Born on the Brink: The Birth of James Bond and the Decline of the British Empire

Artistic Licence Renewed

Words by Benjamin Welton

circa 1946:  The Victory Day Parade in London, which was marred by the rain.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images) circa 1946: The Victory Day Parade in London, which was marred by the rain. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Ever since Casino Royale first saw publication in 1953, commentators have noted that James Bond began his rise just as the sun was setting on the British Empire. Indeed, worldwide interest in British culture, especially the more garish, almost pulpy elements, found greater appreciation at the same time as Great Britain began its quick descent into second-tier power status. In West Germany, a new film style – the Krimi – began to exploit the fog-shrouded environs of rural Britain for the cause of making slightly tongue-in-cheek, but thoroughly stylish mystery films that were directly inspired by Edgar Wallace, a once revered crime writer of the 1920s and 1930s who was undoubtably an early influence on Ian Fleming.

In Japan, the typically working class street cultures of Great…

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