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Licence revoked for tobacco as cigarettes will be digitally removed from James Bond films

01-Apr-2024 • Bond News

In recent months there have been moves to update James Bond to modern social standards, or to give advice to younger audiences who may not have cultural context to adventures penned or filmed over 60 years ago. More are on the way.

Ian Fleming Publications recently took the bold move to update the language used in the original James Bond novels to remove a number of racist references. In January, the British Film Institute posted warnings ahead of screenings of Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, and On Her Majesty's Secret Service, stating "many of these films contain language, images or other content that reflect views prevalent in its time, but will cause offence today."

Another move to update 007 has been revealed today, and it may have some fans so angry smoke comes out of their ears, but not into their lungs.

MI6 understands that an upcoming 4K Bluray remaster of the films will digitally remove cigarettes and cigars that were seen being smoked by James Bond.

Whilst some of this will be achieved by simple cuts, AI-based digital film restoration techniques will be used to remove the offending tobacco products from the hero's mouth. 

Above: The famous "Bond, James Bond" scene is one example where digital techniques will be used to remove his cigarette.

Warnings will also be seen at the beginning of each film and are likely to be similar to the one used in the end credits of 1989's Licence To Kill: "As tobacco products are used in this film, the Producers wish to remind the audience that smoking can cause lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy." 

Smoking will not be removed entirely though, for example, Largo in Thunderball and Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye will still be seen smoking cigarettes as they are on the side of villainy. 

The series has identified smoking as a negative trait as far back in 1967, when, faced by a secretive chest x-ray that revealed his Walther PPK, Mr. Osata turns to Bond and says "You should give up smoking. Cigarettes are very bad for your chest." Thirty years later, Pierce Brosnan was in the role and quipped "filthy habit" when knocking out a terrorist smoking a roll-up cigarette in the opening sequence of Tomorrow Never Dies. 

Speaking about the news to MI6, Shigatsu Baka, communications director for the Screen Without Nicotine Alliance said: "In our steadfast commitment to fostering a healthier society, we commend the recent decision to digitally remove cigarettes from James Bond films. This bold move not only preserves the timeless charm and suave sophistication of an iconic franchise but also aligns with our collective responsibility to promote positive and healthy lifestyle choices. By erasing cigarettes from these beloved narratives, we send a powerful message to audiences worldwide: heroism and allure do not require a smoke screen. We believe this pioneering step will inspire filmmakers and content creators to prioritize public health and well-being, ensuring that future generations can enjoy cinematic masterpieces without the spectre of tobacco's influence."


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