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The Blackamoor statues in Bond films

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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