Daniel Craig’s debut as James Bond inadvertently gives us a glimpse of 007’s inbox – and here’s what we learned.
Spoilers Await Casino Royale (2006)
Over the weekend, I returned to the very beginning of Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond 007, with a film that I rank among the best in the saga: 2006’s Casino Royale. I can point out that he still stands up too, that the end of the final act is the only element that, in my opinion, lets the air a little through, but other than that, it’s great.
It was also a film that played a central role in the launch of the Blu-ray format by consumers, as it became a kind of test for whether we, the buying public, would buy high definition versions of films. The answer: we will, but with DVD still by far the best-selling physical media format, we just won’t buy that many buggers. Nonetheless, home viewing in HD had arrived.
Yet many of us buy our movies at higher definitions now and in fact. Casino Royale has since appeared on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. As such, it’s wonderful for pedantic audiences or those who edit a website with a habit of over-analyzing things. Yeah, I’m the person who uses high definition to look at the newspaper text that we see in movies and things like that. Not with an urge to hit or anything, plus I think it’s just fun. There’s just that combination of one thing we’ve always had at home – the pause button – with greater picture clarity than ever before. It’s a deadly match when maturity isn’t a strong trait of yours.
And it was with that in mind that I arrived at the last 20 minutes or so of Casino Royale, completely absorbed. We’re entering spoiler territory here, and if you’re unfamiliar with the conclusion, I’d suggest checking it out now, with apologies for taking your time. For those who stay, I can’t promise it will get better. But hey, at least I’m not tearing up the end of the movie for you.
Still there ?
Then. In the last movement of the film, Daniel Craig’s Bond is very much in love with Eva Green’s Vesper. So much so that, just under two hours after achieving double-0 status, he decides to go all out and tour the world instead. One problem: he only has to give his opinion. Presumably his contract has something like at least two months’ notice with a bit of vacation accumulated to factor in. So, he turns on a laptop while he floats on his boat and sends the following …
Now I have a real soft spot for in-movie messaging screens. It’s often criticized in the movies that every keystroke or character appearing on a computer screen must have some noise or something, even though I haven’t owned one that has done this since the Sinclair Spectrum in. the 1980s.
Despite this, how do you make someone interesting by typing an email on a computer? To convey basic information the way you do? Damn, I’m sitting half-naked bashing this to get it ready in time, and rest assured it’s not an interesting sight.
The producers of films thus create computer software interfaces which generally do not resemble what we know – the years 1994 Disclosure is my favorite, where each arrival of an email is marked by the subtlety of a marching band passing by the disguised camera.
With Bond however, and Casino Royale in particular, it must at least be realistic. So the frills are rare and so we get the 007 email compose window. Note for anyone looking over Bond’s shoulder that there is a thoughtful confidential warning, which will absolutely send their attention elsewhere. .
Note that this is where Bond sends the email. Even in 2006, wireless satellite internet changed …
But then – and I offer my personal thanks to the production team – we stay on screen and see what Bond’s inbox looks like. And it got me thinking that at a time when we get origin story productions of a Scooby Doo character, there might be a whole spin-off hidden in that window. Looked…
I feel their pain here, should I say from the start.
If you put an email address or phone number in a movie, especially a Bond movie that won’t scare the eyes, there will be an idiot somewhere – thank you – who’ll give it a try. So, you can hardly put a mixture of real domain names in it. And as you can see, they didn’t.
Still, it gives us some extra backstory, and it would be a shame not to dig into it. It’s the bloody Internet after all.
The first one standing?
Interestingly, the day Bond made his decision to quit official, we see that he had already sent nine more emails, presumably on this boat as he sat next to Vesper. While floating, notice that he filed a stationery request (sic) there, as well as sent an untitled mail to Anne Bennett. I don’t know who she is either.
What was 007 doing then? I have a few working theories.
1. He was cut off from his job and therefore decided – before leaving – to take advantage of one of the benefits.
Those of us who have had jobs where the paycheck was not in line with how people should be treated may be familiar with the age-old tactic of getting fresh stationery in the closet right before we leave. work. This is exactly what 007 was doing. Some of those cute pens that you tend to get only when someone else has paid for them and a few notepads are bound to come in handy.
Given the history of this site, however, I will not make any case for the typo in the word “stationery”. The best advice someone taught me to do it right: e is for the envelope. Never forgotten since. Anyway, let’s get back to the matter at hand.
UPDATE: I am indebted to Mark Harrison for reminding me that in Quantum of comfort, Bond asks Gemma Arterton for stationery! The man is obsessed!
2. The messaging interface is designed to look ordinary and confuse people.
I’m giving MI6 the benefit of the doubt here, as it doesn’t look ordinary and it won’t throw anyone off the stage.
For starters, if you want to hide what a secret agent is doing, it seems odd to allow only one entry to M and MI6 HQ. The one with “resignation” in the header, was sitting among David Hicks talking about security and whoever JM Director is passing around one of those undoubtedly motivating management updates. Conclusion: it sticks out like a sore thumb. The rest, though, could all be code words for some really smart Q stuff or something, but I already undermined that argument by the time I got to this sentence.
3. It’s a subtle statement about the economics of concerts.
After all this time, here is irrefutable proof that James Bond in the modern age does not work at all for the UK government. Well, not directly anyway.
Instead, in an undoubtedly above-board bidding process where friends of politicians couldn’t get to the fore of the queue, the contract to oversee the double-0 program was contracted out to a company called The Net. Oh sure, Bond still works for M as an MI6 contact, but the name on his paycheck isn’t that of the government. No, MI6 followed the school catering model. Outsource work, lay off staff, get new business to rehire old staff with different employment rights. Modern leap, modern Britain.
4. He’s like my father who uses a computer.
Extremely intelligent man my father, but damn it, if his printer goes out, he regresses before my eyes. Now Bond has some tech skills – or at least knows a teenager who can do the job for him – as he hacks M’s account in Casino Royale (although in theory his webmail could be just as vulnerable if it was also outsourced). But still, the nature of some of these emails is superficial at best. Understandable. He prefers to drink Martinis and recover from having his slippers smashed by Le Chiffre.
5. Straw grab # 1
This mysterious company, “TheNet.com,” is a hat tip to a movie from a decade ago that perhaps also played a little liberal with the way email works.
6. Straw grab # 2
The domain name ‘TheNet.com’ was cheap. Although it has belonged to the same anonymous registrant since 1994 – Blofeld, is that you? – and his website currently looks like this …
7. Meanwhile, back to Earth
One last theory. Maybe this was all put together in the desperate hope that it wouldn’t inspire someone 15 years later to examine the screen and find 1400 words on it (inv enc). It’s all plausible, but if it does, I outwitted you, Mr. Bond.
Casino Royale is of course available in many different formats if you want to browse Bond’s inbox yourself. Just be careful if, a few days later, you receive a strange email from TheNet …
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