A Quantum of Anti-Imperialism …..

The reviews of director Marc Forster’s “Quantum of Solace” have complained about the film’s hectic pace (reminiscent of Doug Liman’s and Paul Greengrass’s Bourne thrillers), about the humorlessness of Daniel Craig’s Bond, and even about the squalid surroundings, so unlike Monaco and Prague, in which the film is set (with many scenes in Haiti and Bolivia). They have missed the most remarkable departure of all. Forster presents us with a new phenomenon in the James Bond films, a Bond at odds with the United States, who risks his career to save Evo Morales’s leftist regime in Bolivia from being overthrown by a General Medrano, who is helped by the CIA and a private mercenary organization called Quantum. In short, this Bond is more Michael Moore than Roger Moore.

The plot of the film was developed by producer Michael G. Wilson during the filming of “Casino Royale.” New York-born Wilson is from a show-business family (his father, Lewis Wilson, was the first actor to play Batman on screen, and his step-father, Albert Broccoli, was long the producer of the Bond films). But Wilson did a law degree at Stanford in the 1960s and worked for a while at a firm specializing in international law. Outrage at offenses against international law are as much at the heart of this film as the more personal vendettas of Bond and Camille (Olga Kurylenko). …………………….

…………..  With this film, Daniel Craig’s Bond, who is from a considerably lower social class than Flemings’, has chosen to defy the white-tie set, and the Bush administration’s greed and lawlessness, and to stand up for the little people (including Camille, who symbolizes Morales’s Indios). At one point the smarmy CIA man Beame rejects any criticism from Bond of US imperialism, given Britain’s own long and sordid imperial history. But a country, and a people, always has a choice in each generation, of whether to do the right thing. They are not prisoners of their ancestors.

Craig’s Bond is an intimation of the sort of Britain that could have been, if Tony Blair had stood up to Bush and refused to be dragged into an illegal war of choice, and into other actions and policies that profoundly contradicted the principles on which the Labour Party had been founded (and you could imagine Craig’s Bond voting for Old Labour, while Flemings’s was obviously a Tory). In a way, this Bond stands in for Clare Short, who resigned as a cabinet minister from Blair’s government in 2003 over the illegitimacy of the Iraq War.

It is a sad state of affairs that Bush’s America now appears in a Bond film in rather the same light as Brezhnev’s Soviet Union used to. One can only hope that President Barack Obama can adopt the sort of policies that can get Bond back on our side.

( many thanks Juan ..

Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. )

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