Baron Samedi is a fictional character from the James Bond novel and film Live and Let Die. In the novel, Baron Samedi is a voodoo figure with whom Mr. Big has chosen to identify himself with to inspire fear among his followers. In the film, he was a separate character and henchman to Dr. Kananga and a major antagonist. Samedi was portrayed in the screen by the late actor, dancer, choreographer and singer Geoffrey Holder.
In the novel Live and Let Die, Baron Samedi is described as the voodoo spirit of darkness and death. No such character appears in the novel, although many people in Harlem and elsewhere believe the novel's main villain, Mr. Big, to be a manifestation of Samedi himself or perhaps his zombie. Mr. Big encourages this beneficial belief by keeping a Baron Samedi totem near his desk.
Baron Samedi is perhaps the most enigmatic villain/henchman the cinematic Bond has ever faced. The character is an ambiguous one, and the audience cannot tell if he really is the Voodoo god Baron Samedi himself, or simply a mortal who has assumed Samedi's identity. Contributing to the mystery is the fact that Samedi seems to operate as an aide to Dr. Kananga aka Mr. Big, but is not entirely under his control. In one scene, for instance, as Kananga interrogates Solitaire (the film's main Bond girl), Samedi engages in an odd ritual of burning Solitaire's Tarot cards. The ritual seems to convey a sinister message to Kananga and Solitaire, and although it irritates Kananga, he refuses to put a stop to Samedi's card-burning.
Baron Samedi is first introduced as a so-called entertainer who does a voodoo dance act for tourists, fatly laughing multiple times, when Bond arrives at the island on which most of the action takes place. The announcer introduces Samedi as an "immortal", though obviously neither Bond nor the viewer seem to think much of it at the time.
While on the way to Kananga's heroin fields on San Monique, Bond and Solitaire stumble across a small abbey in the woods. There, Samedi, now without makeup, coat and hat, sits on a tombstone and greets the two. He gives the appearance of a friendly native, playing a flute and telling the couple he feels it is going to be a beautiful day for them. Bond and Solitaire continue their journey and after they are out of sight, Samedi warns Kananga with a radio built into his flute, telling the drug lord that "they're heading for the hill".
After Bond has been captured in New Orleans and been brought to the crocodile farm, Samedi, now dressed in a black suit, meets with Kananga while the latter confronts Solitaire for her betrayal as he wants to know why she betrayed him although he gave her everything and she lacked for nothing. She tells him that the cards foresaw it. Kananga angrily smacks the medium to the ground, telling her that in proper time he would have given her love and that she knew that. The villain says that there is only one appropriate way to deal with this betrayal, to which Samedi draws the tarot card 'Death', laughing maniacally. This is then followed by Kananga also declaring there is one proper time to administer it, and on cue, Samedi draws another tarot card, this one the card 'Midnight'.
Samedi is encountered again when Kananga orders Solitaire to be executed during a voodoo ceremony, a fate that befell Baines. Though it initially seems that Solitaire is to be killed by the bite of a poisonous snake, the henchman holding the snake backs of in the last moment. A man with a hat then approaches a tombstone nearby and leaves it on the grave. After two women drag on the tombstone with a machete three times and ring a bell, Samedi rises from the grave, with the hat on his head. Samedi blinks, indicating a go-ahead for killing Solitaire. At this point Bond reveals himself and shoots Kananga's henchmen, including the one holding the snake, before cutting the ropes holding Soltaire in place.
When shooting Samedi in the head, the head simply breaks. After shooting the body multiple times it becomes clear that it wasn't the real Samedi, but just a clay figure. After fighting more henchmen, another motionless Samedi rises from either another grave or the same one as the mannequin. Bond ignores him, deeming him another impostor, but Baron Samedi then opens his eyes widely and starts to laugh. He then takes the machete from the tombstone and engages Bond in a short fight, but Bond hits him in the stomach and knocks him back, causing Samedi to fall into the coffin full of poisonous snakes, where he is bitten multiple times. Eventually Samedi falls silent and does not move anymore, and Bond believes him dead.
Bond then uses the machete to hit the tombstone three times. It is revealed that the tomb in fact is a hidden elevator, which brings Bond and Solitaire down into Kananga's underground headquarters.
But at the very end of the film, at the point when Bond typically has achieved total victory in the Bond films, we seen Baron Samedi riding on the front of the speeding train carrying him and Solitaire, laughing demonically as the camera zooms in to focus on him while the credits start playing, further suggesting that he is in fact a supernatural character, a first (and so far only, besides Solitaire) for the Bond films.
Baron Samedi has never reappeared in any subsequent Bond film, unlike the henchmen Jaws and Mr. White or the main villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld (most likely because Samedi is inseparably connected to Voodoo and Bond never had to deal with this cult again), but neither has the series endeavored to solve the mystery of Samedi's nature. Since Samedi's last appearance was more than three decades ago, the mystery will likely remain unsolved.
Video game appearances
Samedi appears in The Duel as one of the cloned bosses in Stage 2.
In the video game, GoldenEye 007, Samedi appears as a boss in an unlockable mission separate from the main plot as well as the game's multiplayer. In the game, Bond is sent to the ancient el-Saghira temple in the Valley of the Kings in response to a letter sent by someone claiming to be Baron Samedi. Additionally, Samedi claims to have possession of Francisco Scaramanga's Golden Gun.
Bond is sent to retrieve the legendary weapon and defeat a cackling Baron a total of three times before completing the mission. In the cutscene that follows, Bond strides down a corridor of the temple with the Golden Gun in hand. Just as he is about to leave, Samedi emerges from the shadows and laughs. However, he can be killed a fourth time during the cut scene using a glitch, but this does not result in any new cut scene.
- In the video game Fur Fighters a character very similar to Samedi, known as Odebah Bear appeared as a mini boss.
- The character is inspired from the loa Baron Samedi, a popular Haitian Voodoo figure.
- A character in Shadowrun Returns uses the alias and and likeness of Baron Samedi.
- Geoffrey Holder, Samedi's actor, died in October 2014 due to pneumonia complications. Outside of Baron Samedi, he was also known as a voice actor, narrating a series of TV commercials for 7-Up, calling it "the un-cola", as well as the narrator for the 2005 film Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.
- In the videogame Saints Row 2. One of the gangs you feud with is called "The Sons of Samedi".
- In the 1997 video game Goldeneye 007, there is an unlockable stage that features Samedi. The Q briefing prior to the stage says that there will be no special gadgets from Q Branch as "I am afraid I have not yet invented anything that can counter the effects of voodoo, 007" whereas the M briefing says Bond will have no contacts, being entirely on his own as "this can't be a sanctioned MI6 mission, Bond. We could never justify to Parliament our agents chasing after ghosts and goblins. However, maybe you would care to take a vacation, to sunny El-Shagira, perhaps?"