In the film, when Bond hooks up with Q, his quartermaster, and the one that provides him with all the quintessential spy gadgets, James is sitting in the National Art Gallery in London. He is looking at a painting in particular, JMW Turner's "The Fighting Temeraire" (1838). The ship is shown making its last voyage before going up for salvage. Turner called this work his favorite, a kind of reflection on his own life.
HMS Temeraire, a 98-gun ship of the line, was launched in 1798, serving during the Napoleonic Wars on blockade duty, except for her brilliant involvement in the Battle of Trafalgar. So, she is dubbed "The Fighting Temeraire". She came to Nelson's flgship "Victory"'s rescue, and so, is ever remembered.
After her career was over, she was sold in 1838, and towed up the Thames to be broken up. The painting remains Britian's favorite, honored as such in 2005!
So why, is it included in the film, and discussed in the dialog between Q and Bond? Well, it is eluded to that Bond is portrayed as a man running out of time, and aging man-of-war, as it were. Modern methods are taking his place. Or are they?! That is the question! The new Q is portrayed as a very young man, a computer nerd of sorts, extremely intelligent, but as Bond offers, “Youth is no guarantee of innovation!” I love it! Without giving anything away, it becomes evident that Bond’s experience pays off!
The subtleties of art direction help make a film successful or not. When the details of furnishings, costume, color and location are correct, we seem to jump right into the film, become part of it. When they are not, we feel outside, just looking in, and our attention is not focused.
I will never look at the Fighting Temeraire the same way again. It means a great deal more now, and the wonderful thing is I know it's "new" home, and can visit it whenever I visit London!