Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bond James Bond - What Did Ian Fleming's Bond Look Like?


Technology has provided a glimpse into the mind of Ian Fleming when he was imagining what James Bond, his most famous creation, looked like.

Ian Fleming had in mind seven actors he thought would be best to play 007 in Dr No, the first of the Bond books to get the big screen treatment.

Researchers have now put together a composite photograph of the seven actors to reveal the face of Bond as envisaged by his creator and it is, arguably, closer to actor George Lazenby, who is widely considered the worst of all Bonds.

It is the first time that the technique, called prototyping, has been used to identify a fictional face but it has been shown to be accurate in creating pictures of crime suspects based on witness descriptions.

BACKGROUND
Is this the Bond as Fleming saw him?
Monster's Ball film-maker to direct next Bond
Film: Casino Royale
Casino Royale
Bond's new love interest never says never again
Related Internet Links
2007 London Film Festival coverage
Times Online Film Trailers
Fleming’s first choice as Bond was Cary Grant but he was too expensive and the role eventually went to Sean Connery, whom many now believe to have been the best 007 of all.

Lazenby followed Connery, now Sir Sean Connery, in the role but lasted just one film. Roger Moore was the third Bond, followed by Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and, most recently, Daniel Craig.

Others on Fleming’s 1961 list of actors with the right faces were David Niven, James Mason, Patrick McGoohan, Rex Harrison, Richard Burton and Stewart Granger.

Fleming was inclined to have Niven but the actor turned down the part because he felt he was too old, although he later played Bond in the spoof 007 film, Casino Royale.

Connery failed to make the list and Fleming had serious misgivings about him but the researchers said the prototype picture looked more like him than any of the other five actors to play Bond.

“The image shows a clean-cut, classic-looking face which is far more Connery than Craig,” said Professor Richard Wiseman, who helped conduct the study. “Perhaps this is another way of resolving the question who is the best Bond.”

The process uses complex software to merge multiple images, creating one composite photograph, and psychologists hope the technique will provide insights into how the mind retains images.

Professor Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, said: “This is a fun application but the more serious side is, if you have eyewitnesses to a crime, their e-fits all have differences. If you morph those e-fits, what you end up with is much more accurate.”

Rob Jenkins, a psychology lecturer at the University of Glasgow, helped with the study and said: “I think Sean Connery comes out of it quite well — certainly more so than Roger Moore. I also think it looks quite like Cary Grant who, of course, was Fleming’s first choice as Bond.”

Despite Fleming’s original doubts about Connery, the actor’s performance won him over and in later books he gave 007 a partial Scottish ancestry. Nevertheless, whatever image Fleming had of Bond before Dr Nowas filmed, it did not appear to quite match what he wrote earlier in Casino Royale.

Describing Bond in the 1953 book, the first of series, the author wrote: “It was a dark, clean-cut face, with a three-inch scar showing whitely down the sunburned skin of the right cheek . . . His features relapsed into a taciturn mask, ironical, brutal, and cold.” The exercise will be discussed at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre in London tomorrow night.

— A Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver made for Fleming after he wrote The Man With the Golden Gun, featuring a Colt .45, is to be sold by Bonhams. Estimate: £10-15,000

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