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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.'

Sigmund Freud On BondSadly 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 he left.

'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 Alps.

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 in town.

He called to her once as he stood with his street-urchin friends, but she blanked him and told her suitor to look away too.

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 alone.

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 Not Enough.'

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 explain.

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 about Bond.

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 Pearson.

It was first published in 1973 by Gildrose Publications Ltd and John Pearson.

Written by Jake Johnson

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