Ice, Water, and the Elemental in “No Time To Die” Trailers

I am thinking about ice, water, and the elemental featured in the No Time To Die (2020) trailers on a frigid day in Oklahoma. I originally posted my thoughts as a Twitter thread and decided to compile them into my first blog post.

No Time to Die (2020) trailer

There is a strong link between water and femininity across the James Bond series. Water is largely considered to be a feminine element given its connection to maternity and the waters of life. Various Bond scholars have explored the link between women and water in the series (see my article with Klaus Dodds for instance). Bond often meets, woos, and sleeps with women under water. But this element is reclaimed and associated with Craig’s Bond in Casino Royale (2006) when he, and not Vesper Lynd, emerges from the sea in a bathing suit. This scene is an homage to Dr. No (1962) and recalls the introduction of quintessential Bond Girl Honey Ryder. As I have argued elsewhere, Craig’s Bond is positioned through the iconography of the Bond Girl and presented as a Bond-Bond Girl hybrid in the film. It is Solange Dimitrios and later Vesper Lynd who watch Bond emerge from the sea and the audience shares their POVs. These scenes effectively establish a female gaze in the film.

Casino Royale (2006)

In Casino Royale, there is a shift in heroic model away from the British lover literary tradition. Instead, Bond is presented through a more hard-bodied model of masculinity popularized in Hollywood blockbusters. As the heroic model changes, so too are the ways in which Bond’s masculinity are tested and confirmed (i.e. a shift from libido-based challenges to more physical ones). This in turn alters the relationship between Bond and the elements. Bond’s mastery of water as a Naval Commander becomes less about seduction (e.g. wooing Domino Derval underwater in Thunderball) and more about physical survival (e.g. opening of Skyfall).

Thunderball (1965) and Skyfall (2012)

The icy imagery in No Time To Die also recalls the underwater scene at the end of Skyfall. While ice can contain and obscure (i.e. keeping the truth hidden and below the surface), water is also associated with the process of rebirth. Skyfall offers a fitting end to the orphan origin trilogy – Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace (2008), and Skyfall – with Bond emerging as a (super)spy at the conclusion of the film. Is Bond 25 suggesting another ‘return’ or ‘rebirth’ of Bond in the Craig era?

In The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), the doppelganger Charly resurfaces during the torture sequence in icy water. She embodies Freud’s theory of the “uncanny” – that which should remain hidden is ‘scary’ when it reemerges – and appears monstrous upon her return. Her skin not only turns blue (suggesting a hardening of her body in the freezing water) but she also appears colder emotionally and more focused on vengeance.

Will James Bond be presented as dangerous and threatening upon his return to the service/field in No Time To Die? The imagery and symbolism in the trailers especially with the prevalence of the color blue in both costuming and promotional materials suggest this is a strong possibility. Will the color blue be aligned with the loyal servants of MI6 as in Skyfall (see my book with Klaus Dodds for a discussion of this), the waters of life, or even the hardening of Bond emotionally? We will soon find out.

No Time to Die (2020)

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