Movies

A Closer Look at the Thunderball and Die Another Day Breathers

The Evolution of James Bond's Underwater Gadgets

 In the thrilling world of James Bond, the iconic British spy with a license to kill, underwater missions have always held a special place. As a Navy Commander, Bond’s expertise in the sub-aquatic realm is unmatched, and his arsenal of cutting-edge gadgets is always at the forefront of technology. Among the array of remarkable devices, the ‘Breathers’ stand out as timeless symbols of Bond’s underwater escapades. Originally seen in the 1965 film Thunderball and revisited in 2002’s Die Another Day, these iconic props have captivated audiences for over five decades. This article delves into the evolution of the Thunderball and Die Another Day Breathers, examining their design, significance, and the meticulous replication efforts by Factory Entertainment.

Key Takeaways

  • The Thunderball Breather, introduced in Thunderball, was used by Sean Connery’s Bond to infiltrate Largo’s lair. Crafted by the EON prop team, it featured custom-made machined parts and repurposed items, such as micro-sized gas canisters from soda siphons.
  • The Die Another Day Breather, seen in the film starring Pierce Brosnan, showcased an updated version of the prop. Crafted by the same EON prop team, it incorporated miniature air tanks repurposed from keychains, along with a rubber mouthpiece sourced from a commercial snorkel.
  • The Factory Entertainment Breather Evolution Set offers faithful replicas of both the Thunderball and Die Another Day Breathers. These replicas meticulously replicate the design of the original props, thanks to exhaustive research and assistance from AJB007.co.uk forum members Pete and Jeff.

Thunderball Breather: A Classic Icon of Bond’s Aquatic Exploits

Introduced in the 1965 film Thunderball, starring the legendary Sean Connery as Agent 007, the Thunderball Breather holds a special place in the hearts of Bond enthusiasts. This remarkable prop was issued to Bond by Q, the ingenious mastermind behind the spy’s gadgetry, during his mission in the Bahamas. Its primary purpose was to enable Bond to infiltrate Largo’s lair, which was guarded by a pool teeming with deadly sharks.

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On screen, the Thunderball Breather appeared utterly convincing, with Connery gripping it between his teeth as he held his breath and dived into the treacherous waters. Behind the scenes, the prop was meticulously crafted by the EON prop team at Pinewood Studios in England. It was constructed using a combination of custom-made machined parts and repurposed items, including micro-sized gas canisters sourced from soda siphons commonly found in 1960s British households.

Thunderball breather replica by Factory Entertainment
Thunderball breather replica by Factory Entertainment

Often referred to as a rebreather, the Thunderball Breather played a crucial role in Bond’s mission, yet it was never explicitly named in the film. Q simply referred to it as a device that could be used “in the event of a rebreather not being available.” The prop was ingeniously concealed within an aluminum Romeo y Julieta Churchill cigar case, adding a touch of sophistication to Bond’s arsenal.

The replica of the Thunderball Breather included in the Factory Entertainment Breather Evolution Set is hailed as the most accurate and faithful reproduction to date. Painstakingly created after exhaustive research, the replica is an exact and precise copy of the original prop, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Factory Entertainment and invaluable assistance from AJB007.co.uk forum members Pete and Jeff.

Die Another Day Breather: A Modernized Evolution of Bond’s Underwater Gear

In the 2002 film Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan took on the role of James Bond once again, showcasing a new version of the breather. This time, Bond’s mission took him to Iceland, where he needed to penetrate Gustav Graves’ lair undetected. As with the Thunderball Breather, the Die Another Day version was crafted by the talented EON prop team at Pinewood Studios, combining both found and custom-made components.

The canisters of the Die Another Day Breather were ingeniously repurposed keychains in the shape of miniature air tanks. Originally designed by a sub-aqua supply company to store full-sized air tank ‘O’ rings, these miniature tanks were incorporated into a central aluminum body. To enhance comfort and usability, the prop featured a rubber mouthpiece sourced from a commercially available snorkel.

Die Another Day breather replica
Die Another Day breather replica

Just like its Thunderball predecessor, the Die Another Day Breather replica included in the Factory Entertainment Breather Evolution Set faithfully replicates every detail of the original prop. The EON archives served as a vital resource for Factory Entertainment, allowing them to study surviving props, reference materials such as blueprints, photographs, and other relevant documents. This meticulous research, combined with the passion and expertise of the team, resulted in an exquisite replica that showcases the evolution of Bond’s underwater gadgets.

