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The Blackamoor statues in Bond films

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.

1stdibs-pair-of-life-size-lighted-venetian-blackamoorsBlackamoor 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)

Kerim Beys hidden office features a small Blackamoor candle holder in the window
Kerim Beys hidden office features a small Blackamoor candle holder in the window
Bonds hotel in Venice has a Blackamoor Lamp on the Balcony
Bonds hotel in Venice has a Blackamoor Lamp on the Balcony

‘GOLDFINGER’ (1964)

Two statues were placed at the entrance of Auric Goldfingers ranch house in Kentucky
Two statues were placed at the entrance of Auric Goldfingers ranch house in Kentucky

‘THUNDERBALL’ (1965)

The Opening sequence, filmed at Chateau D´Anet has a Blackamoor flower pot
The Opening sequence, filmed at Chateau D´Anet has a Blackamoor flower pot
Blackamoor wall lamp in Count Lippes room in the health spa
Blackamoor wall lamp in Count Lippes room in the health spa
Blackamoor candle holder in the Casino Scene
Blackamoor candle holder in the Casino Scene

‘ON HER MAJESTY´S SECRET SERVICE’ (1969)

Again in a casino, we see these decorative Blackamoor statues first
Again in a casino, we see these decorative Blackamoor statues first
Then another one as a candle holder
Then another one as a candle holder
And one supporting the ceiling
And one supporting the ceiling

‘DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER’ (1971)

Blackamoor Table statue in the Bridal Suite of the "White House" Hotel in Las Vegas
Blackamoor Table statue in the Bridal Suite of the “White House” Hotel in Las Vegas
Two more statues in the Bridal Suite bedroom
Two more statues in the Bridal Suite bedroom
A slightly different Blackamoor in Blofelds office
A slightly different Blackamoor in Blofelds office

‘THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN’ (1975)

Four Blackamoor statues in this still from the Beirut night club scene
Four Blackamoor statues in this still from the Beirut night club scene
Two of them can clearly be seen behind the exotic dancer
Two of them can clearly be seen behind the exotic dancer
Another one next to one of the henchmen sitting at a private table behind Bond
Another one next to one of the henchmen sitting at a private table behind Bond

‘NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN’ (1983)

Even in this unofficial Bond Film by Kevin McClory, a Blackamoor is prominently featured in the Casino scene
Even in this unofficial Bond Film by Kevin McClory, a Blackamoor is prominently featured in the Casino scene

‘A VIEW TO A KILL’ (1985)

A half-visible statue can be found at the entryway to villain Zorins office
A half-visible statue can be found at the entryway to villain Zorins office
Two more in Zorins office to the left and right of the window
Two more in Zorins office to the left and right of the window

‘LICENCE TO KILL’ (1989)

When Bond enters the Casino in Isthmus, a Blackamoor table statue is seen in the first shot
When Bond enters the Casino in Isthmus, a Blackamoor table statue is seen in the first shot
The office of villain Sanchez features a Blackamoor on the left
The office of villain Sanchez features a Blackamoor on the left
And here is another shot with the Casino statue in the background
And here is another shot with the Casino statue in the background

‘THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH’ (1999)

Two Blackamoor candle holders can be seen in Elektra Kings bedroom inside Maidens Tower
Two Blackamoor candle holders can be seen in Elektra Kings bedroom inside Maidens Tower

After ‘THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH’, the Blackamoor statues have vanished from the Bond films but who knows…the statues might return.

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