“Everything I write has precedent in truth.” -Ian Flemming
Upon first viewing, I was not initially impressed with Quantum of Solace. I took it as a mediocre Bond film with scant hints of deeper meanings and clues. Recently, I watched it again and it changed my mind. Not only is it chock full of subtle hints and clues, it actually appears to display a kind of alchemical process. While that might sound far-fetched, allow me to prove my thesis. First, take into account the fact that Ian Flemming would very much have been enamored with just such an idea, given the occultic-secret milieu he inhabited. In fact, Flemming had direct associations with Aleister Crowley, and based some of his characters such as LeChiffre on him. Times Online writer Ben Macintyre explains in his review of a Flemming biography:
“Fleming’s villains, like his heroes, are patchworks of different people, names and traits. Le Chiffre, the Benzedrine-sniffing villain of Casino Royale, is believed to be based on Aleister Crowley, who gained notoriety in inter-war Britain as “the Wickedest Man in the World”. Crowley was a bisexual, sado-masochistic drug addict. A master of Thelemic mysticism (“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”), he specialised in mountaineering, interpreting the Ouija board, orgies and thrashing his lovers. The press simultaneously adored and hated him. Crowley made Le Chiffre seem positively sane.”
Crowley also was an asset for a time for British intelligence. Thus we see that alchemy coming into play shouldn’t seem strange. In fact, the original 007, Dr. John Dee, was Queen Elizabth’s “seer” and was himself an alchemist. As Flemming is known to have said: “Everything I write has precedent in truth.” As with all Bond films, there is the famous artsy intro, and often they too are a clue to the kind of esoterism we can expect to see in the film. This one begins with sand and silhouettes, ending with an eye and a “swastika” formation. While you might be incredulous at first, hang with me, as swastikas pop up several times in this film, and for a reason. Towards the end we see the leggy swastika morph into an eye (which will be relevant later on).
Both eyes and swastikas are prevalent in this film, as well as alchemy, so let’s analyze. As with most modern films, Carl Jung’s archetypes and gnostic proclivities come to the fore. Originally, the swastika symbol dates back to the most ancient cultures such as India and Mesopotamia as a “sun wheel,” of the so-called Bronze Age, with possibly some relevance to solstices and equinoxes. Carl Jung had a lifelong fascination with the symbol, and gave it some possible association as an archetypal symbol in the collective unconscious. So we begin with four women at the four cardinal points, which bring to mind the four elements, as well as images of sand or earth: all of which pertain to alchemy. Alchemy is the classical and medieval “art” of transformation, and the end goal of the alchemists was the “Great Work,” whereby all things are brought to perfection and harmony (or solace), under the provident gaze of the “all seeing eye.” The “eye,” brings to mind the perennial symbology of secret societies as well as intelligence agencies and groups, such as MI5/6 and DARPA, who sit atop our panopticon surveillance society. Continue reading