Skyfall at 10: How James Bond Helped Me Learn to Live with Loss

The film, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is all about mothers and sons

Skyfall James Bond M Death
Skyfall (MGM), illustration by Steven Fiche

    Ten years ago this month, the James Bond franchise threw a 50th-anniversary party for itself in the form of 2012’s Skyfall. As was my ritual since 1997, I was there on opening day in a packed theater, and watching the film was a pretty dope time. But I felt funny when it ended, which is probably why I uttered the words I never thought I’d say in a million years, when I walked to my car that cold November night:

    “Oh, fuck you, James Bond.”

    At that point, I had seen five new Bond flicks in the theater and, for every single one of them, I normally felt some type of jubilation in my stomach when the credits rolled. Even after Die Another Day, a movie that’s aged worse than warm milk, the initial feeling was positive. It was a new James Bond movie, so what’s not to like?

    Skyfall was different. Skyfall put me on the defensive because I wasn’t ready for it. Yeah, there are bullets, women, weapons, and wanton destruction as per usual, but when you strip the movie down to its essentials, much like the movie does of its lead character, it’s all about a guy losing his mom.


    Bond finds himself in a situation where the world is crumbling down around him and he’s trying to find his place in it as it dissolves. At his side is his surrogate mother, M (Judi Dench), the woman who looks after him and who enables him to do what he needs to do. His emotional state for that movie reflected mine at that time: Lost, angry at the world, ready to go to an island just to get away from it all to “lend perspective” to everything.

    I was an angry dude but hid it well, which is probably why Daniel Craig’s Bond resonates so much with me. As a character, Bond always concealed his pain well and a few movies touch on his excessive drinking possibly being a form of self-medication. However, Craig’s Bond shows that pain.

    Skyfall is pretty blunt in its assessment of the guy, indicating he’s only held together by “booze and pills.” But, whenever the pain comes out to play, he tucks it back in because he’s got a job to do. There’s a certain type of pain that cuts deep, and anyone familiar with it knows it’s worse than a scrapped knee or a broken limb. No matter what you do to fix it or how many times you try, it feels like there aren’t enough Band-Aids in the world to stop the bleeding.


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