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Celebrating 50 years of 007

Updated: 2012-07-30 13:26
By Julie Lasky ( The New York Times)

Bond, James Bond, is unflappable. In fact, he's made of wax. As embodied by a statue of Sean Connery leaning against an Aston Martin DB5, he marks the entrance to "Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style," an exhibition that recently opened at the Barbican Centre in London.

The show features props and costumes from 23 movies from "Dr. No" (1962) to "Skyfall," the latest, which opens in the United States in November.

The exhibition's designer, Ab Rogers, explained how he had to create a thoughtful context for some 400 items.

Q.Take me on a little tour.

Celebrating 50 years of 007

A.The exhibition is based around a collection of rooms, each with its own scale and display mechanisms. The rooms deal with themes that occur right across the franchise: gold, gadgets, casinos, exotic locations, villains and enigmas, ice palaces and dry martinis. You enter through the barrel of Bond's gun into the Gold Room, which examines Bond and gold in a series of films. It's hard playing with gold and not creating something that was super kitschy.

Q.There's a life-size replica of the gold-painted woman from "Goldfinger" in that room. Sounds pretty kitschy.

A.She died through the use of gold. There's too much cynicism there for it possibly to be kitsch.

From there you go into a small room wrapped in felt, an abstract of Ian Fleming's office inspired by his life in Jamaica. The sound of a typewriter and birds punctuate the room. Then we move on to M's office, from the early '60s through to 2012.

From there you go to Q's lab, where raw plywood packing cases containing original gadgets, and design drawings are stacked dizzyingly from floor to ceiling.

Next you go into this cathedral-like casino. Then into the locations section, where we used a brilliant pale blue that represents the sky, the sea and also Daniel Craig's swimming trunks.


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Q.Do you watch the TV series "Mad Men"? The latest season ended with the theme to "You Only Live Twice." The early '60s celebrated suavity, but I can't remember the last time I heard anyone referred to as suave.

A. I think the fascinating thing about Bond was that he was a slightly bullish, womanizing beast, but also an incredibly sophisticated character who knew everything from wine to diamonds to tea. And he was pretty unpleasant to women. When they tried to make him politically correct, during Timothy Dalton's short career, that was a disaster.

Q.You describe the exhibition progressing much as Bond does through a movie, from M's office to Q's lab to exotic foreign locations. May I ask where it ends?

A.The final room of the exhibition is the Ice Palace, where the focus is on large-scale stunts and set pieces, and you have a whole series of costumes, films and props. Then you have to end up getting hopelessly drunk at the specially designed bar on lots of martinis - shaken, not stirred.

The New York Times

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