What Bond’s Skyfall tells us about Britain: A review

Posted on 26 October 2012 - 3 Comments

With a strong theme of old versus new, the latest James Bond epic, which premiers tonight, tells an interesting story about Britain today, writes Georgia Hussey.

Skyfall’s plot sees Bond fighting a cyberterrorist attack against the MI6, making the tussle in the film between the old school Bond of espionage and Empire and the modern-day Internet age. Through this, what emerges is a similar story of Britain we saw in Danny Boyle’s Olympic ceremony: of a country able to celebrate its past, but also able to laugh at its traditional quirks and embrace the modern.

Judi Dench plays M in new James BondWith a comical reappearance of Bond’s classic Aston Martin (complete with passenger eject button), and jokes about M’s Union Jack British Bulldog paperweight, Skyfall is the perfect celebration of 50 years of a very British institution. And with the relationship between Bond and M coming into focus in the film, all that was lacking was Daniel Craig and Judi Dench tandem-parachuting into an Olympic stadium.

But the film does come to a more serous note, where Dench’s M quotes from Tennyson’s Ulysses. She reads:

“Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Its hard not to see this as a quite poignant message about modern day Britain. Just as in the 2012 Olympics, what we can see is a post-Empire, post-recession Britain stating its new place in the world; Skyfall describes a Britain comfortable enough to look at its past, to celebrate its good bits, and laugh at itself – just as Danny Boyle did in the opening ceremony. It’s a story of a Britain united, made strong by its past, and proud of where it is today.



  • Comment by Mr Silva at 17:31 on 26.10.12

    You’ve seem to completely missed the sarcastic point of the film. It is actually the villain who says it best
    “England, the empire, MI6. So old fashioned.” Nothing new here. And the story sees its ending in Scotland of all the places. That is definitely symbolic of the fate the United Kingdom is headed for.

    Do yourself a favour and go watch it first before you write a review on it.

    • Comment by Georgia at 18:05 on 26.10.12

      Yes its old fashioned. My point is that the film looks at that comically but fondly, from a modern perspective – like Q’s joke about those gadgets not being quite MI6’s style anymore (you see I have watched it)