I’ve written before about the difference between the James Bond of the movies and the one of the books, and why I prefer the latter. Time for another example.
Here’s how the movie version of Moonraker ends:
(Hey, my new blog allows embedded videos! The old one wouldn’t.)
And here’s how the original novel ends:
He looked up. She was standing a few feet away from him. He noticed that she was wearing a black beret at a rakish angle and that she looked exciting and mysterious like someone you see driving by abroad, alone in an open car, someone unattainable and more desirable than anyone you have ever known. Someone who is on her way to make love to somebody else. Someone who is not for you.
He got up and they took each other’s hands.
It was she who released herself. She didn’t sit down. … Her eyes were soft as she looked at him. Soft, but, he thought, somehow evasive. … She looked over his shoulder.
Bond turned round. A hundred yards away there was the tall figure of a young man with fair hair trimmed short. His back was towards them and he was idling along, killing time.
Bond turned back and Gala’s eyes met his squarely.
‘I’m going to marry that man,’ she said quietly. ‘Tomorrow morning.’ …
‘Oh,’ said Bond. He smiled stiffly. ‘I see.’
There was a moment of silence during which their eyes slid away from each other.
And yet why should he have expected anything else? A kiss. The contact of two frightened bodies clinging together in the midst of danger. There had been nothing more. … Why had he imagined that she shared his desires, his plans?
And now what? wondered Bond. He shrugged his shoulders to shift the pain of failure – the pain of failure that is so much greater than the pleasure of success. … He must get out of these two young lives and take his cold heart elsewhere. There must be no regrets. No false sentimentality. He must play the role which she expected of him. The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette.
She was looking at him rather nervously, waiting to be relieved of the stranger who had tried to get his foot in the door of her heart. …
He touched her for the last time and then they turned away from each other and walked off into their different lives.
I’m just sayin’ ….
Moonraker was obviously intended as a Star Wars rip-off. James Bond as Luke Skywalker. The ridiculous space battle with lasers is very funny, but not because it wants to be. The only Bond movie that matters is OHMSS, because it’s the only one where Bond is humanized to the point where he seems vulnerable and even scared. I should also put Casino Royale in there I guess. It almost qualifies.
Dr No also humanises Bond. Take, for example, the point when he has escaped being locked up and is crawling around the pipes of Dr No’s lair: He injures himself and gets grubby. Now compare to Pierce Brosnan adjusting his tie whilst under water in a boat! The latter, meticulous , the former, a human being. I still regard the first three Bond films, and the most recent Casino Royale to be the best.
aw, c’mon! interpersonal angst vs. sex in 0 gravity? Where are your priorities, man?