No time to die

Updated: 08 November, 2020 07:03 IST | Rahul da Cunha | Mumbai

I always wondered, if in a magical Avengers-Indiana Jones scenario, why Connery didn't return to help Craig destroy the "villain" - but then Bond films aren't remakes. They're reimagined classics.

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul da CunhaAnd so, Sean Connery has left us. The talk's all been about him being the best Bond, the original bond, machismo personified.

That he was the best 007 is debatable, but the original, he most certainly was.

Early Bond was unmatched–for sheer timing, 007 appeared at that point in our teen years of bunking lectures to watch a matinee of Diamonds Are Forever; eating oily chicken rolls and stale popcorn at New Empire during Goldfinger.

There was Q and the quips, and the Walther PPK and M16, a dithering M and Miss Moneypenny and the Aston Martin and the Martinis and villains whose hands you saw stroking white cats. It was the gadgets, the girls, the sheer glamour of Ian Feming's fantasy world, in cinemascope. And, leading it all was this 6 foot 2 inch Scotsman, who shook us and stirred us.

My lady friends ask me, "Dude, which Bond do you think was the best looking?" I'm clear. Combine Connery's height, and screen presence, and Craig's swagger. Add on Connery's wit and charm, and you have the perfect fictional superspy.

The middle bunch of Bonds just never quite cut it. Take Pierce Brosnan's Bond for example.

He fell between two stools—the end of the Cold War and early days of CGI (computer generated imagery).

The world of Bond got darker when Daniel Craig muscled in. Connery was Bond in a canvas, where everyone else were caricatures or cardboard cut outs; in Craig's 007 universe, he was mortal and everything was real.

With Skyfall, and Sam Mendes in the director's seat, he explored Bond's backstory.

Craig gave him a fragility, and a sadness—the scene where M (Judi Dench) and he look out at a gorgeous landscape—and she says to him, "orphans always make the best recruits", you get his entire childhood in one sentence.

M may stand for Missions, but in Craig's era, M was 'Mother figure' for sure.

In Connery's time, antagonists weren't a real threat. Now, we have real supervillains, with their pasts spelt out as well. Javier Bardem didn't just want to "ruin" the world, he wanted revenge against M for betraying him.

Perhaps, the playfulness has gone out of the franchise, replaced with a pondering fury. Connery was light, Craig is dense, Connery was spoof, Craig is Shakespearean, Connery was spy, Craig is six-pack superhero.

Connery's Bond was fun and adventure, Craig's Bond is action packed noir thriller.

There have really been two Bonds, two eras.

You could argue that as tech gets more refined, and as the unique stories run out, Bond will perhaps lose relevance, he may end up being any protagonist saving the world from a "let-me-destroy" it antagonist.

Incredible that Connery still occupies the first slot in our collective psyche, he was the coolest, he was indeed the original.

I always wondered, if in a magical Avengers-Indiana Jones scenario, why Connery didn't return to help Craig destroy the "villain"—but then Bond films aren't remakes. They're reimagined classics.

And Sean Connery was a classic. He was Untouchable.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahul.dacunha@mid-day.com

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First Published: 08 November, 2020 04:23 IST

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