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Each Breather replica in the Factory Entertainment Breather Evolution Set is a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship behind the 007 film props. Alongside the intricately crafted replicas, the set includes a museum-quality display stand, an acrylic cover to protect the props, a numbered limited edition plaque, a certificate of authenticity (COA), and a detailed prop story booklet. This comprehensive collection pays homage to the iconic Breathers and celebrates their significance in the rich legacy of James Bond films.

Die Another Day breather replica
Die Another Day breather replica

 

FAQ

1. How were the Thunderball and Die Another Day Breathers used in the James Bond films?

In the 1965 film Thunderball, the Thunderball Breather was issued to James Bond, played by Sean Connery, during his mission in the Bahamas. The prop allowed Bond to infiltrate Largo’s lair, which was guarded by a shark-infested pool. Bond held the breather in his mouth while diving underwater, providing him with the ability to hold his breath for an extended period. This ingenious device, created by the EON prop team, consisted of custom-made machined parts and repurposed items, such as micro-sized gas canisters from soda siphons.

In the 2002 film Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan’s Bond was equipped with an updated version of the breather. This time, Bond used it to enter Gustav Graves’ lair in Iceland undetected. The Die Another Day Breather, also crafted by the EON prop team, featured miniature air tanks in the form of keychains, repurposed from sub-aqua supply company products. These tanks were incorporated into a central aluminum body, with a rubber mouthpiece sourced from a commercial snorkel for improved comfort.

2. What is the significance of the Thunderball Breather being concealed within an aluminum Romeo y Julieta Churchill cigar case?

The Thunderball Breather’s concealment within an aluminum Romeo y Julieta Churchill cigar case added a touch of elegance and sophistication to the prop. In the film, Q presented the breather to Bond inside this cigar case, highlighting the spy’s refined taste and the covert nature of his gadgets. The choice of the Romeo y Julieta Churchill brand, known for its premium cigars, emphasized Bond’s discerning lifestyle and love for luxury.

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From a storytelling perspective, the use of the cigar case as a hiding place for the breather enhanced the intrigue and suspense surrounding Bond’s missions. It demonstrated the spy’s ability to seamlessly blend everyday objects with cutting-edge technology, a signature characteristic of the James Bond franchise. The cigar case also served as a memorable visual element, further solidifying the Thunderball Breather’s iconic status among Bond fans.

3. Are the Thunderball and Die Another Day Breathers functional breathing apparatuses?

No, the Thunderball and Die Another Day Breathers, both as depicted in the films and as replicated by Factory Entertainment, are not functional breathing apparatuses. They are prop replicas designed to honor and celebrate the art of the 007 film prop. While the Thunderball Breather resembles a rebreather, it is never explicitly referred to as such in the film. The prop was simply held in Connery’s mouth, allowing him to hold his breath for extended periods underwater.

Similarly, the Die Another Day Breather replica faithfully reproduces the prop used by Pierce Brosnan’s Bond, but it is not intended for actual use as a breathing apparatus. The keychains-turned-miniature air tanks and the rubber mouthpiece from a commercial snorkel are elements that replicate the design of the original prop. These replicas are meticulously crafted collectibles that offer fans the opportunity to own a piece of James Bond history and appreciate the artistry behind the iconic gadgets.

Conclusion

The Thunderball and Die Another Day Breathers have become enduring symbols of James Bond’s aquatic adventures. From the elegant concealment of the Thunderball Breather within an aluminum Romeo y Julieta Churchill cigar case to the updated design of the Die Another Day Breather, these props exemplify the ingenuity and attention to detail that have defined the 007 film franchise. The Factory Entertainment Breather Evolution Set allows fans to own a piece of cinematic history, with replicas that honor the original props in every intricate detail.

Through exhaustive research and collaboration with dedicated enthusiasts, Factory Entertainment has crafted replicas that capture the essence and evolution of these iconic gadgets. With museum-quality display stands, detailed prop story booklets, and certificates of authenticity, the Breather Evolution Set stands as a testament to the craftsmanship behind the 007 film props. Whether you’re a passionate Bond fan or an admirer of prop replication, this collection celebrates the artistry and enduring legacy of James Bond’s underwater world.

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