Bond. James Bond. Those words are now synonymous with Ian Fleming's character, James Bond. The books were fantastic, and the character has been adapted to film many times to great success (for the most part). The recent films have gone back to the original source material for inspiration. However the character still remains true to the one we've seen over the past 20 odd films as well as some influence from the Jason Bourne series and modern thrillers. It's not a bad idea. However the character or rather character traits in the book are great, too. Sometimes I'm left wondering what happened to the suave, alcoholic, smoking, serial killer secret agent with mommy issues.
Now that's not to say those are good attributes. They aren't. At least most of them. really all but the suave part. However Bond in the Novels is basically a functioning psychopath. With his lust for sex, drugs, alcohol, and his ability to brutally kill people without any remorse. It goes deeper than that, but I'm not diving that far into Bond's psychology in this article. If you would like to know more I will include a link at the end.
James Bond is as integral to author Ian Fleming as Ian Fleming is to James Bond. One may not have existed or say lasted as long without the other. For Fleming, The world was never enough. He longed for action and thrills and never experienced them himself. The James Bond novels became his outlet. His escape from daily life to a more interesting place. For Fleming, The world was never enough. He drank to much, smoked several packs of cigarettes a day, and slept around even more. He was always seeking the action that James Bond experienced in the stories he wrote. For all intents in purposes, Ian Fleming IS James Bond. From his habits, His need to live an exotic life, right down to his charisma. Fleming's last recorded words were, "I am sorry to trouble you chaps. I don't know how you get along so fast with the traffic on the roads these days". Classic Fleming, Classic Bond. I would highly recommend checking out the James Bond documentary, "Everything or Nothing". It's a great film and provides you with the story behind James Bond and by extension, Ian Fleming.
With the most recent iterations of the James Bond character, The producers and people involved have done their best to stay true to the source material and update the series for the modern world as well. However, while the films are true to the character in tone, many of his habits and traits have been lost. As an example I will use Bond's smoking addiction. In the books as well as the older films, Bond would often be seen smoking cigarettes and cigars, similar to Fleming. It is a part of James Bond's character that is absent from the most recent films. There are many reasons why these traits/habits do not appear in the newest films. For one, no one want's big tobacco to get free advertisements. Everyone has the right to smoke if they would like to however these are not good company's. Check out John Oliver's piece on Tobacco company's to inform yourself on what they do. However that does not mean Bond shouldn't smoke in the movies. Second, Many feel they would not set a good example for children who see the movie. Now I won't bash this point. Ton's of people grow up idolizing the heroes they see in the movies and there is no doubt that many idolized and wanted to be James Bond. However the books were not written for that market nor were the films. Bond's character should not necessarily need to be made more easy to digest for modern movie going audiences. Like I said earlier, The character is essentially a legal serial killer. Not exactly a movie for the whole family. But no matter what, kids will see these movies and parents will allow them to watch. So should the character be allowed to smoke on screen? Should he be depicted as an alcoholic? You could argue that the original character was racist and that the character has been updated for modern times. Therefore the traits that originally made up the character are no longer needed because James Bond as a character has evolved. And if you keep one trait, should you have to keep all of them or can the creators pick and choose? If the producers wanted to update the character for modern times while also staying true to the source material, They could have Bond vape electronic cigarettes. However no matter what they do, the issue is the same. Has James Bond outgrown these character traits or are the producers changing the source material for mainstream audiences? whatever your opinion is, I would love to hear it.
Below is a poll as well as the links I promised to include in the article. Vote and share your opinion in the comments!
Last Week Tonight: John Oliver on Big Tobacco