This year marks the centennial birth of James Bond creator Ian Fleming and to celebrate, the Imperial War Museum in London devoted an entire exhibit to the man who made the world’s most famous secret agent come alive.
While we were in England a few weeks ago on our Quantum of Solace adventure, Columbia Pictures took us to the “For Your Eyes Only” exhibit to get a more detailed look at the author’s life.
In addition to showing where the creator of 007 got his creative inspirations from, the museum gives people a better understanding about all different aspects of his life. So while there is a lot of James Bond memorabilia–like a blood-splattered shirt Daniel Craig wore in Casino Royale and prototypes of Rosa Klebb’s knife shoes in From Russia in Love–there are also a lot of personal items that offer a more intimate look at who Fleming really was.
As we walked into the exhibit, an old Fleming radio interview played and the first thing we saw in the dimly lit room was a black tuxedo on a Mannequin holding a cigarette, a blue jacket hanging on the back of the wall in the glass case and an old typewriter. A quote from Fleming was posted underneath the display. “He always wore dark blues and black and white colours that betray an underlying melancholy.”
In the same room, a portrait of Fleming’s grandfather Robert Fleming hung on the wall with a family photo album underneath. The light brown desk and chair, where the author wrote all of the Bond novels from his Jamaican home, was also there and on the desk was a picture of his wife and a check list of “Birds of the West Indies,” a book by James Bond.
Other rare materials on display included: a map of the Mercury News Network established by Fleming in the 1950s (showing where the Sunday Times foreign correspondents were based), annotated Bond scripts, and a jacket worn by the writer on the Dieppe Raid of 1942.
In the next room, quotes from Fleming were painted on the walls.
“I was in the process of getting married so to take my mind off the whole business, I sat down and wrote a novel.”
“I’m going to write the spy story to end all spy stories.”
“My job got me right to the heart of things.”
There was also a roulette-shaped table and inside the enclosed glass cover was a black and white photo of James Bond commissioned by Fleming in 1957. There were letters from his secretary to Playboy magazine describing Bond’s appearance and a copy of “Russia with Love” inscribed to William ‘Bill’ Stephenson, the British intelligence chief in North America during WWII.
At the end of the table we found a computerized roulette wheel, which spun upon touching it. It called out a number and then gave you a Bond trivia question to answer such as, “Was he the inspiration for James Bond?” referring to a picture of Peter Fleming, Ian’s brother, who popped up on the screen.
“For Your Eyes Only” shows how Fleming drew from his wartime experiences, which not only created many of the Bond plots, but inspired several of the infamous heroes and villains such as M and Goldfinger.
A few other cool things that we saw included the bikini Halle Berry rocked in Die Another Day, Goldfinger’s golf shoes, Fleming’s 1st edition novels such as “Casino Royale,” “Dr. No,” “Thunderball” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” and From Russia with Love movie posters.
The “For Your Eyes Only” Ian Fleming and James Bond exhibit will run at the Imperial War Museum through March 1, 2009.
In addition to visiting the exhibit, we also got a chance to talk to Lucy Fleming, the author’s niece who has helped plan various events that are taking place throughout the year to celebrate his contributions and life, including his great accomplishments as a writer and his vital role as a Lieutenant Commander in Naval Intelligence. We met Lucy at Brown’s Hotel in London for tea and she talked to us about her famous uncle:
Q: You’ve said before the media has capitalized more on the sensational parts of your uncle’s life. What would you like the public to know about him that you feel journalists don’t report on?
Q: What’s your favorite memory of him?
Q: So that’s why cool cars and gadgets are always in the Bond movies.
Q: What was one of his favorite gadgets from the war that made it into the books?
Q: Are you surprised that after all these years, Bond is still such a huge icon?
Q: Did he really go to some of these locations?
Q: Why would people think that?
Q: Did he tell you about his traveling adventures?
Q: How much of his own personality did he put into the character?
Q: What do you think about Daniel Craig as Bond?
For more info on the upcoming Ian Fleming events you can check out IanFlemingCentenary.com. We’ve also added a third TV spot and two new clips from Quantum of Solace which you can watch via this link!