Gerry Anderson’s Moonraker: A Fascinating Glimpse into an Alternate 007 Timeline
Picture this: it’s the swinging 60s, and the intrepid James Bond is brought to life by either Sean Connery or George Lazenby. Enter Gerry Anderson, the puppetry wizard behind Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, and his partner in creative crime, Tony Barwick.
These two masterminds are tasked with reinventing Moonraker, Ian Fleming’s 1955 novel, for the silver screen. What could go wrong?
Well, dear reader, as it turns out, fate had other plans. Despite the promising union of Bond and Anderson, a series of unfortunate events unfolded, leaving the world bereft of what might have been a truly unique 007 experience.
What Would Anderson’s Moonraker Have Been?
In Gerry Anderson’s version of Moonraker, the story remains more faithful to Fleming’s original work. Hugo Drax, the crazed villain, is a wheelchair-bound figure with fiery red hair, titanic mutton chops, and an imposing mustache.
The Moonraker rocket, a deadly piece of British technology, is intended to orbit the moon and act as an ultimate deterrent against nuclear warfare. It would have been a Moonraker grounded on Earth, with locations such as Brazil and the Caribbean, rather than the cosmos, providing the backdrop for Bond’s adventures.
Alas, despite Anderson’s valiant efforts and Harry Saltzman’s exuberant praise, their Moonraker was fated to languish in obscurity. The 1971 film Diamonds Are Forever took its place in the Bond cinematic lineage, with Connery returning to the role that made him a household name.
Years later, the elder Anderson’s son, Jamie, would stumble upon the long-forgotten treatment, tucked away in a dusty corner of his father’s filing cabinet. This discovery prompted a trip down memory lane, with Jamie recounting the tale of the Moonraker that never was on the SpyHards podcast.
His father’s treatment, filled with vivid descriptions and tantalizing action sequences, painted a picture of a Bond adventure with a unique Gerry Anderson twist. One could only imagine the thrilling motorbike chases atop a massive supertanker or the intriguing gadgets and gizmos that might have graced the screen.
The Moonraker We Got, Isn’t Much Loved
Ah, but fate is a fickle mistress, and despite the shelving of Gerry Anderson’s version, the cinematic universe eventually gave birth to a different iteration of Moonraker. A product of its time, the 1979 film catapulted Bond into the final frontier, merging the world of 007 with the sci-fi craze ignited by Star Wars.
Unfortunately, this cosmic concoction left both fans and critics somewhat wanting. Rather than basking in the warm glow of universal acclaim, the Moonraker we know today finds itself nestled within the realm of mediocrity, with a middling score of 59% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Campy gags, space-age shenanigans, and a departure from the grounded roots of Fleming’s novel have led to the film’s reputation as a lesser entry in the Bond canon. It’s a curious case of a film that’s not quite reviled, but not quite revered either, leaving it adrift in the murky waters of tepid reception.
Will We Ever See Gerry Anderson’s Moonraker?
The possibility of this alternate Moonraker ever coming to life remains uncertain. For now, it stands as a testament to the creative ambitions of Gerry Anderson and Tony Barwick, a curious artifact of an alternate cinematic reality that may one day see the light of day.
And until that day comes, we can only dream of what might have been, had these two creative geniuses been given the chance to bring their vision to life.