Moonraker (1979), the most outlandish of the first fourteen James Bond masterpieces (which are also the only entries I consider “official”), defies virtually every standard of knowledge and canon of respectability known to our species. The film uses its childlike wisdom to find the fun – and joke – in everything. Of course, such lighthearted wisdom is tinged with the profound seriousness of what most children ultimately lose under the superficial constraints of the conformist adult world (even if they retain fragments of their intellectual purity).
The film is also startlingly perverse, creating new forms of artifice to satirize some of the world’s most irrational problems. For example, the chief megalomaniac’s space-age plot to perpetrate an environmentally beneficial genocide is a cosmic distortion of the Noah’s Ark myth, reminding us to think twice about inaugurating conflicts in order to dictate or enforce arbitrary, idiosyncratic notions of universal policy.
Ken Adam’s self-consciously artificial sets and John Barry’s haunting score add to the film’s awe-inspiring surrealism. The title song soars high above moonlit Capital “R” Romantic seas.
A retrospective review by Barry Germansky