James Bond was a rapist, says new 007 director

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Thunderball
Thunderball

For many filmgoers, Sean Connery as James Bond remains the ultimate ladies’ man. The director of the new Bond adventure has an alternative take: Connery’s 007 was a rapist.

Cary Fukunaga said the franchise had moved away from its dubious beginnings.

“Is it Thunderball or Goldfinger where, like, basically Sean Connery’s character rapes a woman? She’s like, ‘No, no, no,’ and he’s like, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ That wouldn’t fly today,” said Fukunaga, director of No Time To Die.

He is understood to be referring to a scene in Thunderball, released in 1965, between Connery and Molly Peters.

Peters plays Patricia Fearing, a nurse at a health farm. When they first meet, she firmly rejects his advances, including pushing him away when he forcibly kisses her.

But after he nearly dies on a traction machine nicknamed “The Rack”, Bond says he will complain to her bosses. A frightened Fearing tells him: “You wouldn’t tell Doctor Wade? Please, I’d lose my job.” “Well, I suppose my silence could have a price,” Bond replies.

Fearing backs away, saying: “You don’t mean… oh, no!” “Oh, yes,” says Bond, and pursues her into the steam room, where he immediately removes her clothes.

Connery is similarly forceful in the 1964 Bond film Goldfinger, where he wrestles with Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore, pinning her to the ground until she finally succumbs to his charms.

Fukunaga was speaking to The Hollywood Reporter to promote No Time To Die, which has its world premiere next week.

The magazine also spoke to Barbara Broccoli, the producer, about misogyny in Bond films. Her late father, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, produced the Bond franchise until his death in 1996.

“I think people are coming around - with some kicking and screaming - to accepting that stuff is no longer acceptable. Thank goodness,” she said.

“Bond is a character who was written in 1952 and the first film came out in 1962. He’s got a long history, and the history of the past is very different to the way he is being portrayed now.”

Dr Lisa Funnell, a professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Oklahoma, teaches a Gender and James Bond course and is the author of For His Eyes Only: The Women of James Bond.

Writing on her blog, Dr Funnell said her students found the Thunderball scene to be “especially troubling”.

“On multiple occasions, Patricia Fearing rejects the physical and verbal advances of Bond, making it clear that she is not interested in sexual activity. Bond does not accept her rejections or respect her bodily autonomy, and eventually blackmails Fearing into sleeping with him,” Dr Funnell said.

“In popular culture, James Bond is known for his sexual magnetism and ability to attract women. This scene in Thunderball challenges the way we ‘remember’ Connery’s Bond while forgetting his use of deception, intimidation and sexual violence to accomplish his professional and personal goals.

“In the #MeToo era, it is important that we see the full picture and examine the messages being relayed through popular culture and its icons about gender, sex/sexuality and power.”

Dr Funnell told The Telegraph: “Affirmative consent is strikingly absent in the Connery-era James Bond films as well as their source novels. The confusion of director Cary Fukunaga might stem from the fact that sexual violence is prominently featured in both Goldfinger and Thunderball.”

In Goldfinger’s Pussy Galore scene, Dr Funnell said the film “sends the message that with enough pressure, a woman, and in this case a lesbian (as noted in the source novel and suggested in the film) will change her mind and give in to the desires of a man.

“While the early James Bond films and their source novels were products of their time, the ideas conveyed through them about sexual violence were never OK.” 

However, she added: “The assumption that the James Bond films have progressed (simply because time has passed) is incorrect”, pointing to Skyfall, in which Daniel Craig’s Bond seduces a woman who has been forced into sex work and remains a captive.

In his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Fukunaga said Craig’s final outing as 007 would have a more respectful view of women. “You can’t change Bond overnight into a different person. But you can definitely change the world around him,” he said.

Watch: Viral "Me Too." Meme Brings Awareness To Sexual Violence | The Teen Vogue Take

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