Hugo Drax

Hugo Drax
Hugo Drax

Hugo Drax (who has the honorary title of “Sir” in the novel) is a fictional character created by author Ian Fleming for the James Bond novel Moonraker. Fleming named him after his friend, Sir Reginald Drax. For the later film and its novelization, Drax was almost entirely changed by screenwriter Christopher Wood. In the film, Drax is portrayed by French actor Michael Lonsdale. In both versions of Moonraker, Drax is the main antagonist.

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Film biography

Background

In the film adaptation, Hugo Drax is a billionaire living in California in a château that was imported brick-by-brick from France. He owns Drax Industries, which constructs space shuttles. In addition, Drax supposedly owns the Eiffel Tower, but apparently couldn’t export it from France because they wouldn’t issue him an export permit. Drax portrays himself as an accomplished pianist, as evidenced by his recital of Chopin’s “Raindrop” Prelude in D flat major (op. 28) on his grand piano (which he plays in the key of D); in fact, he poses at a player piano in an attempt to impress his guests.

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“Look after Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him.”

― Drax orders Chang to kill Bond.[src]

An example of the Drax character’s ruthlessness as portrayed in the film is given by the manner in which he disposes of enemies. In one case, after discovering that his personal pilot Corinne Dufour had assisted Bond in discovering his plans, Drax fires her and proceeds to set his trained dogs on her. The Beaucerons chase her into a forest on the estate and kill her.

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Scheme

At the start of the film James Bond is sent to investigate the mid-air theft of a space shuttle on loan to the United Kingdom by Hugo Drax. Starting at The Drax Estate in California, he follows a trail of evidence around the world to Italy, Brazil and finally into space; uncovering Drax’s scheme.

In a scheme similar to that of Karl Stromberg, Drax sought to destroy the entire human race except for a small group of carefully selected humans, both male and female, that would leave Earth on six shuttles (the stolen shuttle was taken to replace another with faults) and have sanctuary on a space station in orbit over Earth. Using a chemical weapon derived from the toxin of a rare South American plant, the Black Orchid, he would wipe out the remainder of humanity. The biological agents were to be dispersed around the earth from a series of 50 strategically placed globes, each containing enough toxin to kill 100 million people while the toxin itself would have no effect on animal and plant life. Once the toxic contamination had cleared, Drax’s ‘perfect physical specimens’ would return to Earth and repopulate the planet.

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Bond obtained a sample of the chemical agent at Drax’s secret laboratories in Venice, and an analysis of it led him to a remote part of the Brazilian rain-forest. Here he discovers a shuttle-launch facility amid the ruins of an ancient civilization. 007 and his companion, CIA agent Dr. Holly Goodhead, commandeer one of Drax’s space shuttles and blast off to the orbiting space station. There they enlist the help of Jaws, who defects to Bond’s side when the spy subtly tricks Drax into admitting that he and his new girlfriend didn’t fit the ‘standards’ of physical perfection. Shortly after, a group of American space marines storm the station with Bond’s help.

 

Death

Sensing failure, Drax runs for the airlock with Bond in pursuit. Drax turns and faces 007, edging slowly backwards towards the airlock door. Suddenly he crouches and snatches a laser pistol from a body lying on the ground.

Hugo Drax: “At least I shall have the pleasure of putting you out of my misery. Desolated, Mr. Bond?”

James Bond: “Heartbroken, Mr. Drax. Allow me. Take a giant step for mankind.”

―Hugo Drax and James Bond[src]

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With Bond now held at gunpoint, the spy slowly raises his hands in an apparent gesture of surrender. The motion triggers a concealed dart gun strapped to his wrist and Drax is shot in the heart with a poison-tipped dart. As he gasps for breath, Bond escorts him into an airlock and ejects him into space. Only three globes had been launched when the station was destroyed, taking with it the threat from the other 47 globes. Bond and Goodhead hunted the remaining three using Drax’s personal shuttle, putting an end to his scheme of mass destruction.

 

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