Tuesday, August 23, 2011

James Bond

BOND by RM73
An interesting article by Terence Bowman popped up on Den of the Geek today. It looks at the differences between literary characters and their film counterparts. In this post we'll look at Ian Fleming's 007, James Bond.

As a kid I remember discovering James Bond through my dad. He being a fan of the films guaranteed that I was going to be a fan, too. We even went to A View To A Kill in the theater!

Over the years I eventually saw films and appreciate them for what they are. However, getting into the Fleming novels AND gaining a perspective from film and video school revealed just how bad they really are. I believe that if you want to continue to like the Bond films, you must stay away from the novels.
James Bond author Ian Fleming once described Sean Connery, the first actor to play 007 on the big screen, as "a Glaswegian lorry driver who mangles my character". Many Fleming fans might be inclined to agree with that sentiment, though their issues may not lie solely with Connery.
The 1959 novel Goldfinger, for instance, opens with Bond sitting in a bar in Miami Airport. He’s just flown back from Central America, where he has just carried out an assignment to kill a drug dealer who was working for the Communists. As he sits there, Bond reflects on his deadly deeds in the line of duty. His internal musings on the nature of his dark and often brutal occupation depict a man questioning his own morality and place in the world. Fleming's writing in this part of the book is almost poignant in its existentialism.
Cut to the corresponding opening scene in the movie, Goldfinger. Connery, as Bond, on a similar mission, emerges out of a lake with a plastic duck on his head. He then takes off his wet suit to reveal that he is wearing a perfectly dry tuxedo underneath. Nothing can describe the difference between the Bond novels and the Bond films better than that comparison.
Described by Fleming as a “blunt instrument” rather than a hero, the literary Bond bore only a passing resemblance to his cinematic counterpart. Bond was a cool, detached and efficient killer in the service of his country, hence the term, “Licence to kill”. He rarely uttered a joke or a witty one-liner, least of all in regard to someone that he had just killed.
The actors that followed Connery in the role of Bond strayed to and from Fleming in varying degrees. Roger Moore played a highly camp character that happened to have the same name as Ian Fleming’s Bond. Timothy Dalton took over the role in 1987's The Living Daylights, and is often denigrated by critics as one of the worst Bonds ever. Ironically, Dalton is lauded by fans as one of the best. They see him as the only actor who truly brought the spirit of Fleming’s 007 to the role.
Pierce Brosnan took over the cinematic Bond mantle in GoldenEye in 1995. Brosnan's interpretation was something of a compromise between the lighter Bond of Connery, Lazenby or Moore, and the darker Bond of Fleming and Dalton.
Finally, Casino Royale, the Bond reboot of 2006 starring Daniel Craig as 007, brought back a darker Bond, even though he still wasn’t entirely based on Fleming’s work. Craig and the franchise both used Fleming, and at the same time did their own thing with the character. The result seemed to finally satisfy both fans and mass audiences alike.

This article strikes a cord with me. I prefer the original concept of the character over the various film versions.

As for the films, I really enjoy the music mainly. And the traditions that have stayed with the franchise throughout. I am enjoying the latest two films and hope to see more like them (especially the last one, Quantum of Solace- I think I'm the only person on Earth that liked it better than Casino Royal!).

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