Dear Friends,

And so, finally, it has arrived in our cinemas. 2021’s very own blockbuster release. Daniel Craig’s swansong as James Bond in ‘No Time to Die’. Craig, the latest in a ‘relatively’ long line of actors who have graced the role. Beginning with Sean Connery, followed by David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton & Pierce Brosnan. Then Daniel Craig. Although a little-known fact (at least to me) was that the very first person to play James Bond was a certain Barry Nelson who starred in a TV presentation of ‘Casino Royale’ as far back as 1954. With Craig having already indicated that this would be his last outing as Bond, speculation is already turning to who might next be cast in the role. One thing is for sure, it won’t be me! Commander Bond was the creation of the author, Ian Fleming. In an interview given to the New Yorker magazine, he explained that ‘…When I wrote the first one [novel] in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument … when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, [James Bond] is the dullest name I ever heard…’ The ‘fact’ that Bond was a ‘fictional’ character gave great scope to the screen writers. With no actual historical person to ‘bench mark’ their scripts against, they could let their imagination run wild in conjuring up their impression of who he ‘really’ was. The result being that over 60 years we have a very wide range of performances with each actor investing their ‘own’ personality in their particular interpretation. For what its worth, my favourite Bond was Roger Moore…Anyway, what do the following actors have in common – Jeffery Hunter, Jim Caviezel, Christian Bale, William Defoe, Robert Powell – they are among the many who have portrayed Jesus Christ on screen. Jesus is acknowledged to have ‘really’ lived. Even those who would not subscribe to the theological dimension that the Christian faith attributes to Him would not deny that there was a man named Jesus who at least loosely fitted the description given in the New Testament. But then again, it is as if the compilers of the New Testament set out to ensure a degree of ‘creative ambiguity’ as far as Jesus is concerned by including four separate, although inter related and overlapping accounts of His life. Add in 2,000 years of ecclesiastical, philosophical, theological, literary, artistic, and devotional engagement with Him and it is no wonder that when it came to His being represented in the cinema and on TV, again we have a wide spectrum of interpretive presentations. Interestingly, the more powerful performances have been given by otherwise unknown actors rather than the ‘big names’ mentioned above. For instance, look out for Enrique Irazoqui in Pasolini’s, ‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew.’ The truth is, Scripture invites us to engage with the person of Jesus in as innovative way as we might choose. To paraphrase the end of John’s account of Jesus’ life, ‘…There is so much more to Jesus. If everything about Him was to be recorded in detail, I suppose the world could not hold the books etc. that would be produced about Him…’As Bonhoeffer mused, ‘Who is Jesus Christ for today?’

No Time to Die