Bond: Born in Jamacia

(Note: This article was first published on the Hero Collector website – June 18, 2019)

1952 – A morning swim in a private cove, followed by a breakfast of scrambled eggs lovingly prepared by the housekeeper, then off to the study with a view over the garden watching the colorful Jamaican birds at play. The hands rest on the keyboard of the twenty-year-old Imperial typewriter that has been the birthplace of many a travel article or journalistic report for masters back at The Sunday Times in London. But today the keys spell out a different story, a different beginning: “The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.”

As with any new novel the hero needs a name, one that sounds ordinary, that won’t attract attention. A quick scan of the books in the study, and there on the desk is the much-thumbed copy of Birds of the West Indies. The book author’s name might just work for the hero. Let’s try it out… “James Bond suddenly knew that he was tired. he always knew when his body or mind had had enough and he always acted on the knowledge.”

The keys kept going. At the corner desk in his study at Goldeneye, his private annual retreat in the Caribbean, journalist, playboy, traveler, and one-time military intelligence officer, Ian Lancaster Fleming knew he was on to something.
Fleming often said that the Bond books would not have “been born if I hadn’t been living in the vacuum of a Jamaican holiday.”

And Jamaica has stayed as perhaps the most persistent aspect of the Bond story throughout the years, appearing in the Fleming-penned novels Doctor No, Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun, as well as the Quantum of Solace, For Your Eyes Only, and Octopussy short stories, plus several of the various continuation novels by a variety of authors.

The impact of Jamaica on the perhaps better-known movie franchise is equally pronounced as it is there right from the first frame of the first movie as Dr. No opens with a street scene, and assassination, set in Kingston Jamaica; with Bond soon on the island to investigate the murder and the mysterious activities of the titular villain. The island is also used as a location, but renamed as the fictional Sam Monique, in Live And Let Die, Roger Moore’s debut outing as 007.

The influence and link to the birthplace of the literary Bond was central to the recent official launch to mark the start of production for the, as yet untitled, 25th official Bond movie. The event was hosted, and live-streamed, from the lawns at Goldeneye. With current Bond actor, Daniel Craig, present to make what is said to be his last outing in the role, along with several of the cast, director Cary Fukunaga, and long-time producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli in attendance.

Location filming continued almost immediately after the launch event, with an indication that the twenty-fifth movie will, like the first, start with scenes set in Jamaica. A fitting setting with which to usher in the next phase of the Bond story.

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