The Scottish actor was not only the best 007 ever, but an actor capable of making the character a slave to his interpreter, and not vice versa. And that after Bond, for thirty years, has shown that he can give charm and charisma to any role.
Do you expect me to speak?
No, I expect you to die!
This exchange between James Bond e Auric Goldfinger, the first tied to a table with a laser beam that starts to cut it in two starting from the groin, the second mockingly placed to observe the scene, is one of the most famous in the history of 007.
Goldfinger expected Bond to die, and he didn’t.
We, despite being 90 years of age, didn’t expect that Sean Connery – the best Bond ever, with all due respect to everyone else – he really would die.
With Sean Connery there is a piece of the cinephile formation of millions of people.
A magnificent James Bond leaves, ironic but with measure, rough and seductive at the same time. A Bond who, in the world full of too many hypocrisies that the politically correct has brought with it, would never have had space or success, and that for this reason has reinvented itself in order to keep up with the times.
Yet, however colonialist and male chauvinist he was, that Bond there, that of Connery, is still inimitable.
Inimitable thanks to him: he, who had the desire and the courage to step back and give the license to kill to someone else, to be able to dedicate himself to other roles, not to become a slave of Bond but by ensuring that Bond always remained a slave to his imprinting and his interpretation.
He wanted to free himself from a mask, from a character that was holding him tight and limiting him. He wanted to be Sean, not James. And it proved, film after film, that it was Sean, and not James, who ruled between the two.
Even before the final farewell (or almost) to 007, it turns Marnie con Hitchcock, The hill of dishonor e Rapina record a New York con Lumet, A splendid rogue con Kershner.
But that’s after A cascade of diamonds, his latest Bond movie of the official canon, which Connery frees himself completely and gives his best.
Then films like Zardoz at John Boorman, Reflected a dark mirror e Murder on the East Express again with Lumet, and above all The wind and the lion by John Milius e The man who wanted to be king by John Huston, in which he puts all his charisma at the service of the grandiose epic of those films and those directors, and then becomes the protagonist of the beautiful space thriller Zero atmosphere di Peter Hyams
Back as Bond in Never say never, where he made the 007 officer of the time, Roger Moore, eat the dust, Connery inaugurates in the eighties a new phase of his career: the one in which, flaunting a beard that is gradually more and more candid, and playing explicitly with the wigs he used since the first Bond film, he pushes hard on his being sly, old fox, incurable swagger and seducer, consummate interpreter.
These are the years of Highlander, of the Name of the rose, of Untouchable, of Indiana Jones and the last crusade, where he plays the role of Henry Jones Sr., Indiana’s dad.
Like many men, and like whiskey from the land he loved, and for which independence he has always fought for, Scotland, Connery it seemed to improve over the years. He aged, but he aged well. Very well.
He could have been the Russian commander deserter of a submarine as in Hunt for Red October, the King of England as in Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves, a doctor who took refuge in the jungle as in Mato Grosso or a detective engaged in complex investigations among the skyscrapers of the economic power of Los Angeles as in Sun rise, and it was always flawless.
Almost seventy, he could easily afford to be credible as an action hero in The Rock by Michael Bay, and thief able to seduce Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment.
But, once again, Connery knew when and where to stop.
Sure, there was The legend of the extraordinary men (where he had to say at length with director Steven Norrington), but his real farewell film should be considered Discovering Forrester by Gus Van Sant, where he plays a rough, gruff and introverted Scottish writer who disappeared from the scene after the Pulitzer win.
He, Connery, had won the Oscar in 1988 for The Untouchables, and also a Golden Globe, but basically the awards did not interest him much.
Reserved but outspoken, and without fear of making one’s voice heard, whatever reaction this might have, Connery could afford to say he quit acting because he was “fed up with idiots” and because “retirement is so damn nice.”
He has spent the last few years working for Scottish independence, for the protection of the seas and marine life, and enjoying the money he earned over a long and glorious career, in the face of the controversy over real and alleged tax evasion of a few years ago. . Besides, he, who came from a proletarian family, knew the value of money well.
Now Sean Connery is dead. The new film by James Bond – who knows what he would have thought – is postponed to who knows when for the pandemic.
All that remains is to wear a tuxedo, run to a bar – before 6pm – and order a shaken, unmixed vodka martini; light a cigarette and delude ourselves for the last time that we can somehow approach that absolute charm that, with him, has disappeared forever.