2016 is the ultimate year of Bond. Armed only with a 63 column spreadsheet and industrial quantities of wine, my sisters and I will decide once and for all which film is the best.
You could say that James Bond brought us up, at least partially. Our parents both worked full time, and their Sundays were spent doing household admin and lesson planning. So my sisters and I were left to our own devices for most of the day, most weeks, ‘being quiet’ in the lounge with our VHS video player (and yes, we did have a Betamax for a while too) and an endless stock of films taped off the TV.
We loved Star Wars; we loved Swallows and Amazons; we loved anything with Goldie Hawn in it; but most of all we loved James. We ate, slept and breathed that man. Especially The Spy Who Loved Me and Never Say Never Again (yes, I know, but you can shove your ‘not part of the canon’. Fatima Blush is quite a role model for a growing girl).
The plays we made up and forced our parents to endure were James Bond plays. I was James; Katie was a cool baddie or Bond girl; Sally is the youngest and took memorable roles like the dog we did experiments on in Q’s laboratory who died (sorry Sal).
He has been a big part of our lives ever since. We had James Bond birthday parties. I decided I would marry my now husband when I saw his beautifully numbered VHS recorded Bond film collection the first time he took me back to visit his parents’ house (and then nearly left him when I noticed that they were numbered incorrectly). Sally married a man based on their mutual love of Dalton’s Bond (no, nothing else involved in that decision) and they have called their son Timothy.
We have continued to watch every new film with excitement. There have been incredible highs (the slick, sophisticated and oh so sexy Casino Royale) and depressing lows (Die Another kite surfing Day anyone?) but our love has stayed true. When the world and their wife decided they loved Bond after watching Skyfall, we knew this wasn’t a real Bond film. Because he fails. An entertaining mash up of Home Alone and Crocodile Dundee 2 it may be, a great Bond it is not.
But life is busy. Family, children and work take over. All those things that stand between you and whole days spent doing nothing but watching films. Then last Christmas, over two months after its release, we realised that none of us had seen SPECTRE. We ditched those inconvenient families and found one remaining showing in the county (with subtitles for the hard of hearing which were often hilarious, and I can highly recommend) and off we went.
It reignited something wonderful in us. Yes, it is Bond by numbers. Yes, the relationship is so dodgy it’s like Moore said yes to that young girl in For Your Eyes Only. Yes, the cuckoo and family stuff is all a bit weird and surplus to requirements. But it is so beautiful. And cool. And exciting. And Craig finally cheers up (a bit).
We vowed there and then that 2016 would be the year of Bond. We have booked in a day a month over the course of the year to watch two films a sitting.
We know what makes a good Bond film. And have developed the ultimate scientific formula to determine the quality of each. Bond must be ruthless and infallible, but charming and very sexy. The baddie must be charismatic and have a fantastic lair. The music must be dramatic, but also moving, as well as reflecting the story of the film. The pre-title sequence must stand alone as outstanding in its own right, but also relate to the main film meaningfully. The Bond girls, both primary and subsidiary, must be multi-faceted characters with a believable relationship to our hero.
We will Bond-a-thon our way through the year, marking each film out of ten in categories from ‘quality of quips’ to ‘modes of transport’ to ‘scale of threat’ to ‘tux wearing’ to ‘racial equality’ and ‘gender equality’. And at the end of the the year we will know, once and for all, which is the best Bond film.
We invite you to join us on this journey. It will be quite something…