Dr Martin D Brown

From Richmond with Love: The history professor who teaches Bondology

A history professor at Richmond, The American International University in London who teaches ‘Bondology’ has given his verdict on new film, No Time to Die.

Dr Martin D Brown, 50, of Hammersmith, has taught 20th century international history by looking at the films, books and surrounding materials featuring James Bond for over 10 years.

No Time to Die, which is set to be the last film to feature current Bond actor Daniel Craig, 53, was released on Thursday 30 September after a star-studded premiere at the Royal Albert Hall last Tuesday.

After seeing the film Brown said: “I liked it, I found it very enjoyable and I think it’s a very fitting conclusion to the Craig era.

“I enjoyed how self-referential it was to the earlier Bond franchises, with hints in music, images and references to storylines going all the way back to the books.

“As a ‘Bondologist’, which I might call myself, to be able to see and know these references is very enjoyable.”

Brown started using Bond to teach his students after finding first year seminars could be boring and switch students off.

He added: “I thought, if I was an undergraduate coming into my first semester what would I find interesting? 

“Of course I’m a Bond fan, growing up in the 1970s and 80s in Britain it would be quite weird if you didn’t have some relationship to Bond.

“It’s part and parcel of British identity, especially after the 2012 Olympics when the Queen jumped out of a helicopter with him, he’s now part of brand GB.

“Royals have attended the premieres since the 1960s. Bond is so strange and therefore so interesting because I don’t know of any other film franchise where the state, with a monarchy, promotes it.”

Alongside Craig, No Time To Die stars Rami Malek and Léa Seydoux and has received mostly positive reviews.

It is also projected to have earned $119 million internationally across its opening weekend, making it the first Hollywood release in pandemic times to generate more than $100 million without China.

Brown is now redesigning the course to focus on fictionalised espionage on screen, to avoid putting off students who aren’t Bond fans.

He said: “Espionage on film is something that most countries now have some version of. From Bollywood to China, they’ve all got their own sort of James Bond, whether that’s serious or humorous.

“People think it’s superhero franchises that invented the cultural multiverse, not at all.

“Bond was a comic strip, Bond has been a TV cartoon, James Bond Jr.

“A lot of people today didn’t come to James Bond through the novels or Sean Connery, they came to James Bond through the computer game Goldeneye.

“I think Ian Fleming would have found it all very amusing but also a bit bizarre that it’s still going on almost 70 or 75 years after he started writing the things.”

Brown has co-written a book entitled The Bondian Cold War, a collection of articles and essays, which should be released before the end of the year.

Featured image credit: Kadri Kõusaar

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