A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Quantum of Bond

James Bond fans all over the world are eagerly waiting the release of the next film of the Bond franchise, “A Quantum of Solace”. I am looking forward to it since I have heard some tidbits about the film itself. It is being prepared as a sequel to the last Bond cinematic adventure, “Casino Royale”. Also, I am curious how they will wring an entire adventure from it given the source material.

“A Quantum of Solace” is an Ian Fleming short story, in which our hero is fighting off boredom at a dinner party given by the governor of Bermuda. After the last guests have departed, the governor relates a story about a career diplomat who had served Her Majesty’s government on the island some years before. During the course of his tenure on the island, the diplomat fell in love, married, and saw his love repaid when she openly had an affair with a younger man. When the affair ended and the young wife sought to return to the diplomat, she got a very cold reception. Her husband had fallen so out of love with her that he could not be civil to her while the marriage was dissolved in the courts. They lived under the same roof, but he would have nothing to do with her; hence the title of the story.

There is a twist at the end, but that sums up the story. Yes, that’s it! No chases, no intrigue, no explosions, no madman holed up on some God-forsaken rock in the middle of the ocean...nothing! Yet this will be our next James Bond film!

I suppose Fleming intended this story to be more about Bond’s misogynistic attitude than any conflict he had to resolve. From Bond’s point of view, I can see where he might use the lesson of the story to confirm his bachelor lifestyle. There, see what happens when you have a romantic entanglement with a woman! Who needs it, he might have reasoned. Otherwise, I am at a lose as to this short story’s place in the Bond canon.

As for the producers of the film franchise, it is business as usual: they have been performing sleight of hand tricks with the Bond stories for decades. The first few films were very faithful to the novels (more or less): "Dr. No", "From Russia With Love", and "Goldfinger". Then, beginning with "Diamonds Are Forever", the films began a slow journey away from the original stories and gradually added new elements as each new adventure made it to the big screen. Films like "Moonraker" and "The Spy Who Loved Me" took only the story titles and built entire new plots on top of them. These didn’t resemble the Fleming stories at all.

The same could be said for "The Man with The Golden Gun", "For Your Eyes Only" fact, all of the Roger Moore Bond films. Don’t get me wrong, all of these films were exciting adventures, but Fleming would never have recognized them if he had lived. "Octopussy" is truly bizarre. It uses the short story of the same name as a back story in the film, then borrows a plot device (counterfeit Faberge eggs) from the short story “Property of a Lady”. The Timothy Dalton/Pierce Brosnan Bonds are all good, but they all have new, original plots that bore no relation to the stories written by Fleming, John Gardner, or Raymond Benson.

Some enterprising college student could write an entire masters thesis on how all of the literary Bond stories were transferred to celluloid. I could go on, but the story cannot be fully explained without an intricate flow chart and lots of patience. Unfortunately, I have neither. So I will leave this task to a masters candidate somewhere to tell the tale. In the meantime, we will have a new Bond film to see soon. While it is unfortunate that we may run out of the original Bond source material soon, it is fortunate that the producers are imaginative enough to keep the franchise going for years to come. And I’m okay with that!


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