Website last updated: 19-11-2023

A Female Authority - The Golden Girls of GoldenEye

By: Nicolas Suszczyk
Pierce Brosnan GoldenEye
Exclusive article by our good man in Argentina, Nicolás Suszczyk, the man behind The GoldenEye Dossier, a website entirely dedicated to the 17th James Bond film GoldenEye (1995), starring Pierce Brosnan in his first adventure as Ian Fleming’s James Bond. 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the film.

A single scene in GoldenEye reflect how much times have changed: Miss Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) tells James Bond she’s hanging out with a gentleman and that his attitudes towards her can be considered as “sexual harassment”.

In following scenes his new superior lady will call him “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur” and another girl will shout at him: “Don’t stand there, get us out of here!” as a bomb is about to detonate on the train carriage.

The first Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan redefined the relationship of 007 and his many female counterparts. He wouldn’t stop his womanizing antics and throughout the 130 minutes the film lasts, Bond makes close contact with three girls, but this time they wouldn’t be there just to please him or seek his mighty protection.

Nine years after the fateful mission that killed his friend, agent 006 (Sean Bean), in the USSR, the secret agent is driving his Aston Martin DB5 through the Corniche in Monaco. Next to him, there’s a young lady: Caroline (Serena Gordon), a therapist sent by MI6 to evaluate him. Soon, another young lady appears: Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), driving a red Ferrari 355.

“The next girl”, he tells a worried Caroline as he speeds up and starts chasing her. As Bond takes the risky situation with amusement, Xenia will push him to the limit and a now angry Caroline will yell him to “stop the car at once”. It will take a chilled bottle of Bollinger ’88 to comfort her and, shortly later, seduce her: “I have no problem with a female authority”, he says as he kisses Caroline.

Female. Authority. Two words that couldn’t fit together in the times of Sean Connery or Roger Moore, when 007 even slapped ladies or it took just a wink to make her fall for him. Not even Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), the heroic KGB counterpart of The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), can accomplish her promise of shooting Bond, the author of her late boyfriend’s death, and falls for his charms.

While Timothy Dalton’s 007 had strong Bond girls capable of pulling guns and riding horses into action, he was still able to overpower them, and their immunity didn’t last long. Still, both The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989) offered a more realistic approach of Bond and his girls, diminishing the hero’s macho attitudes towards them.

The Bond girls of GoldenEye have personality.

Swedish actress Izabella Scorupco plays Natalya Simonova, a level two satellite programmer. Witness and survivor to the attack perpetuated by General Ourumov (Gottfried John) over the Severnaya Control Centre, her life is in great danger. She has, for the first time for a woman in the series, a sole major action scene as she avoids the explosions caused by the EMP blast Ourumov fired.

Izabella Scorupco GoldenEye
Bond has his first encounter with Natalya shortly after they both survive a deathtrap set by the treacherous Janus, who nine years before was Alec Trevelyan, agent 006, “killed” in action. Right from the beginning, she doesn’t trust him. “I’m on your side, I’m here to help you”, comforts Bond in vain. Eventually, they both join forces to thwart Trevelyan’s plan.

Before Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in Casino Royale (2006) and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) in the upcoming SPECTRE (2015), Natalya Simonova was the first girl to question Bond’s lifestyle and proceedings.

“It was your friend, Trevelyan? And now he’s your enemy and you’ll have to kill him. Is that simple?” she complains as the sun sets on the Cuban beach they’re both relaxing. “You think I’m impressed? With your guns, your killing, your death… for what? So you can be a hero?!”

Bond had girls who hated him, girls who loved him, and girls who loved and hated him at the same time, but never before someone who delves deep into his persona to evaluate the nature of his job. The closest one was Maud Adams playing the title role in Octopussy (1983) calling him an “underpaid assassin”, yet that scene lacks the emotional deep of this scene in GoldenEye. An emotional depth enhanced by Eric Serra’s music and Phil Méheux cinematography.

Scribes Michael France, Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Feirstein built in Natalya an innocent yet modern, strong and smart female counterpart for a new Bond era. In this scene, a fragment of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel from 1959, Goldfinger, where 007 reflects on having to kill people in the line of duty, makes a discreet way to the big screen in Natalya’s words: “That’s what keeps you alone”.

In the midst of the popularity of modern technologies, Natalya’s programming knowledge is vital to bring down the GoldenEye satellite aimed on London to take Britain “back to the Stone Age” and fulfil Janus’ revenge plan, making her more than just a helpless victim or a reliable heroine.

Xenia Onatopp, the former Soviet fight pilot played by Famke Janssen, now works for Janus and uses her body as a deathly weapon: she kills men during love making by crushing them with her tights, hence her surname, given by screenwriter Bruce Feirstein. This gave GoldenEye the distinction of having the first explicit lovemaking scene in 33 years of Bond films, setting once again the tone with the new times.

Famke Janssen GoldenEye
Unlike Natalya, Xenia isn’t a complex character, but she adds the necessary mix of beauty and evil that vixens like Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) or May Day (Grace Jones) had before her. She is still one step ahead of them by the orgasmic sounds she makes as she machine-guns down the Severnaya technicians or terminates their victims in her unique way: something modified as writers Caine and Feirstein were brought to the project, since in France’s 1994 draft she simply assassinated people by causing them a stroke on a pressure point above their heart.

For the first time in the series, Bond’s superior M was played by a woman: Dame Judi Dench. The decision to turn Admiral Messervy into an accountant taking the lead of the British Secret Service was taken by Martin Campbell, considering perhaps that during that decade Stella Rimmington was the head of the real MI5.

“You don’t like me Bond, you don’t like my methods,” she coldly tells her spy, whom she baptized “a relic of Cold War”. The script itself jokes, intentionally, with this weird change of having Bond under the orders of a lady as a funny gag takes place shortly before the briefing scene, when Tanner (Michael Kitchen) calls her “the Evil Queen of Numbers” without noticing her presence.

A female M was a hazardous move since the production was aware they needed the right actress for the role, or it could look goofy. The effective casting of Dench in the role would provide an evolution of the Bond-M relationship as the actress returned for the following six 007 films, getting more screen time and making her character a crucial part in the plot of her swan-song film Skyfall (2012), starring Daniel Craig as James Bond.

By Nicolás Suszczyk © 2015 From Sweden with Love

All photos © Joel Villy. All rights reserved.

Editor's note:
Sincere thanks to Nicolás for his contribution to the From Sweden with Love website.

For other posts featuring Izabella Scorupco on From Sweden with Love, click here.



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Bond 25 Bond girls Bond villains Britt Ekland Daniel Craig Dolph Lundgren George Lazenby Izabella Scorupco James Bond museum Kristina Wayborn Mary Stavin Maud Adams No Time To Die Ola Rapace Pierce Brosnan Roger Moore Sean Connery Spectre Timothy Dalton

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