Magoosh English Lesson: The Incredible Gadgets of James Bond

Man in tuxedo fixing his cuffs

In part two of our two-part English in Blockbuster Movies: James Bond series, we will take a closer look at how the technology in James Bond has evolved over the years. So, let’s get ready to learn about the incredible gadgets of James Bond!

Goals:

  • Learn how to refer to different gadgets
  • Learn new general English and movie-related vocabulary
  • Learn how to use ellipses
  • Discover interesting facts about the gadgets of James Bond

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Time: Approximately 15 minutes

 

Reading Passage

The James Bond series is famous for introducing some imaginative and even ridiculous new gadgets to moviegoers. This tradition dates back to the first Bond film, Dr. No (1962), in which Sean Connery (playing “Agent 007”) requests a special “Geiger counter” (a device that detects radioactivity). While a Geiger counter is a device that people use in the real world, it led to increasingly implausible gadgets in subsequent Bond films.

Bond usually gets his devices from Q, the head of research and development for the British Secret Service. In addition to the Geiger counter, Q supplied the first James Bond with a special briefcase that had secret compartments containing guns, ammunition, and a throwing knife. If the wrong person opened it, the briefcase would even spray the intruder with tear gas! 

 

The Early Years

In the earliest Bond films, the gadgets were often based on real-life appliances that already existed. For example, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (the first Bond film not to feature Sean Connery as the dashing British spy), Bond uses a device to opens locks, though it also had an attached copy machine. In 1969 (the year of the movie’s release), a portable copy machine was already pretty advanced, even if it wasn’t able to crack open locks!

 

More Advanced Tech

When Roger Moore took over the role in 1973, the gadgets started getting more advanced and…bizarre. In Moore’s first Bond film, Live and Let Die, Q provides 007 with an anti-shark gun. What exactly is an anti-shark gun? It’s a gun that shoots special pellets that will literally cause a shark (or even a person) to explode! Moore would go on to use dozens of gadgets during his tenure, including a magnetic watch, a submarine car, and even a boombox that doubles as a rocket launcher!

By the time Pierce Brosnan became James Bond in 1995, the advancement of real-life technology made many of Bond’s old gadgets look relatively low-tech. In Goldeneye, 007 uses a watch that can shoot lasers, but his gadgets would only get more advanced from there. He would eventually use a mobile phone taser, an invisible car, and x-ray glasses.

 

A Return to Normalcy

Finally, Daniel Craig helped bring the James Bond series back to Earth. The movies relied less on hi-tech gadgets and adopted a more serious tone. That said, the filmmakers didn’t want to completely kill the gadget tradition. In Craig’s first film, Casino Royale, he is implanted with a microchip that allows the British Secret Service to track his location. In Skyfall, Bond uses a gun that can recognize his palm print and only fires when he pulls the trigger

Even though James Bond gadgets have become less extreme in recent years, you can always expect to see new hi-tech equipment in every Bond film. It remains to be seen what creative gadgets the filmmakers will think up next!

 

YouTube Links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICmuFRBvPmk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT0OXaEcr1I

 

Word Focus

Let’s take a closer look at some of the words in bold from the passage:

  • Gadget – (noun) – A small device (usually mechanical or electronic) that serves a unique purpose.

007’s gadgets have gotten him out of a lot of dangerous situations.

  • Radioactivity – (noun) – The process of producing or emitting radiation.

Scanning for radioactivity helped 007 find the bomb.

  • Implausible – (adjective) – Unconvincing, unlikely, or unreasonable.

Most of the gadgets introduced during the Roger Moore years were completely implausible. 

  • Research and development – (noun) – Activities aimed at inventing or improving something.

The research and development team created a lot of advanced weaponry.

  • Intruder – (noun) – Trespasser; someone who enters a space without permission.

The intruder tried to kill Bond while he slept.

  • Appliance – (noun) – Equipment designed for a specific purpose.

Q also put plenty of useful appliances inside 007’s car.

  • Dashing – (adjective) – Attractive; confident.

Every James Bond actor must be dashing and well-dressed.

  • Pellet – (noun) – A small, round object.

Bond forced the villain to eat a pellet that would make him explode. 

  • Tenure – (noun) – A period during which a person is employed or holds a specific position.

Timothy Dalton’s tenure as James Bond was brief. 

  • Boombox – (noun) – A portable music player that uses radio and cassette tapes.

