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Skyfall made prominent use of paintings, especially paintings of ships, to visualize James Bond's and MI6's state, as previosly discussed.

Given this, I couldn't help but notice that its successor Spectre, as made by the same director, again seemed to rather prominently feature a huge painting of a shipping scenery behind M when he was sitting alone in a restaurant, before being visited by Eve and Q with news about Bond.

So yet again I ought to ask, what painting was that in this scene with M in the restaurant and did it have any further significance? Did it even play into the same symbolism that the previous movie seemed to impose on those ship paintings?


(Thanks to this blog post the scene was apparently filmed in Rules Restaurant in Covent Garden, which might speak for the fact that the painting (if the same one) could be more of a natural consequence of the location rather than a deliberate choice (which might still have influenced the choice for the filming location in the first place, though).

enter image description here

  • A picture paints a thousand words.. Got a screenshot? – Andrew Thompson Nov 12 '15 at 7:41
  • @AndrewThompson From a newly released theatrical movie? No, not yet. Therefore the description of the scene for context. Anyone answering about the painting and its significance for the movie ought to watch that scene anyway. But maybe I can add an image once there's high-quality footage of it available. – Napoleon Wilson Nov 12 '15 at 8:21
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I'm not sure the painting is significant, or if it's the restaurant itself that is significant.

The restaurant shown is the Rules Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in London. The painting shown in Spectre does indeed hang there and doesn't appear to be a particularly famous work.

Therefore, I'd suggest the restaurant symbolises a few things:

Firstly, M - like Bond - enjoys the finer things in life, including being at an old and well-respect restaurant. This would fit with his character from the novels, who enjoyed frequenting The Blades Club.

Secondly - and perhaps more symbolically - it could symbolise a meeting "of the old". The plot of Spectre follows Max Denbigh, as an agent of Blofeld, introducing the Nine Eyes spy system. Denbigh dislikes the 00 unit and wants to impose total surveillance on the state, under the guise of protecting the people.

He comments on a number of occasions to M about how irrelevant he believes him and his unit to be in the modern world:

Denbigh: When are you going to realize you don't matter anymore?
M: Maybe not. But something has to.

On another occasion, Denbigh also comments:

Denbigh: Take a look at the world... chaos... because people like you, paper-pushers and politicians, are too spineless to do what needs to be done so I made an alliance to put the power where it should be, and now you want to throw it away for the sake of democracy, whatever the hell that is. How predictably moronic.

Therefore, I like to think the meeting in the restaurant symbolises a meeting of "the old". M and his unit are viewed to be outdated and unnecessary in the face of modern surveillance. They meet in the oldest restaurant in London and M tells his unit they cannot interfere - they cannot help any more, they have no power.

Obviously as the film goes on, they do interfere and they do help Bond. But at the time of the meeting, the old restaurant symbolises the lack of power of M and his unit perfectly.

  • Were you able to find the name of the painting or the artist name? I would swear that it's a Grimshaw painting, but I am not 100% sure. – steelersquirrel Jan 31 '16 at 16:42
  • @steelerfan: I'm still trying to track it down. Sadly the restaurant's website doesn't mention it. – Andrew Martin Feb 1 '16 at 0:09
  • You might want to start with John Atkinson Grimshaw. It really looks like one of his paintings :) – steelersquirrel Feb 1 '16 at 1:38

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