Monday, April 28, 2008

[james bond] history in the lens

In London, the Imperial War Museum is mounting: For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond. At the Fleming Collection gallery is Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and the Art of Cover Design, a look at the literary trajectory of James Bond, paperback hero.

An AP article says:

Honor Blackman glam and Bond innuendo - Pussy Galore

The covers are a great survey of taste, and of what was permissible. The US is much happier with guns, while the Europeans are much more relaxed about nudity.

The earliest cover, from the 1955 paperback edition of Bond's debut, Casino Royale, shows a strangely bland Bond, bow-tied and with a carnation in his buttonhole, seated at a poker table.

Later covers are slicker and racier - near-naked women, gleaming guns and glimmering diamonds are popular motifs.

Once you get into the late 60s, the covers get more and more glamorous. Then with the rise of feminism, the glamorous ladies disappear.

But only for a time. The newest covers in the show - Michael Gillette's designs for an upcoming Penguin reissue of the series - feature naked female forms, stylised and given a deliberately retro feel.

One could look at the clothing fashions of the time as well. I could never get over the 1969 George Lazenby, in his tan coloured cardigan and straight cut trousers or the 2007 Daniel Craig slickness.

The change in the women seems even more pronounced. From the the Honor Blackman glam, through the Maryam d'Abo helpless damsel in distress to the kick-butt Eva Green, the Bond franchise is a microcosm of modern western history.

1 comment:

jmb said...

I find it quite interesting that books have different covers in different countries.

That also sounds like an interesting exhibit even though I am not a James Bond fan.