The boombox was a popular music device in the 1980s and 1990s.

  • Low-tech – (adjective) – The opposite of “hi-tech;” simple or lacking in advanced technology.

James Bond’s first briefcase was pretty low-tech.

  • Taser – (noun) – A small weapon that sends out electric pulses.

James Bond used a taser to temporarily paralyze his enemies.

  • Microchip – (noun) – A tiny device that tracks, stores, and relays information.

The British Secret Service used a microchip to ensure that 007 was safe. 

  • Palm print – (noun) – An image of the hand that shows the unique lines and wrinkles on a human palm.

In James Bond movies, some doors needed to be opened using a palm print reader.

  • Trigger – (noun) – A small device that must be pressed for a gun to fire.

James Bond pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed, giving the villain time to escape.

Grammar Center

Take a look at the following sentence from the passage:

When Roger Moore took over the role in 1973, the gadgets started getting more advanced and…bizarre.

The sentence above uses an informal ellipsis. An ellipsis is three periods (…) in a row. While it almost always looks the same, it doesn’t always serve the same purpose. Here are a few of the most common reasons to use an ellipsis:

 

Missing or Omitted Quotations 

If you’re writing a direct quote in which some words are missing or you wish to remove certain words to save time and space, you should replace the missing words with an ellipsis. This is the traditional or “formal” use of an ellipsis. Here is an example:

Original Quote: “I just want to say, and I am really quite drunk now so I won’t go on for long, this has been one of the best, most wonderful experiences I have ever had. You’ve all done the most amazing job. I could not be more proud to work with every single one of you on this production. I would like to thank you for this evening, I want to thank you for this—Barbara, for putting it on. Thank goodness we did this tonight.” – Daniel Craig, No Time to Die wrap party

Quote with ellipses: “I just want to say…this has been one of the best, most wonderful experiences I have ever had. You’ve all done the most amazing job.  I could not be more proud to work with every single one of you on this production…thank goodness we did this tonight.” – Daniel Craig, No Time to Die wrap party

As you can see, the ellipses allow you to remove unnecessary clauses and shorten a quote without taking too much away from its meaning. 

 

Tone and Effect

Ellipses are also used to change the tone of a sentence and create certain effects for the reader. This is the “informal” way to use ellipses in English writing because it is largely up to the writer to decide how and when to use them. Here are the most common ways to use ellipses:

  • To emphasize a “pause” in speech or thoughtI enjoy watching movies…I just never have the time.
  • To create anticipation or suspenseAfter years of searching, Bond found it…the perfect gadget.
  • To show uncertaintyI really don’t know what to do…I’m completely lost…
  • To leave a thought unfinishedI’d like to help, but…

Ellipses can replace commas, semicolons, and colons when you want to put greater emphasis on a pause or the tone of the sentence in informal writing. However, just as you should with any form of punctuation, you must be careful not to overuse them!

 

Quiz

Now, let’s look at a few questions to review the passage, vocabulary, and grammar:

 

1. Which of the following statements most accurately captures the central idea of the passage?

A. James Bond’s gadgets changed over the years, but they always remained useful.
B. The makers of the James Bond films chose to use fewer and fewer gadgets over time.
C. James Bond gets all of his gadgets from Q, the head of research and development.
D. While James Bond’s gadgets have changed and become more advanced over time, they serve as one of the most beloved parts of the movie series.

2. Which James Bond actor first used a gadget?

A. Roger Moore
B. Sean Connery
C. Daniel Craig
D. Pierce Brosnan

3. Which of the following is implausible?

A. Invisible car
B. Machine gun
C. Waterproof watch
D. Briefcase

4. Based on your understanding of the word, which of the following is most similar in meaning to gadget?

A. Pellet
B. Trigger
C. Appliance
D. Boombox

5. Which is NOT a reason to use an ellipsis?

A. To replaced omitted words
B. To create a relaxed tone
C. To create a suspenseful tone
D. To show a pause or hesitation

6. Which of the punctuation combinations below work best for the following sentence: “After getting his gadgets from Q _ Bond prepared to face one of the most evil villains in history _ Goldfinger.”

A. Comma, ellipsis
B. Comma, comma
C. Comma, ellipsis
D. Colon, ellipsis

 

 

Correct Answers:

  1. D
  2. B
  3. A
  4. C
  5. B
  6. C
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