Bond. James Bond.
There has arguably been no more successful or important British ‘brand’ in pop culture history than James Bond. 50 Years ago the journey from pulp fiction into national icon began with Dr. No exploding onto the screen in 1962, leading us all the way (and five James Bonds later) to the year of Skyfall, perhaps the most eagerly anticipated Bond film of all time. Therefore the release of Everything or Nothing comes at a perfect time for Bond fans as both a retrospective upon the history of the franchise, and whet the appetite for the next chapter in the adventures of agent 007.
Everything or Nothing tracks the history of James Bond, from his creation by Ian Fleming as a literary fantasy alter ego, through the crucial involvement of two driven, forward thinking producers, Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who would combine to bring James Bond to life on the silver screen and become a cinematic sensation. The film explores the dramas, fall-outs, court cases, success, hedonistic lifestyles and of course the many faces of Bond over the years, revealing the power and endurance of the series.
The film’s director, Stevan Riley, gives what could have been purely a talking heads affair life, vibrancy and sly humour by utilising the James Bond films themselves to tell the story of series through editing together moments from the films that reflect the information told by the film’s many contributors, from relatives of the three main figures, executives from United Artists, cast and crew members, to the Bonds themselves (minus, to the documentary’s detriment, Sean Connery).
The effect of this visual style gives the film a sense of lyrical movement, illustrating Riley’s knowledge of and devotion to the films, while also allows the story of Bond to almost be told in ‘his own words,’ his actions, quotes, glances, stunts and physical presence crucial to the film and creating a dynamic form of storytelling that elevates Riley’s film beyond standard documentary fodder.
An element of criticism that could be seen to taint this otherwise excellent editing strategy is the glossing over of some installments of the series. However, the most important films in relation to the identity and success of the Bond franchise are explored in great depth, with key insight from those involved, giving the sweep of the series’ history more drama and detail.
The level of humour, enthusiasm and insight the Bond actors exude provide the film’s best moments; all of the actors infuse the film with personality and illustrate the endurance of Bond as cultural icon from their personal perspective of living the character.
Everything or Nothing is essential viewing for any fan of 007, an endlessly watchable journey through the history of one of the twentieth century’s most enduring icons. The film ultimately reveals the story of James Bond to be more than that of a dashing, martini drinking, masculine fantasy; but rather the story of three rebels: Ian Fleming, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. 50 years on, James Bond will return…because of them and their passion.
Matthew has awarded Everything or Nothing four Torches of Truth.