For most the holiday means gifts, family, and travel. What often goes overlooked are the movies. As an avid Oscar watcher, The Holidays is also a key time for films vying for some critical acclaim and year-end buzz with Awards season quickly following the New Year. For one film franchise, it’s already been a great year. James Bond celebrated 50 years in film in 2012 and the latest Bond movie, Skyfall, racked up another $7M at the Box Office this past weekend bringing the total gross to $272M. Also celebrating an anniversary this year is the International Spy Museum in Chinatown which first opened 10 years ago. A new exhibit entitled, “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains” celebrates Bond through a unique lens: the bad guys that have tried to kill him.
Recently I had a chance to re-aquatint myself with the Spy Museum and the new Bond exhibit. The Exquisitely Evil feature is included in the cost of a General Admission ticket so not only is it a great chance to dive into some Bond history, but it’s also a great chance to take a stroll through one of my favorite DC attractions. The exhibit is a complete history of the silver screen’s most famous spy and the men he’s gone up against. Thanks to a partnership with Eon Productions, the film production company that produces the James Bond film series, the exhibit features over 100 film artifacts and props from all 23 films. Everything from Goldfinger’s golf shoes to Jaws’ steel teeth to Silva’s laptop from Skyfall can seen. Also in the mix are video featurettes and opportunities for visitors to put themselves in Bond’s shoes through some specially designed interactive challenges but I think the comprehensive collection of props is the true highlight of the exhibit. Having seen Skyfall this past Thanksgiving, I was delighted to get up close to the costumes and props used in the film’s main nemesis Silva.
The showcase is not only a timeline of Bond enemies but also an interesting walk through some of the key global concerns throughout the years.
“I think they have been very careful, EON Productions- the people who do the series, to keep the Villians that Bond is up against evolving through time,” Spy Museum Executive Director Peter Earnest told me over the phone, “I think they have gone to a great extent to capture the anxiety the public has whether it is about nuclear proliferation or terrorists or genocide in certain cases I think they have gone to great extent to incorporate that in the films through the villains.”
Bond villains encompass a wide-reaching spectrum from the Cold War dictators to evil corporate minds to New World terrorists. However they all have one thing in common: they are all within the crosshairs of 007. Their schemes maybe nefarious but they are a necessary part of any James Bond film.
“If there were no villains, there would be no Bond.”
Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains is on display at the International Spy Museum, located at 800 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004. Closest Metro stop: Chinatown/Gallery Place (Red/Yellow/Green lines). For more information visit their website.