Sigmund Freud on Bond
There's an old Jesuit proverb that runs 'give
me the child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.'
Sadly we can't ask Ian Fleming about his
thoughts on this. But we can be sure it weighed heavy on the author's mind as
he first sat down at that famed golden typewriter to give the world James Bond.
For Fleming developed something deeper than
some like to think, he moulded a character that perhaps surprisingly became a
more enduring cinema hero than any other. He did this because in his own head,
he gave life to a child who became an adolescent and then a man. He created a
full human with all the weaknesses, self-doubt and occasional moments of
brilliance that we all experience as people. He knew how Bond felt, how he
would react in any given situation and he knew what went through his mind as
007 sipped on a vodka before laying down to sleep each night.
If James Bond was a real man and you sat down
with him to hear his life story, it wouldn't start with adventure. As the
fictional biography of his life by John Pearson (see end) points out, it would
not begin with the acquisition of a Licence to Kill. It would start with what
made him. It would start with the most meaningful and powerful influences on
his life - up to the age of around seven. And it is not a pretty story. This
one does not have a happy ending.
The cinema has been good to Bond. It has
defined what he is able to achieve through the strengths of his unique persona.
This is what we see: He is more foolhardy
than brave. He has the steel inside that allows him to barge into the middle of
danger and work his way out.
He is conscious of his appearance, forever
creating the outward look of a satisfied and successful man while revealing
nothing of the inner workings of his mind.
And he is a lover, driven like an addict into
the arms and beds of beautiful women wherever and whenever he finds them. He
takes his love with style and passion, and then he always leaves.
'Was it something I said,' he asks Paris
Carver when they meet after many years in Tomorrow Never Dies.
'How about 'I'll be right back,'' she
replies. And slaps him.
Later on it becomes clear that he had fallen
for her, had become more attached than he had ever wanted to be. And that's why
'Did I get to close?' she says. 'Did I?'
Bond, reluctantly, says 'Yes.'
It was a powerful moment for Bond fans,
because it was the third dimension. It was the man behind the male that, just
for a second, was left open, weak and unguarded. It was kind of sad.
And it all makes sense. Fleming would
doubtlessly have approved of the scene.
James Bond is a victim of his early youth.
The time bomb that was to make him was set when his father Andrew eloped with
the teenage mother-to-be Monique. They had met while climbing in the Swiss
Monique Delacroix was a beautiful Swiss
19-year-old when she first fell for the dashing 30-something Highland Scotsman
Andrew. Her upper class family was outraged at the romance and warned that they
would not stand for it. Andrew, who was in Switzerland on business with the
military hardware firm Metro-Vickers, let little stand in his way. He was of
tough Calvinistic stock, single-minded and unruly. He loved Monique and told
her that regardless of the consequences, they must be together. The young woman
agreed and they fled and married in a blaze of adventure and romance.
When her family learned, their first action
was to cut her from the lucrative will. And after that, Andrew ordered that the
name Delacroix never be mentioned in his presence again.
It set the scene for stormy waters ahead.
The Bonds moved to Germany on business and as
Andrew's workload increased, Monique was soon left at home looking after two
young sons, Henry, the elder, and James (born November 11). Days would pass and
the confused and lonely woman would wonder where her domineering husband had gone.
She would ponder the family she had left behind and the promising youth that
she had thrown away as the two energetic brats ran around her feet.
Another move came and the Bonds relocated to
Egypt. The youngsters took to hanging around on the streets, avoiding the
mother who they both loved very much, and she seemed to care very little. It
was here when James first saw her stepping out with other gentlemen, first
watched her ignore him as rich bachelors wined and dined her in the best places
He called to her once as he stood with his
street-urchin friends, but she blanked him and told her suitor to look away
The rejection was two-fold. His father was
constantly absent and therefore played little part in his life. And his mother
was present, but chose to avoid her sensitive and impressionable youngest son
as if he wasn't there.
One day, in a blazing mood, she even told him
that she did not love him. He was only six-years-old.
As if that was not enough, tragedy was to
strike in the unkindest of circumstances. Andrew, who always truly did love
Monique, was not getting any younger and suggested that he and his wife take
time out for their favorite hobby. They left the boys with an aunt near
Canterbury in England and set out for the Alps. The Scot desperately wanted to
patch up the weary marriage and felt that if they returned to where they first
met, they might begin to really talk things through.
But, as was symbolic of their entire
relationship, they fought the night before they were due to climb and both set
off the following day independently. As their anger later blew up on the
mountains, they somehow met with an accident. They were both killed and later
they were committed to the Earth at the base of the mountain.
