Sunday, 1 November 2015

Ian Fleming's voodoo spectre

Halloween was the perfect night to take in Spectre. James Bond always makes a good watch this time of year. He's the closest thing we British have to a Voodoo Loa spirit.

Bond personifies an idea of British power and prestige that is long dead - but the lure of his Church endures. Generations of Priests, from Hamilton to Mendes, summon him again and again, outfitting him with the potent symbols of tux, car and watch. Like a good congregation we assemble in the dark cinema space, hypnotised by his convulsions, his theatre of fire and blood - however absurd and superstitious it may seem in the light of day, however gruelling the 140 minute ritual may be.

As a spirit, there seems no way to kill Bond. Austin Powers weakened him, briefly, by making a joke of his myth - but Bond simply took possession of a new body and rose again, relying more than ever on the compelling power of his sacred songs, dances and modes of service. There are countless "just shoot him" moments in Spectre, but Bond's congregation don't care. These traditions are part of the rite. Villains no longer even require a plan; they are a symbol, part of the service, to be banished by the Bond Loa to the realm of the dead.

Bond's is a vain, violent, trickster spirit, yet his appeal only grows. His mysteries withstand reality, making him our very own island cult, as powerful and notorious as Haiti's.

Can his spirit ever be crushed? Perhaps some misguided future Priest will attempt to change his rites, and break the spell. Maybe his altars will become so obscured by merchandise that the spirit is forgotten, snuffed out.

Perhaps only Baron Samedi can say for sure. He certainly had a good laugh on that train...

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