see the top half of her but we can see that she has a good figure. Her facial expression is quite serious but her lips are pursed together, which suggests sultriness.
She looks straight at the camera, which gives the impression that she is looking directly at you. She also has a come get me look about her. The background, which she is standing against, features which looks like a digitised map of the world, which I guess, could be found in government offices such NASA. The map is purple in colour, which suggests feminism. Her posture, leaning slightly to one side while standing with both hands by her side insinuates sassiness and sultriness. Both her hands are by her side and she isnt covering herself which implies that shes very confident in her self-image.
Her hair is tied up but some tendrils of hair have fallen down. She has an almost messy and wild look about her that suggests that she has been through some sort of rough activity. The font used in the postcard is big, gold, in use of capitals, which alludes to luxury and wealth, and the symbol of the gold gun suggests wealth and action. The gold colour connotes glamour and sexiness. The writing and name of the title; the world is not enough suggests that the characters are not happy with what they have and therefore they want more. The world cannot give them what they yearn for.
Whatevers changed about the Bond Girls, they still have to be racy, active, sexy and uncomplicated. I think perhaps that this is what has made them more accessible and acceptable to women. I think these changes have occurred because womens role in the society have changed over the years. Until recently, women were the weaker sexes compared to the dominating males. Women were passive and were just happy being portrayed as such. However, over the years, more and more women fought for their rights and nowadays want equality with men. More women have taken up occupations, which before were considered to be mens jobs.