Bond film borrows name and little else

We can expect the latest James Bond movie to be the usual all-action epic with international plots, car chases, gunfire, sudden death and, of course, a beautiful Bond girl.

But the story behind the film has absolutely nothing to do with the 1960 Ian Fleming short story of the same name.

Only three words have been used from the original: Quantum of Solace.

The 20-page story, one of five in a collection grouped under the title For Your Eyes Only in 1960, is totally devoid of any violent action or direct involvement by 007.

It's purely a narrative relayed to Bond by the Colonial Governor of the Bahamas late at night, after a dinner party at his residence attended also by a visiting Canadian businessman and wife.

(Bond had gone to the Bahamas on an assignment to destroy two boats being used to arm Cuban rebels and before returning to London was invited to dine with the governor).

After the other guests had departed, Bond and his host relaxed over brandy and cigars. It was then the governor related the story of a romance between a shy British diplomat based in Bermuda and an attractive air hostess, and their marriage and subsequent breakup after she embarked on an open affair with an attractive local sports star.

The diplomat eventually dumped his wife, showing no sympathy (not even a quantum of solace) when she begged forgiveness. He left her virtually penniless but for a car and radiogram - both of which he still owed money on.

Eventually, the divorced wife moved to Jamaica, worked there as a hotel receptionist, then met and married a visiting Canadian businessman: the couple who had been that night's dinner guests.

In contrast, the film Quantum of Solace carries on Bond's adventures from 2006s Casino Royale, and for the first time in the series keeps the same main female character, played by Ukrainian model Olga Kurylenko.

The all-action tale is set in Italy, Austria, Haiti, Bolivia, Panama and Chile as Bond seeks out a villain bent on ousting Bolivia's head of state and taking over that nation's water supplies - all this while also seeking retribution for the death of Vesper Lynd, his previous love who had betrayed him in Casino Royale.

Two of the other four short stories in For Your Eyes Only have also been made into films bearing little resemblance to the originals: For Your Eyes Only made in 1981 - starring Roger Moore as 007 - bore the title of the second story in the book about Bond disposing of Cuban killers in Jamaica, but was based more on the fourth story, Risico, with 007 involved with Greeks in the illicit drugs trade.

Four years later came A View to Kill, Moore's final Bond film which had one word and a whole storyline less than the short story From a View to Kill.

While the book's plot followed Bond investigating the murder of a British army dispatch rider carrying Nato documents near Paris, the film had him foiling a bad guy's plans to destroy Silicon Valley in California.

The only tale untouched by film-makers in this book is The Hildebrand Rarety, name of a rare fish sought by an obnoxious rich American for the Smithsonian Institute - another non-secret agent story.

Fleming wrote 12 James Bond novels, from Casino Royale in 1953 to The Man with the Golden Gun in 1965. That was followed in 1966 by the publication of his second book of short stories under the title of the first of them, Octopussy.

The first few Bond films from the total of 22 produced by Britain's EON company - led by Dr No, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger - were generally faithful to Fleming's storyline.

But gradually the gimmickry, gadgetry, stunts and a phalanx of gorgeous Bond girls took over, with enhanced storylines about our hero foiling madmen seeking world domination.

A typical climax to subsequent movies saw Bond leading a mass assault on the villain's fortress, slaying his army of defenders and defusing, with seconds to go, an atomic device that would have blown everyone to bits.

Octopussy was a 1983 example of a film that took the book's title then ditched the storyline for one with more spectacular, if confusing, action - Octopussy was the name of the leading female character whereas in the book is was that of a poisonous octopus.

Leading American critic Leonard Maltin wrote that it throws in everything but the kitchen sink for the sake of an entertaining show, involving a rogue Soviet general, an Afghan prince, circus knife throwers, a Faberge egg and a nuclear bomb.

The film does have a brief reference in a flashback to incidents in the original short story which was about a British Army ex-officer living in Jamaica on money he made by selling Nazi gold ingots he had stolen late in World War II after killing an Alpine guide.

The officer was eventually killed by a poisonous scorpion fish and a pet octopus he had named Octopussy - after being told by Bond that he was to be arrested.

 

 

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