Bond in Motion – London Film Museum

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It might sound weird but I am a really big James Bond fan. When I was younger I watched all the films and I still go to the cinema every time a new one gets released. I’m certainly not immune to the franchise’s flaws, but it doesn’t stop me enjoying a bit of escapism.

The London Film Museum – not a place I’d ever been aware of, although it’s been in its present location in Covent Garden since 2012 – is currently dedicated to a Bond in Motion exhibition, showcasing many of the vehicles from the James Bond films. It’s been on for a while, but I’m glad I waited until now to go, as it now has a selection of vehicles from the latest film, Spectre. To be honest, the exhibition shows no sign of leaving, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it eventually contained vehicles from whichever Bond film comes next.

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Little Nellie

As you enter the exhibition you can see Little Nellie, the helicopter from You Only Live Twice, hanging from the ceiling. A small exhibition space on the mezzanine contains diagrams and other memorabilia, but its when you take the lift down to the basement that the exhibition proper really begins.

There are many, many vehicles on display: mostly, but not exclusively, cars. They span the whole half-century of Bond films. Some have damage that was caused by stunts used in filming.

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Crocodile sub from Octopussy

Information panels explain the statistics relating to each vehicle: I confess I didn’t pay much attention to these. Of more interest were the short film clips demonstrating each car in action.

At the end of the exhibition there is a cafe and a small gift shop. You exit into Covent Garden, right beside the London Transport Museum. The cafe is open to all: it might be a good refreshment option if you’re passing through the area and all the cafes are really crowded.

Obviously, Bond in Motion is going to appeal more to those who love cars. I’m not one of those people, but it was nice to experience a bit of escapism and relive some of the fun moments from the Bond films. The exhibition is pretty pricey, but look out for offers: I got mine through Living Social.

FACTS

Address: 45 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7BN

Website: londonfilmmuseum.com

Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm (except certain closure days advertised on website), open until 7pm on Saturdays

Prices: Adults £14.50, concessions £9.50; under 5s free

Skyfall

On Sunday I went to see Skyfall at the BFI IMAX, near Waterloo station. I couldn’t believe how expensive it was. There’s a reason I don’t go to the cinema very much anymore. Still, it was JAMES BOND.

Skyfall poster

One of the friends who came to see the film with me commented that one of her friends had seen it, and that that their verdict was that it was good, but Daniel Craig kept taking his top off. I have no idea why this is considered a bad thing.

I did think the film was excellent, a fitting marker of the fiftieth anniversary of the 007 franchise. I’ve been a fan since my childhood; I love the old sixties films with Sean Connery, but the films need to adapt and change in order to stay fresh and relevant, and I thought Sam Mendes did a brilliant job at bringing the series up to date while still remaining true to the spirit of the originals. Continuing the rejuvenation of the series, which began with the superb Casino Royale and continued with the less impressive Quantum of Solace, we find out more about Bond’s troubled background, are reacquainted with Judi Dench’s M – determined to prove that MI6 is as relevant as ever in the modern age – and are introduced to Q, no longer the white haired and white coated eccentric of the old days, but an incredibly youthful computer geek, played by Ben Whishaw. “Were you expecting an exploding pen?” he says to Bond when they meet for the first time in the National Gallery. “We don’t really go in for that any more”. We also meet another character familiar to fans of the series – I won’t say any more for fear of spoilers.

Javier Bardem’s villain is chilling and camp, and in a modern twist is a whiz at technology, sabotaging computer systems from the safety of his private island. The locations in this film are stunning, from Turkey to Shanghai and Macau, though my favourite parts were those set in London: as a bit of a London Underground geek, I was excited to see Bond weaving his way through the subterranean tunnels of London and amused to watch him try to navigate the tube at rush hour: though as my friend pointed out, it was wrong that he was travelling on a Jubilee Line train on a District Line track. I doubt that many people would notice this, though!

The ending of the film made me sad as I hadn’t seen it coming. I was pleased once I realised what the title of the film was referring to, as this had me puzzled for a while.

I loved Skyfall and can’t wait for the next instalment of Bond in a few years’ time. I understand that Daniel Craig will be returning, which makes me extremely happy.

Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style – Barbican

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films, the Barbican currently has an exhibition of artefacts and items from the series called Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style. I knew I wanted to see this straight away, as I’m a big Bond fan. Happily, the exhibition is open late during the week. I went to the Barbican straight after work last Wednesday and as I  crossed the entrance threshold was greeted by this:

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Does he resemble Sean Connery?

Because of the way the Barbican is laid out, the entire exhibition couldn’t be contained within one area, so you have to present your ticket to be stamped at the beginning of each section. The first time, your ticket is stamped with a zero. The second time, you also get a zero stamp, and the third time… well, you can see where this is going.

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I loved the exhibition. It was expensive at £12, but there was lots to see – I was in there over an hour and a half. There were lots of artefacts and memorabilia on display, such as Oddjob’s hat, the golden gun, a fake golden ingot from Goldfinger, and Vesper’s necklace from Casino Royale. I loved the section on Q’s gadgets, which had, among other things, the little Snooper Dog from A View to a Kill. Screens overhead played video clips showing the items in action. There was a large costume display of original and reconstructed garments belonging to Bond and his friends and enemies, as well as numerous evening gowns worn by the women (including one from the as-yet-unreleased Skyfall). The displays spanned the entire half-century of 007: the bikinis of Ursula Andress and Halle Berry were displayed, as were swimming trunks belonging to both Sean Connery and Daniel Craig. I enjoyed, too, looking at the costume and set designs from the 1960s to the early 21st century, encompassing the different countries Bond visits.

Most of the exhibition was shown in the first section, while the second was devoted to the Bond villains. Bond villains have to be recognisably ‘other’: they need something that marks them out as different, such as a physical disability, a foreign appearance, or a ‘different’ style of clothing. This is obviously problematic and throws up the rather conservative and old-fashioned attitudes inherent in the franchise. This section was really interesting though and had some iconic objects on display, notably Rosa Klebb’s poisoned shoes shown in From Russia With Love.

The third section was the ‘Ice Palace’, which had as a centrepiece a model of the ice hotel from Die Another Day, with video clips of Bond’s various ski-ing-related exploits on the surrounding walls. Some of the stunts are pretty impressive.

I was planning on having a Martini in the specially-created bar; I took the lift to the first floor, went to the bar, saw that the cocktails cost eight pounds each, and went straight back downstairs again. I did, however, pick up this souvenir in the gift shop:

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After the exhibition I wandered outside to find somewhere to eat my sandwich. I’d never been to the outside seating area, and though it’s a bit of a concrete jungle, I actually quite like it.

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The Barbican is a theatre as well as an exhibition centre, art gallery and general Space Where Interesting Things Happen. I went to see a performance of the musical Carousel on the same evening (I wrote a review here). A very enjoyable evening was had altogether.

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