The James Bond series has crafted itself as a genre all of its own. Conventions and an original formula are present throughout all twenty films, the messages and values that have changed little, if only with time and social attitudes, this being because all of the films are contemporary. Bond always lives in the present time, when the films are made and this is shown through the wider context of each film and also by the institutions responsible for the production. The formula has made the Bond series very successful and within ‘The World Is Not Enough’ the producers have applied this formula again to great effect. (Arroyo/Goodman/Chapman),
The three key institutions involved in the production of ‘The World Is Not Enough’ are MGM, United Artists and Eon Productions all of which have been involved from the very beginning of the series. It is important to note that these companies are all western institutions (MGM, UA from the US, Eon a British company) and the western ideology present in the films, especially in ‘The World Is Not Enough’ where the west’s need for oil is clearly a direct influence from these western institutions (IMDB). By western ideologies, I mean the West Vs East (Good Vs Evil), consumerism, democracy, and capitalism as well as others. It has been said before that consumerism is the driving force behind the popularity of Bond as a character. The audience do not root for Bond because of what he fights for (sometimes its hard to understand what/who he is fighting for) like Americans root for John Wayne because he believed in the American way. We (the audience) like Bond because of that he wears, his sophistication and the champagne he drinks. Audiences relate to Bond’s style in an aspirational way.
MGM and United Artists are big, well established Hollywood companies so we can draw conclusions that the text is going to have very high production values (as well as lots of stunts, action and special effects), a large audience to generate the maximum amount of revenue possible, and will have a large budget to accommodate these factors. The action sequences in the text make it worth watching alone (Arroyo). Large studio’s can also command the biggest stars (Pierce Brosnan, Robert Carlyle and Halle Berry in the latest film ‘Die Another Day’) making high concept movies to appeal and entertain the audience. As a general rule, a small independent production company would not be able to make a high concept film as effectively, if at all.
United Artists was founded by some of Hollywood’s greatest actors during the studio system days and to this day the company still strongly believes in “nurturing creativity”. These values are visible throughout the production of the film, creating an original plot (maybe overcomplicated) and action sequences that keep the audience entertained, as do the various one liners from Pierce Brosnan (such classics as – “I thought Christmas only came once a year”). The creativity on display within the James Bond films can be questioned though, the rigid formula and production makes the films almost “director proof”, to be honest, that doesn’t sound too creative. (Arroyo).
One of the main reasons the Bond films have been so successful is that the films adapt very aptly to social attitudes, geopolitics, technological change and the world economy. As an example in the very first Bond films the leading females where usually weaker characters that were used by Bond whereas in the more contemporary films such as The World Is Not Enough, Bond needs the female leads such as Christmas Jones to help him complete his mission. This fits into the changing social attitude of equality between men and women and no sexism. (Chapman).
Current social attitudes and fears are represented in the film; society fears the international terrorist and nuclear warfare, both of these elements play pivotal roles in the narrative and serve the plot of ‘The World Is Not Enough’. Frank Furedi writes that “Safety has become one of Western society’s fundamental values”, clearly enough in the text our leading man is upholding this very value. Perhaps this element of realism in an otherwise comic book fairytale makes the text appeal to audiences more, it poses the question; “could a terrorist cut off our oil supplies?”
In an article from the Guardian online, George Monbiot addresses the very idea, “Terrorists, alert to both the west’s rising need and the vulnerability of the pipeline and tanker networks, will respond with their own oil wars.” This quote almost sounds like part of the plot from the text itself, it proves how the film conveys the issues and threats of the time, and appreciates our future need of oil.
It can be said that ‘The World Is Not Enough’ has tapped into the fears of western society and the politics or need for oil, and has constructed a storyline from them to produce a very formulaic film, with a chillingly hard hitting, if somewhat overcomplicated plot.