Shaken…

I have just re-read A Quantum of Solace. By which I mean to say, I have just re-read the short story by Ian Fleming upon which the forthcoming Bond film is apparently based. Said story is contained within the collection, For Your Eyes Only, which I last read a year or more ago, and I must confess I had little recollection of what A Quantum of Solace was all about, except to say that, at 25 pages, it was one of Fleming’s shorter stories, and it had very little substance in terms of the kind of high-octane action we have come to expect from 007 – in the books as well as in the films. So I decided to re-read it, in order to reacquaint myself with it in preparation for the forthcoming film. As expected, it was indeed the kind of action-less tale I vaguely recalled, and as such it stirred in me a substantial curiosity with respect of how it would translate into a Hollywood-esque film. If you have not had the pleasure of reading the story, I will herewith provide a précis of its main points…

Bond is at a dinner party with government bods in Nassau, The Bahamas. He is bored. He hates the soft sofa upon which he is uncomfortably sat, and he finds the conversation of the rich set in which he has found himself unavoidably mingling amongst intolerably banal. At one point in a conversation with “the Governor,” he comments on how, if he ever got married, he would like to marry an airline hostess… knowing full well that he has no interest in getting married and indeed “boring himself with his own banality.” The Governor asks him why, and Bond goes on to explain, with an utter lack of enthusiasm, how he would like to be waited on and have an attractive lady on hand who is always willing to please and so forth. The Governor then proceeds to relate to Bond an account of someone he knows in the Service who had indeed married an air hostess and it had, in a nutshell, gone horribly wrong – involving infidelity, rejection and, ultimately, a final act of cruelty on the part of the injured party (that being the man who had married the air hostess). During this account, the Governor has put forward to Bond a theory he has – the Law of the Quantum of Solace – that in any relationship, as long as “some kind of basic humanity exists between the two people,” any difficulty can be overcome. That “basic humanity” had utterly dissolved between the man and his air hostess wife, thus leaving the man with no compunction about rejecting his wife with an utterly pitiless finality. Bond, in the end, found this little true story surprisingly interesting, and decides that he “must pay more attention to people.”

Can you see why my curiosity is piqued? How can a “Bond Film” be formed out of the above? I suspect perhaps that the central premise of such will be the theory – the Law of the Quantum of Solace – around which a narrative possibly entirely dissimilar from that of the written story will be constructed; maybe throwing in just a few elements that connect these disparate media – the fact that the “dinner party” is ostensibly related to arms dealing in Cuba, for example. My curiosity is shaken! It is stirred! Perhaps, in a reversion in style to something far more homely and Christie-esque, the film of A Quantum of Solace will indeed be centred on a dinner party in Nassau…

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