Before 'Skyfall': 46 years of violence in James Bond movies

Dec 10, 2012

Violent acts in James Bond films were more than twice as common in Quantum of Solace (2008) than in the original 1962 movie Dr No, researchers from New Zealand's University of Otago have found.

The researchers analysed 22 official franchise films, which span 46 years, to test the that popular movies are becoming more violent (The latest Bond film, Skyfall, was not included as it was unreleased at the time of the study).

They found that rates of increased significantly over the period studied and there was an even bigger increase in portrayals of severe violence: acts that would be likely to cause death or injury if they occurred in real life.

While Dr No only featured 109 trivial or severely violent acts, there were 250 violent acts in Quantum of Solace. The latter film featured nearly three times as many acts of severe violence.

In counting and classifying violent imagery in the films the researchers used a scheme modified from a US 1997 National Television Violence Study. Violent acts were defined as attempts by any individual to harm another and classified as severe (such as punching, kicking, or attacks with ) or trivial violence (such as a push or an open-handed slap).

The research is newly published online in the US journal Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

Study co-author Associate Professor Bob Hancox of the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine says that as these popular films have no age-restriction and will be seen by many children and adolescents, their increasingly violent nature is concerning.

"There is extensive research evidence suggesting that young people's viewing of media violence can contribute to desensitisation to violence and aggressive behaviour," Associate Professor Hancox says.

The increase in violent content of Bond movies likely reflects a general increase in the exposure of young people to media violence through similarly rated popular , he says.

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More information: "Bond, James Bond: A Review of 46 Years of Violence in Films"
Authors: Helena M. McAnally (Department of Psychology, University of Otago), Lindsay A. Robertson (Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago), Victor C. Strasburger (University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque) and Robert J. Hancox (Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago)
doi:10.1001 /jamapediatrics.2013.437

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gwrede
1 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2012
While Dr No only featured 109 trivial or severely violent acts, there were 250 violent acts in Quantum of Solace. The latter film featured nearly three times as many acts of severe violence.
If this kind of math is already in the third paragraph, then how dare the Regents of this Otago University ever expect any respect from the literate audience of PhysOrg??
julianpenrod
3 / 5 (2) Dec 10, 2012
A crucial point to make here. Note that the assessment of the character of movies described depends solely on violence. Measurements of aggressiveness, hostility, acts of brutality, and so on. Concurrent with the rise in violence, and likely a precursor, is the decrease in genuine personality and depth in characters and conversation. Today, drama is yelling, romance is sex, adventure is explosions. Where, before, characters might engage in a contest of wills over subtleties of principle, now, it's just one trying to kill the other! Shills can be seen often mocking this observation, implying that anything that is later in time is automatcally more advanced and, therefore, better, so, say, "Friday the 13th Part III" must be a finer piece than, say, "Stella Dallas". And it should be remembered, this is crucial because, if so many, if not most, in the population are of lesser quality as people, how much can they be relied upon to legitimately observe and measure their decay?
gwrede
not rated yet Dec 10, 2012
"There is extensive research evidence suggesting that young people's viewing of media violence can contribute to desensitization to violence and aggressive behavior," Associate Professor Hancox says.
I'm not sure we need this "extensive evidence". All we need is to ask anybody who is more than 40 years old.

In the old days (the 60's) we watched episodes of Lost in Space, with Dr. Smith's dishonesty and various threats to the Robinson family either by aliens or geological upheavals. In my country (Finland) some of the episodes were rated at 16, 18, or even 21 years. -- Today, we regularly see stiffer stuff than this in after-preschool programming on TV.

I've shown some of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns, which used to be considered "extremely violent" to my early teen kids, and they just yawned.

----

Now, to the real question: is this progress, or are we on the wrong course??
tatiana_covington_7
3 / 5 (2) Dec 10, 2012
You should see all the violence in the Bible and Shakespeare. And Dostoevsky. Violence is part of life. It is natural.
barakn
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 10, 2012
While Dr No only featured 109 trivial or severely violent acts, there were 250 violent acts in Quantum of Solace. The latter film featured nearly three times as many acts of severe violence.
If this kind of math is already in the third paragraph, then how dare the Regents of this Otago University ever expect any respect from the literate audience of PhysOrg??
How literate can you be when you didn't notice that one set of numbers referred to trivial OR severely violent acts whereas the other referred to severely violent only?
dav_daddy
3 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2012
That is not a fair comparison in any sense of the word. The first Bond film was done on a shoestring budget with little to no special effects. (Can you call a midget with a smoke canister in the trunk of a car who nearly asphyxiates himself while making smoke screen a special effect?)

They had to buy the freaking Aston Martin they used in the film out of pocket for crying out loud! That eliminates a whole segment of potential violence that surrounds the destroying of Bonds car. (Another fine tradition of the Bond films.)

I'd love to see the actual numbers on this, if you took the 2nd-4th films and compared them with the last three I bet the numbers are much more in line. Also it would be interesting to see the spike in the 80's with the Timothy Dalton Bond films.
peter09
not rated yet Dec 11, 2012
Violence doesn't require a good script.

I am reminded of the old term 'clap trap' an example of which is the magician saying ' here is my lovely assistant (name)' and posing in such away as to show an expectation of applause. The audience dutifully claps.

Violence and comedians swearing, in my opinion, are the modern equivalents.