Monday, August 20, 2007

For Your Eyes Only

Following the sad news earlier this month of Bond author John Gardner’s death, we have some happier Bond-related news to report: a Times-supported exhibition entitled “For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond” will run from April 25, 2008, to March 1, 2009, at the Imperial War Museum in London.

The Times has presented several features to mark this interesting exhibition. Firstly, Ben Macintyre reports a little about Bond creator Ian Fleming:
Ian Fleming had tried his hand as a stockbroker, a reporter on The Times and, during the Second World War, a spymaster in the Naval Intelligence Division. But shortly before the end of the war he told a friend: “I am going to write the spy story to end all spy stories.” By the time of his death, in 1964, Fleming had written 14 Bond books, sold more than 40 million copies, creating a character with a lasting grip on popular culture.

Working for The Times and then The Sunday Times, Fleming travelled to distant and glamorous locations. Like all the best journalists he was a magpie, gathering anything that caught his eye: gizmos, plots and personalities. Fleming often based his characters, including Bond, on people he had met, and he gathered names from his wide acquaintance. The villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, for example, was named after the father of the cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, who had been at Eton with Fleming.
The full Times piece can be found here. Meanwhile, Ben Hoyle, also of The Times, reports on the forthcoming exhibition:
For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond, which opens next April, will be the first comprehensive exhibition exploring the Bond phenomenon and the life of his creator.

Fleming’s research notes for From Russia with Love will be on display alongside prototypes of the flick-knife shoes worn by Rosa Klebb in the film, Goldfinger’s golf shoes, a “blood-splattered” shirt worn by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale and Halle Berry’s bikini from Die Another Day.

The centenary of Fleming’s birth will be reached on May 28 next year, and Bond will be fêted throughout 2008. A 22nd film is expected in November next year, with Craig reprising his gritty interpretation of the role. Sebastian Faulks, the author of Birdsong, will publish a new Bond book, Devil May Care, which has been commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications.

For Your Eyes Only will bring together Fleming’s personal effects with an unparalleled range of Bond memorabilia to discover where the identity of the debonair spymaster, journalist and bon vivant ended and the fictional secret agent began.

James Taylor, the curator of the exhibition, said that the author and his character had clear similarities. They were both Scottish, they both excelled at sport and they both lost their father[s] when they were young. Like Bond, Fleming loved luxury. His expenses claims as a reporter were preposterously extravagant. Mr Taylor said: “It was said of Churchill that he was easily satisfied with the best of everything, and I think you could say the same of Fleming.”

But there were also well-defined differences. “They were two different people. Bond is, in some ways, who Fleming would have liked to have been. During the war he worked in Naval Intelligence but it was a desk job. He wasn’t able to partake in any frontline operations. Bond also acts as a mouthpiece for Fleming’s own world view, particularly as regards Britain’s role in the world.”
The exhibition will explore how one middle-aged man’s idea generated an entire industry. Not only books and films, but also parodies, toys, games, and clothes that all fueled the development of a very British hero. The complete Times article is here.

Also in The Times: Do you fancy following in Fleming’s footsteps as a famous author of fiction for children? (Remember, Fleming penned Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.) Well, you can discover the very first step here, then follow that up with an entry form right here.

READ MORE:London Museum to Showcase Bond Paraphernalia,” by Jamie Portman (CanWest News Service).

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