Study Guide

Dr. No Setting

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Kingston, Jamaica, 1960s

Dr. No was released in the U.S. in 1963, two years after the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion (which has nothing to do with how Bond treats women) and one year after the tense Cuban Missile Crisis. Dr. No, without referencing either event, plays off of them, setting the U.S. up for a missile crisis of its own.

Bond finds himself in Jamaica instead of Cuba, but from his island laboratory, Dr. No plans on sabotaging a U.S. moon rocket, blasting a country with it and throwing the world into global chaos.

We have to note that the real life moon landing hadn't yet happened, giving a little bit of a futuristic flair to the Bond, even though the movie is lacking in other forms of dazzling technology.

Dr. No's island of a Crab Key is an intriguing location as well. Dr. No has gone to great lengths to make it seem like nothing special is happening on Crab Key.

LEITER: It belongs to a Chinese character. He won't allow anyone to land. I had our naval reconnaissance planes take a look. They only found a bauxite mine. Low-scan CH radar setup. But there's nothing illegal about that.

It's so un-illegal, in fact, that there must be something sketchy happening there. When Bond travels to Crab Key, he finds not only a swampy island hideout straight out of a pulpy adventure novel—hot babes, vines, radioactive marshes!—but he is soon led to an underwater lair that not even Jules Verne could have cooked up. Dr. No, the novel, is in fact a pulpy adventure novel, and practically a pastiche of every adventure stereotype at the time.

The unoriginality doesn't make Dr. No's submerged home/prison/research facility any less impressive, though. He has a huge window leagues under the sea to view fish up close. It's a view to kill for, you might say.

Despite the fancy digs, and the extreme cost to build them, they're disposable to Dr. No. He calls Crab Key,

DR. NO: An expendable little island, Mr. Bond. When my mission here in Crab Key is accomplished, I'll destroy it and move on.

When he articulates this, it is perhaps a little easier to understand why he might think Bond would ally with Dr. No and SPECTRE. As an agent of the crown, Bond is a subject of England, a nation with a long history of taking over places, effectively destroying them, and moving on.

Perhaps that parallel is accidental. When all is said and done, the Bond films aren't here to provide a historical critique. The tropical setting is chosen because it's pretty—the trees are green, the skies are blue, and the women are in skimpy bikinis. You don't get that in foggy old London.

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