by Dr Richard Carter, Data Scientist, The Data Lab
It was in the summer of 1977 that it all began. My family was on holiday in the Isle of Wight when my father took me to the cinema to watch The Spy Who Loved Me. I only have one real memory of that day, but what a memory: a white Lotus Esprit barrelling down a jetty and launching off into the blue Mediterranean. From that moment on I’ve had a life-long obsession for all things James Bond which borders on the unhealthy. I can name theme songs, characters, actors, directors, cars, their number-plates, you name it. For most of the films I can reel off large sections of dialogue verbatim. Yes, it really is that bad!
My first piece of data science on the films was back in 2012. I took their ratings from IMDB and learned, to no real surprise, that there was negative trend in the time series of the films’ scores. Armed with this knowledge I went to watch the newly-released Skyfall with my hopes well and truly reigned in, but was delighted when it exceeded both my primitive model’s expectations and my own.
When Spectre came out last year I saw it as an opportunity for some more data science, and one thing I had never seen calculated are the distances travelled by Bond in each of the 24 canon films. What follows is a real labour of love. Armed with my own knowledge and cross-checked against several online plot summaries – The Bond Film Informant, The James Bond 007 Wiki and Wikipedia – I noted the various locations where Bond is present. For each of these I discovered the latitude and longitude, then calculated the mileage for each leg using the Haversine formula for distance between two points on a globe.
To my own surprise I can reveal that after the release of the latest film Daniel Craig’s incarnation has now travelled further than any of the other actors to have donned the famous dinner jacket. Although Craig has only appeared in four films he now sits atop the most-travelled list.
Craig still has some catching up to do when it comes to the number of countries visited, however. He currently sits in 4th position on 15, behind Brosnan (16), Connery (17), and Moore (18). The total distance covered in all the films is approximately 263,000 miles, equivalent to over ten times around the world! The film with the greatest amount of mileage is Quantum of Solace, even though at 106 minutes it has the shortest runtime of all the Bond movies.
|Quantum of Solace
|Diamonds Are Forever
|Die Another Day
|The Living Daylights
|Tomorrow Never Dies
|A View to a Kill
|The Man with the Golden Gun
|Live and Let Die
|The Spy Who Loved Me
|The World Is Not Enough
|On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
|For Your Eyes Only
|From Russia With Love
|You Only Live Twice
|License To Kill
A closer inspection of the six different actors’ routes reveals some interesting features. Roger Moore travelled into space at the end of Moonraker (shown as a dotted line and not included in this analysis), whereas George Lazenby’s sole outing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service did not even leave Europe.
When it comes to locations there is an obvious winner. The UK features in all but two films: You Only Live Twice and License To Kill. Overseas destinations are led by the US (9 films) and Italy (7). There are some suprising omissions from Bond’s travels too: he has yet to visit Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, for example, or any of the Nordic countries bar Iceland.
The character has twice visited Scotland. The first shows a naval base in The Spy Who Loved Me, whilst the second was a return to Bond’s family home for the conclusion to Skyfall.
So which are the best Bond films, I hear you ask? Well whatever IMDB or anyone else will tell you they’re quite evidently:
- The Spy Who Loved Me
with honourable mentions to From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Casino Royale. And the best James Bond? Well for me it has to be Sir Roger.
Remember, you don’t always need data science to prove a point; you can sometimes take the expert’s opinion on trust!
Dr Richard Carter works for The Data Lab as a data scientist. The Data Lab is a Scottish Innovation Centre with hubs in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen with a remit to generate significant economic, social and scientific value from data.