Motion picture Goldfinger was released in 1964, during the ongoing political turbulence of the Cold War between superpowers U.S. and Russia, and two years short of the war's Cuban Missile Crisis. The nation had experience an explosion of technological advancements during the early era of the Cold War, especially in the course of the Space Race with the launch of Russia's Sputnik, and during the Nuclear Arm Race as both superpowers dispatch production of nuclear weapons amid a heightening global anxiety. This global anxiety intensified during The Cuban Missile Crisis and is considered the world's nearest occurrence to nuclear war. Essentially these events imposed a lasting impression on the American psyche, eventually manifesting into cultural expressions.
These technological developments forge a widespread anxiety coupled with enthusiasm. This cultural feeling is described as modernism as a cultural experience, "Cultural modernism is an experience in which 'all that is solid melts into air'. This phrase, coined my Marx, suggests change, uncertainty and risk. Thus industry, technology and communications systems transformed the human world and continue to do so at a breathless pace. Such transformations hold out the promise of an end of material scarcity. However, they also carry a 'darker side'". (Barker, 181). Goldfinger is a cultural expression of this underlying fear and enthusiasm. James Bond (Sean Connery) represents the exciting and alluring aspect of modern culture. He is handsome, young, intelligent and almost super-human by the very human advancements that is technology. It's an opportunity to appalled human progression and bluster the possibilities of an advance technological society, such as the scene when Bond is introduced to the Aston Martin DB5 that is packed with high-tech knickknacks, and with the potential to make any 1960's audience fascinated, "to be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and our world..." (Barker, 182).
Goldfinger (Gret Forbe) however is the antithesis of James Bond. His mirky and unattractive presence stirs an eerie sensation throughout the film. Although powerful himself, as well as technologically prepared, his motives are no longer to provoke excitement like Bond, instead his motive is fear. His power becomes dangerous with the scheme to set-off a nuclear reaction on Fort Knox and to increase the value of his gold. Goldfinger represents the dangerous aspect of a high-tech advanced society, such as the scene of Goldfinger introducing his menacing proposal to his investors. This scene delivers a disturbing view of Goldfinger's room suddenly turning dark and threatening, as he masterminds his money-make plan at the cost of anything in his way; as the scene of James Bond tied to a table with a laser beam leading into his crotch and at the mercy of Goldfinger, as both good and bad finally meet , "...(modernism) and at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we are." (Barker, 182).
Goldfinger is the cultural expression of what possibly a 1960's audience was feeling during the course of the cold war, and turned into an acceptable approach for entertainment value; escapism. It is very common to find many motion pictures and television shows that become outward expressions of the times, as a method to cope with the uncertainty. In this case, Goldfinger is the expression of a cultural experience from a society promptly advancing in technology and way of life, and consequently advancing in more dangerous methods of destruction and uncertainty. Like Goldfinger, what other films and television shows express enthusiasm and an underlying fear of a rapid technological society? Does this fear and enthusiasm remain true today, and what are some the cultural expressions portrayed today?
Barker, Chris, and Paul Willis. Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles [u.a.: SAGE, 2008. Print.
Goldfinger. Dir, Guy Hamilton. 1964.