Madeleine Swann’s secret in No Time To Die is one of the most crucial elements in the entire narrative. Not only does it provide essential motivation for almost all of the main protagonists, but it also helps to explain the story’s tragic ending. However, although the secret is undeniably provocative, there are elements of it that are left up the audience’s interpretation, ultimately making it even more compelling.
Swann herself is a central figure throughout No Time To Die. The movie delves deep into her backstory, beyond what was already established in the previous film, Spectre. In the opening moments, a young Madeleine Swann is seen caring for her mother in a remote cabin, before their home is invaded by a masked assailant – later revealed to be the main antagonist, Lyutsifer Safin. Following this flashback, Swann is revealed to be traveling around Italy with James Bond, before associates of the Spectre organization eventually track down the pair. Bond’s belief that Swann is responsible for betraying him is a key factor in his initial retirement and makes the couple’s belated reunion an incredibly emotionally resonant moment.
However, despite the couple’s clear bond, Madeleine Swann spends much of the movie lying to the former MI:6 operative – specifically about the nature of his relationship with her daughter. Although it later becomes clear that Swann’s child, Mathilde, is also Bond’s, she initially denies the claim. This raises several questions about her motives, and even whether the strong implication about Mathilde’s parentage is actually true. Nevertheless, for all double-crossing and misinformation on display, there may actually be a very good reason why Swann continually lies to James Bond. Here’s why she seems so determined to keep her secret under wraps.
Madeleine Swann’s Secret In No Time To Die: James Bond Has A Daughter
Swann’s secret is a subject of intense speculation throughout No Time To Die. After the opening moments, in which she and Bond travel Italy, it is implied that she may be keeping something back about her relationship with the Spectre organization, explaining why Bond feels that he has been betrayed. However, it later becomes clear that her oft-alluded to secret is actually a daughter who lives with her in the same secluded cabin in which she grew up in Norway.
The reveal of Madeleine’s daughter is especially shocking, considering the numerous references made to her secret by some of the film’s major villains. For instance, during his interrogation with Bond, Spectre chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld presciently warns that “when her secret finds its way out, it will be the death of you.” Given Bond’s misgivings about trusting Swann after the film’s opening moments, the initial suggestion is that the secret is a more explicit link between her and Safin. As a result, the revelation that she and Bond actually have a daughter becomes doubly shocking.
Why Madeleine Lies To James Bond About Mathilde Being His Daughter
Despite the seemingly clear resemblance between Bond and Mathilde, Madeleine initially denies that she really is his daughter. Although this might initially seem confusing, there are several reasons why this approach actually makes perfect sense. One clue, for instance, stems from the opening moments of No Time To Die, in which Swann is seen interacting with her own mother. It’s clear from their relationship that Swann, from a very early age, has total responsibility for looking after her parent – feeding her as well as pouring her wine and providing medication. It’s almost certain that this had a huge effect on her character, and could have made her more determined to protect her own daughter in a way that her own mother failed to do. This could explain why, initially at least, she doesn’t wish to overcomplicate an already delicate situation by introducing her daughter to an up-until-now absent father figure.
It could also be the case that, after the events of the previous few years, Swann is yet to fully regain her own trust in Bond. After all, when the British spy felt that she had betrayed him previously, he didn’t hesitate in putting her on a train in the aftermath of an intense gunfight. Understandably, she may therefore have her own misgivings about trusting Bond with the full knowledge of the most precious thing in her life.
A third explanation could be that her initial denial was calculated as a way to protect Bond himself. Given the peril that the pair find themselves in, Swann may have reasoned that the best way to keep Bond focused on the job in hand was to keep him in the dark about Mathilde’s true parentage. That way, he could – as Judi Dench’s M explained in 2006’s Casino Royale – judge the situation “completely dispassionately” – making him a more effective field operative and therefore more likely to get both Madeleine and Mathilde to safety. Given Bond’s ruthless actions during the film’s dramatic climax, it’s reasonable to suggest that this policy paid off.
How Having A Daughter Changes James Bond
Although Bond’s real relationship with Mathilde is not confirmed until the film’s final moments, her presence and his suspicions nonetheless have a fundamental impact upon both his character and his behavior. This change is perhaps most evident during No Time To Die’s heartbreaking ending, in which Bond sacrifices himself in order to successfully destroy Safin’s facility. However, although Bond’s actions are undoubtedly heroic, it could be argued that things would have turned out differently had he not been aware of his connection to Mathilde.
A key moment during the movie’s ending comes when a stricken Safin injects Bond with nanobots programmed to kill both Madeleine Swann and anyone related to her. Naturally, this includes Mathilde. Despite several pleas for help to Q, it quickly becomes clear that there is no cure for the condition, meaning that if Bond goes anywhere near either Madeleine or his daughter, he will kill them. Similarly, because the nanobots spread through human contact, it’s inevitable that, eventually, they will find their way to his family. Therefore, the only way to truly keep both Madeleine and Mathilde safe is for Bond to sacrifice himself at the end.
Were it not for the existence of his daughter, it may well be that Bond would have reached a different conclusion about the necessity of killing himself. After all, over the course of the entire James Bond saga, the notorious secret agent has escaped from many situations that seemed infinitely more hopeless than his plight in No Time To Die. Therefore, it seems likely that the existence of his daughter (despite the denials of Madeleine Swann) may have been the crucial factor in persuading him to take the ultimate step. Not only does she provide an extra layer of narrative intrigue, but it also seems as though the introduction of a daughter is what makes No Time To Die such a definitive end to the Craig-Bond era.
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About The Author
Thomas Lethbridge (95 Articles Published)
After an eclectic career incorporating scuba diving, cheffing and teaching, Tommy eventually found his calling as a writer. With an early focus on food, he now specialises in all aspects of entertainment. Despite being a Lord of the Rings and Alien obsessive, his real passion is for truly terrible movies. He loves anything with a 0% Rotten Tomatoes rating and rarely passes up an opportunity to watch The Room. Tommy is based in London and joined the Screen Rant team in 2021.