A thousand miles and poles apart
Where worlds collide and days are dark
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Co-written by Paul Epworth and Adele, "Skyfall" was the result of writing to a script, fashioning a song around a film which they had not yet seen. And the effort was rewarded: it became the first 007 theme in over 50 years of Bond films to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Since Ian Fleming's Casino Royale
was published in 1952, Commander James Bond has been an action hero legend. At first only a literary character, the infamous British Secret Service agent, 007, leapt onto the screen in 1962's Dr. No
, played by Sean Connery.
Millions of fans all over the world are familiar with Bond's exploits in the film versions of Fleming's books, but few have read the originals or know much about the inspiration or personal history of the character. In 2012's Skyfall
, audiences were treated to a rare glimpse of the super spy's childhood home and an eye-opening - albeit brief - trek down 007's memory lane.
James Bond travels around the world under the employ of MI-6, fighting against any enemies that may cross paths with the royal crown – including Russians, Chinese, independent megalomaniacs, and shadow syndicates like SPECTRE and QUANTUM. The character was conceived from a fusion of real-life commandos Fleming met during his stint in British Naval Intelligence during World War II. The name, James Bond, was the most boring and dull Fleming could come up with to juxtapose the wild adventures and situations in which he planned on placing 007. Interestingly, there was an actual James Bond who got a kick out of Fleming's use of his name (he was an American, not a Brit… and an ornithologist, not a secret agent).
In Fleming's original stories, Bond is in his mid-to-late 30s, but never manages to age (as evidenced by fifty years of films spanning generations, yet casting the same style of actor). Fleming never gave 007 a birth date. However, in his authorized biography (Bond's, not Fleming's), the date is given as November 11th, 1920, which presently puts him just shy of a century. Since the 1960s when the films took off in popularity, James Bond has become a cultural icon who is able to traverse across the space-time continuum and land in the modern age with just as much tenacity and talent as he had during the Cold War.
But who really is
"James Bond"? The son of Andrew Bond and Monique Delacroix, James was raised in the highlands of Scotland near Glencoe, but spent much of his early youth living abroad because of his father's job selling arms to private companies and foreign governments. He quickly became multilingual - German and French, followed by others. Both of his parents were killed in a mountain climbing accident during a holiday in the French Alps when he was only 11, and he was returned to the United Kingdom to be raised by his aunt and complete his education.
He grew up and joined both the Royal British Navy, which became the Ministry of Defence, and then, directly following the War, applied and was accepted into the Secret Service. The rest, as they say, is fictional history.
But what of Skyfall, his childhood home? The house may be fictional, but the location is very much real.
Often considered one of the stunningly visual landscapes on the globe, Glencoe is a glen of volcanic origin in the highlands of Scotland. The name, which means "Glen of Weeping," is rumored to be in reference to the 1692 massacre - depicted in Mel Gibson's Braveheart
- during which almost 100 men, women, and children were murdered. But the name isn't a literal translation. The glen is most likely named for the River Coe which runs through it and was thusly named centuries prior to the massacre.
Glencoe Village is the main settlement, located near the glen just off the coast of the saltwater Loch Leven and it is most likely this establishment that provided Fleming with the inspiration for Bond's back story. In Skyfall
, Bond's ancestral home is a manor – the ancestral home for the lead character. During the film's climax, he and M retreat to the lodge and meet the caretaker, Kincade, whom James remembers from his childhood, and the three raise the defenses against a siege from the arch villain of the story.
The filming location actually takes place in the Scottish Highlands, in all their majesty. The structure itself is a grand work of stone and appears much like the mansions you'd expect to find in the works of Shakespeare or even Rowling. There's a certain fairy-tale-esque quality to it – it leaps at you as if from the pages of your favorite story book. However, at the end of the film, Bond is forced to destroy the house, muttering that he, 'always hated this place,' and feels little to no remorse in its demise. That in and of itself is a shame, since it is hauntingly beautiful and a place I – and millions of other moviegoers – would love to visit.Justin Novelli
November 18, 2013
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