With the release of Skyfall this November along with the 50th anniversary of James Bond on the big screen, I began to look back on my visit to the Imperial War Museum in London in January 2009. It was my first trip to the UK, and I was staying with my aunt and uncle who lived in Kent (approx. 35 to 40 min. from London via rail). Among the places they suggested to visit was the Imperial War Museum (which was undergoing some renovations to the outside of the building).
Of particular interest to me about the Imperial War Museum was the Ian Fleming exhibition that was going on at the time. Ian Fleming, of course, was the man who created the world’s most famous fictional spy, 007 James Bond. The exhibition at the Imperial War Museum (officially called “For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond”) was the first major exhibition that focused on the famous author. I was surprised to discover that the Bond stories were inspired by Fleming’s World War II and Cold War experiences. A number of items were on display, most of which were never displayed in public before. Among the items on display were the cover for the book “Casino Royale” that Fleming had designed, Rosa Kleb’s flick-knife shoes from 1963’s From Russia With Love, Fleming’s desk and chair from his Jamaican home in Goldeneye, the bomb from 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, Fleming’s Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver, Halle Berry’s bikini from 2002’s Die Another Day, vintage Bond posters, DanielCraig’s blood-stained white shirt from 2006’s Casino Royale, and various manuscripts, photos, clothes, and correspondence. I enjoyed the exhibition very much, and even bought one of the Bond movie posters as a souvenir. I do have two regrets, though, regarding the exhibition. The first is that photography was not allowed, so I was unable to take any pictures (all the pictures displayed are from whatever I was able to find online related to the exhibition). The second is that I didn’t buy Ben Macintyre’s companion book “For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond” (I don’t know what I was thinking).
So where do we go from here? Well, it’s interesting that of the 23 official Bond films (1967’s Casino Royale and 1983’s Never Say Never Again don’t count, and aren’t really good anyway), only two weren’t really good (1985’s A View To A Kill and 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies). As for Skyfall, I am looking forward to its release this November. Sam Mendes is a terrific filmmaker (2005’s Jarhead being the only bad film in an otherwise impressive resume), and Daniel Craig is back for the third time as Agent 007. I’m very excited for James Bond’s return to the big screen!