The Job We Were Chosen For
21st January 2015
Guest writer Nicolas Suszczyk explores the relationship between 006 and 007 in 'GoldenEye''
One of the most interesting 'GoldenEye' locations is the statue park in St Petersburg, where James Bond faces-off the enigmatic leader of the Janus organization: Alec Trevelyan, once his former teammate and friend, agent 006.
Trevelyan is also one of the most interesting villains form the series: the first one to deliberately aim at Bond's weaknesses: with his then executioner and now ally General Ourumov holding Natalya as a hostage, he forces him to pick between "the girl or the mission". Just like all the 'GoldenEye' promotions announced, he's "the man who knows him better."
And the place chosen for the encounter between these two men was, in fact, based on a real park in Moscow, where the citizens hauled the statues of the communist leaders from the streets and dropped them in 1991, right after the fall of the Soviet Union. But it was thanks to the eye of production designer Peter Lamont and the chiaroscuro techniques of cinematographer Phil Meheux that the fictional wasteland created for the film had a perfect dramatic setting for the exchange 007 has with his former friend - now his enemy.
"Did you ever ask yourself why we toppled all those dictators and regimes? Only to come home: 'Well done, good job, but sorry, old boy, everything you risked your life and limb for has changed'", says Alec aloud in the deathly silence of this cold place, where two men are challenging each other.
"It was the job we were chosen for," replies Bond bringing back his loyalty to the cause, to the mission, to England. Alec claims another kind of loyalty: the loyalty towards a friend, but he knows James Bond will always be faithful to the job in hand.
"Her Majesty's loyal terrier", he jokingly mocks.
Bond and Alec are meeting for the first time in nine years. A decade where the world changed: leaders and regimes fell, new technologies appeared, values vanished... and these two men changed sides, from friends to enemies. Those changes are seen in their words, in their new values, in the broken soviet icons around them. Everything changed. The only one who didn't is Bond.
"Still working for MI6 or have you joined the 21st century?" asked Valentin Zukovsky --former rival, now an ally-- shortly before this encounter. 007's ethics and loyalty seem old fashioned to the eyes of the new world order, where free market economy and mercantilism seem to take the lead.
John Gardner's 'GoldenEye' novelization, published the same year of the movie, features an expanded dialogue between Bond and Alec, where the latter explains his views in a deeper, more philosophical way: "Trust has disappeared, gone, dropped out of the dictionary (...) It's all money. We're stuck in the slough of despond which goes under a new name: free market morality. It's a morality where your friends come and go as quickly as the next bus in Regent Street or Fifth Avenue".
But Trevelyan has another purpose beyond money: revenge. His parents were repatriated Lienz Cossacks who survived Stalin's execution squads and committed suicide after being betrayed by the British in 1945, a fate he compares to Bond's parents, who had "the luxury" of dying on a climbing accident - fact taken from the pages of Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice and resurfaced later in Skyfall when we get to see the grave of Andrew Bond and Monique Delacroix.
Many subjects are dealt in this conversation: loyalty and treason, money and faith, past and present.... And these two men are a perfect incarnation of these opposing subjects as they face each other off after nine years.
"How did MI6's screening miss that your parents were Lienz Cossacks?" asks Bond.
"Once again your faith is misplaced, James. They knew," Trevelyan replies.
Just like Javier Bardem's Silva would do 17 years later in 'Skyfall', Alec tries to take Bond out of his blind trust and loyalty to the Secret Service. Faith is misplaced and old-fashioned to his eyes, where England is responsible for all the things he went through: the death of his parents and his accident during the Arkhangelsk mission back in 1986, when he was MI6 agent 006. Half of his face has been burned since the day Bond's loyalty to the cause made him set the explosives for three minutes instead of six. Trevelyan is now Janus, the Roman god with the two faces. "It wasn't God who gave me this face. It was you," he accuses. "007's loyalty is always to the mission, never to his friends."
The job we were chosen for, and the job Trevelyan chooses for himself. Loyalty and revenge. This moment sets the beginning of another challenge for Bond that goes beyond the job in hand. As the movie keeps going, both men keep fighting each other from the streets of St Petersburg to the platform of a giant antenna in Cuba.
In the death of night, Bond is hit by a sleeping dart on his neck. As he falls unconscious to the floor, Alec slowly approaches and ironically says the same phrase that nine years ago brought them together, when they were chosen for the job: "For England, James".