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It’s a bloody big ship

The Pride of Britain Awards, 1. an event celebrating the ordinary Toms, Dicks and Harrys of Britain. 2. The latest Bond film, Skyfall

The London landmarks, the Union Jacks, the Scottish Highlands, Churchill’s underground bunker, M’s china Bulldog, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the Aston Martin DB5; Skyfall is a far greater showcase of the pride of Britain than any patronising awards ceremony.

And, there’s the moment where Bond meets the new, fresh-faced Q in the National Gallery to discuss a J.M.W. Turner masterpiece.

Q remarks that it is a “grand old warship being ignominiously hauled away for scrap. The inevitability of time, don’t you think?”

Bond replies, “It’s a bloody big ship”.

The painting is The Fighting Temeraire.

The HMS Temeraire was a 98-gun warship, which in 1805, took two French ships and defended Nelson’s HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Just over thirty years later, in the face of increasing technological advances, the ship was deemed redundant and decommissioned. Turner here depicts a ghostlike Temeraire on its final voyage, being towed by a modern, steam-powered tug, down the length of the Thames to be broken-up.

A few metaphors for us there, and the literal setting sun in the painting, which was thought to be just like the setting sun on British naval power. Tradition gives way to modernisation; age handing on the baton to youth – as the young Q points out to the ageing Bond; the inevitability of time.

Powerful stuff. Someone knows their art history in the Skyfall production team.

By Edward Lines

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