Sigmund Freud, that old master of the effects
of early family relationships, would have a field day with this. He would tell
how a boy's early years with his mother are vital in the development of how the
man will generally get along with the opposite sex. And how the value of life
itself can be raised or lowered by the feedback a lad gets from his mum as he
makes his way in the world. And he would say how the young lad would have given
his heart and soul to see a successful outcome to a holiday that could see his
parents get it together once again.
Cut to Bond, James Bond. Cut to the grown-up,
dashing hero who is regarded by many as a loner who, out of working hours,
keeps himself entertained with a drink and a gamble. Cut to the outwardly
polite, slightly cold but charismatic charmer who thrills at the very smell of
a sexy lady no matter if she's married, single, easy or hard to get.
Here the child has become the man he was
destined to be from his earliest years. He does not trust women. He wants to
always win them over and impress them, but after that he has an inbuilt desire
to rid himself of them.
He craves affection and admiration, but he
needs to always have the upper hand. He wants the company and the ecstasy, but
he does not want the emotional baggage. He moves on after he has taken what he
needs and often leaves women searching for a reason as to why they wake up
It is because James Bond will invest nothing
of himself in women, because he was so badly burned when he attempted to form a
loving attachment in his earliest years.
And then there was Tracy Ferzetti. A rich
European socialite, strong and genuine, but disillusioned with her strict
family and indeed her whole life. She was the very model of his own unhappy
mother. She had little interest in men, but developed a mutual attraction with
Bond that neither of them were in full control of.
There was a tiny instinct in 007 that drew
him to her. Imagine if these two could face life together in their own
determined but damaged way, and form a companionship that redressed the awful
imbalances of the past.
Their affair was deep, powerful and carried with
it the answers that each of them needed. They were two lonely souls who had
found a soul mate, and there was nothing for it but to wed and make things
better. To do this, Bond had to open the gates around his heart and welcome her
inside. And that is what he did.
It is an immeasurable tragedy that she was
murdered. Her life was taken on their wedding day due to very nature of what
Bond did for a living. He gripped her dead body and wept as her life slipped
from her. It was the most moving scene in any Bond movie down the years. And
her death is something he was never able to forgive himself for. He has never
discussed it with another living soul.
What is left is a man who will never, ever
give his heart. He is beyond even considering the possibility as women like
Paris Carver found out to their cost.
Perhaps it is now that he has little in his
heart. He is a survivor, but only because he focuses so hard on his work. Deep
inside, he cares little for his own fate. Somewhere along the line he lost his
brother and has no living relative. He has no plans for children and his place
in the world is isolated and cruel.
He is clever, quick and cool. He is the ideal
man to send to his certain death for a greater good, and he has no qualms about
this role. It is one way for him to have what we might call a meaningful life.
But inside James Bond 007 there is something
that is very much dead.
It is fitting indeed that the family crest,
first revealed on film as he was falling for Tracy, is simply: 'The World is
Life has not been enough. He is left living
for the adrenaline, the rush and the lust, but he has found no true meaning. He
is a disturbed soul whose loss would be national and global, but will leave no
one devastated beyond words.
Except perhaps Moneypenny, who he always
remained distant from anyway. He knew he would see her frequently and was wise
to the dangers down the line of bringing her home for a night.
And of course there would be the others who
would be upset. The tailors, the restauranteurs and the croupiers. The people
who Bond finally decided to share most of his life with.
Throughout the series, the audience has been
thrown little tidbits of the man behind the tuxedo. We have seen Roger Moore
sore and sad at his wife's grave, Timothy Dalton grow cold and quiet when asked
why he has no plans for marriage and Pierce Brosnan explain how his work keeps
him alive. Izabella Scorupco, who plays the beautiful Natalya Simonova, tells
him that it's what keeps him alone. Bond knows she is right. But he does not
James Bond is a fully formed man; a cinematic
hero that is a healthy cut above all the others. And he will continue to be.
The reason that the man Ian Fleming gave to us is so compelling is because amid
the fire, the fantasy and adventure, there is something very real and simple
That is why when he takes us where he goes,
when the world explodes around him and when times are at their worst, we trust
that he will break through and soldier on. After all, he is only a human.
* Much of what has been written here was
inspired by a fascinating book by John Pearson, the man who wrote the
best-selling biography of Ian Fleming.
Pearson wrote what he called 'The Authorized
Biography of James Bond,' imagining the interview that would take place if 007
opened up in his later years. He studied Fleming's Bond and filled in the gaps.
It is a highly recommended read.
James Bond: The Authorized Biography by John
It was first published in 1973 by Gildrose
Publications Ltd and John Pearson.
Written by Jake Johnson