M’s No Time To Die ending quote origin and James Bond history explored

Ralph Fiennes' M reads an affecting passage towards the end of the film. **WARNING: SPOILERS**

Skyfall

It seemed like the day would never come but No Time To Die is finally out in cinemas, with Daniel Craig bidding farewell to the role he has played since 2006.

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First reactions to the film have been overwhelmingly positive – including our own four-star No Time To Die review – and the spectacular final act, in particular, has come in for praise.

Towards the end of the film, we see Ralph Fiennes’ M reading a passage from a book and, if you’re wondering where those quotes come from, we’ve got you covered.

Read on for everything you need to know, but beware: there are major spoilers for No Time To Die ahead so only keep reading if you have already seen the film.

What are the quotes M reads at the end of No Time To Die?

If you’ve read this far, you’ll be aware that the climax of No Time To Die ends with James Bond’s death – shortly after he was infected with nanobots which meant he would be unable to touch Madeleine or his daughter Mathilde without killing them.

At the very end of the film, we get two scenes featuring characters paying tribute to 007: the second of the two sees Madeleine tell Mathilde all about him, while the first shows his MI6 colleagues raising a toast.

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In this scene, Ralph Fiennes’ M reads a small passage in Bond’s memory, which goes as follows: “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

If you’re wondering where that quote originates from, then the answer is American writer Jack London, whose work includes novels such as The Call of the Wild, White Fang and Martin Eden, the latter of which was recently turned into an acclaimed Italian film. The quote was first published in the San Francisco Bulletin in 1916 and later served as an introduction to a compilation of London’s short stories in 1956.

But what’s particularly interesting about the use of the quote here is that it is not the first time it has been used to described Bond. In Ian Fleming’s novel You Only Live Twice (which bears only a passing resemblance to the 007 film of the same name) there is a brief moment where the world thinks Bond has died and his obituary appears in the paper. The same London quote is used as an addendum to the obituary, supposedly added by his love interest Mary Goodnight.

In its original context, the quote is actually just the end of a longer passage, which reads in full: “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, ever atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

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No Time To Die is released in cinemas in the UK on 30th September – visit our Movies hub for more news and features, or find something to watch with our TV Guide.