- Gala Brand
James Bond Character
affiliation=U.K. Special Branch
Bond girlPractically alone of all major Bond Girls of the Fleming canon, Gala Brand has not appeared as a character in a James Bond film, the movie version of the novel being an almost total rewrite of the book "Moonraker". The only other Bond girl of the Fleming novels to share this fate is Vivienne Michelof the novel " The Spy Who Loved Me". However, actress Rosamund Pike, in the DVD commentary for the 2002 Bond film, " Die Another Day", states that her character, Miranda Frost, was originally to have been named Gala Brand, but that this was changed at the last minute.
Gala Brand is a policewoman assigned to England's
Special Branch. Her full first name is Galatea, after the cruiserin which her father was serving when she was born. She is a former Wren, and at the time of "Moonraker" she is a Special Branchagent. Posing as Sir Hugo Drax's personal secretary, she is assigned to provide security for the construction and launch of his prototype atomic missile, for which the book is named. Drax being something of a lecher, M explains to Bond, Gala also pretends to be engaged and wears a ring to help fend Drax off, a tactic which eventually succeeded, but not before he made at several passes at her.
Bond is assigned to oversee security for the project a few days before the Moonraker's test launch; the last minute assignment occurs because of the death of his predecessor, Major Tallon. Tallon was killed by one of the missile technicians, a German in Drax's employ who publicly shot Tallon after loudly telling him "I love Gala Brand. You shall not have her." The episode is curious because Gala has reported that Tallon, much older than she and happily married, had never shown any romantic interest in her during the months they worked together.
Because Bond sees Gala's personnel file during his preparatory briefing, we (and he) have the unique opportunity in this case to have a clinical description of a Bond Girl's appearance, including her hair color (auburn), eye color (blue), height (5'7") measurements (38-26-38), weight (9 stone, or 126 pounds), and beauty marks (a mole on the upper curvature of her right breast). When Bond meets her in person at Drax's house, he finds her, in contrast to her file photograph, attractive to the point of outright seductiveness, but cool to the point of frigidity and utterly disdainful of any of his attempts even to talk to her. After months undercover as Drax's secretary, Gala has become entirely devoted to the project's success, and she sees Bond as an interloper and treats him as such.
Along with seeing her official file, we also have the rare treat of overhearing some of Gala's thoughts about Bond. A dedicated policewoman, she sees Bond as a sort of playboy-adventurer of the stereotypical secret-agent sort dreamed up by writers of thrillers and not a real detective, doubting that he can be of any use on the project. Nevertheless, she admittedly finds him very handsome and, like
Vesper Lyndbefore her, she sees a resemblance to Hoagy Carmichael. Despite Bond's attractiveness, however, she takes a dim view of him, and she lets him know this by ignoring him as much as possible.
During a walk on the beach below the Moonraker's silo to check security arrangements around the exhaust tunnel, however, Gala begins to open up somewhat to Bond. When he suggests a swim, she rather coyly gives in and strips down to her underwear out of Bond's sight. While she is swimming, Bond leaps out of the water next to her and kisses her before she realizes what is happening. Furious, she nevertheless finds herself excited and her aloofness soon vanishes. Later, the two lie on the beach to dry, still largely undressed, when an explosion buries them in rubble, nearly killing them both. Bond manages to pull the debris from Gala and the two return to Drax's house.
Later, when driving with Drax to London, Gala employs her skills as a pickpocket to sneak a look at the Moonraker's gyroscope settings, discovering to her horror that they will cause the Moonraker to hit London. At that moment she intuits that Drax plans to put an atomic warhead on the rocket, but before she can report what she has learned, Drax and her henchmen discover that she is a policewoman and knock her out. Because she had agreed to meet Bond in London for dinner, Bond grows suspicious when she fails to appear and at Drax's city house spots Drax's henchman stuffing Gala into the back seat of Drax's car. Bond chases Drax but is knocked out and captured when he wrecks during the chase.
After Drax interrogates Bond and Gala, Bond uses a blowtorch with his mouth to burn through the wires restraining Gala. The pain is terrible, but as he recovers she kisses him, her eyes shining. Gala reprograms the missile to fall into the North Sea, and the two hide in a close embrace in an exhaust duct as Drax's men search for them. Then, as the missile launches, they embrace again under a running shower adjacent to the silo in an attempt to survive the missile exhaust. The missile explodes in the North Sea, killing Drax and his men.
Bond arranges to meet Gala the following day after their debriefings. Gala is to receive the
George Cross(Bond's service discourages the awarding of decorations), and the two are under orders to leave England for a month as part of the cover-up of what really happened with the Moonraker. Bond is in St James's Parkdelightedly planning his month with Gala when she arrives. She looks very beautiful, but he immediately senses that this beauty is intended for someone else. Nervously, she points out a young man a hundred yards away, identifying him as her fiancé and telling Bond that she is to be married the following afternoon.
Bond, tasting the bitterness of failure, is angry with himself for supposing Gala's ring and her story about being engaged to have been a fabrication. He realizes, however, that he needs to relieve her of any awkward feelings about his interest in her. He rather playfully tells her that he is envious and that he had other plans for her the following night, and, laughing in relief, she assures him that there are many other women waiting for him. The two part amicably, and Bond recedes regretfully back into his cold existence.
Gala is the most professional of all of Fleming's Bond Girls, being practically the only one to have an independent career. In this she is like Dr. Holly Goodhead of the film, who is the first cinematic Bond Girl to have a job that is not related to an intelligence service. Unlike Holly Goodhead, though, and despite her interlude with Bond on the beach, Gala is also the only one who rebuffs Bond and who clearly belongs to another. The concluding scene in the novel gives us a view of Bond as a Byronic figure of whom we see occasional glimpses in other Fleming novels.
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