The Bond films have always been known for their wonderfully detailed sets, ranging from impressive villain lairs to lavish hotels and casinos. Set and production designers like Sir Ken Adam, Peter Lamont and Dennis Gassner have given the Bond films of their time an unmistakable look and succeeded in stunning cinema audiences across the globe.
Today, I would like to direct your attention to a particular design object that can be seen in more than just one Bond film and thereby almost seems, although not particularly highlighted, placed on purpose: the Blackamoor statue.
Blackamoor figures (Italian moretto, moretti) are depictions of dark-skinned Africans used in sculpture, jewelry, armorial designs and decorative art. The blackamoor is typically male, depicted with a head covering, usually a turban, and covered in rich jewels and gold leaf. They are typically enamelled, carved from ebony or painted black to contrast with the bright colors of the embellishments.
In decorative sculpture the full body is depicted, either to hold trays as virtual servants or bronze sconces to hold candles or light fixtures. They may be incorporated into small stands, tables, or andirons. They are often portrayed in pairs. Andrea Brustolon (1662–1732) was the most important sculptor of blackamoors. Often these blackamoors are in acrobatic positions that would be impossible to hold for any extended length of time for a real person.
Despite being a work of art, having a sculpture like this in your home could easily spark controversy among your visitors and friends. It is a questionable piece of decoration that has come in many forms over the decades and some might find certain depictions degrading. Watching the older Bond films again, I found these Blackamoors to be a frequent part of the set design. Let´s have a look at the scenes where they appear:
‘FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE’ (1963)
‘ON HER MAJESTY´S SECRET SERVICE’ (1969)
‘DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER’ (1971)
‘THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN’ (1975)
‘NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN’ (1983)
‘A VIEW TO A KILL’ (1985)
‘LICENCE TO KILL’ (1989)
‘THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH’ (1999)
After ‘THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH’, the Blackamoor statues have vanished from the Bond films but who knows…the statues might return.