by Ian Fleming
Are you prepared for a revelation that will change your life forever? Trust me, this is so shocking, so surprising, that it will alter the way you view reality for the rest of your earthly existence. I’ll type it at the start of the next paragraph. After that, there is no turning back. Are you ready? Read on.
Movies based on books are different from the books they are based on.
I know. Shocking, isn’t it? As faithful as, say, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was in the movies to its source material, it wasn’t the same thing. Those who watch Twilight shouldn’t claim to have read the book if they haven’t made the painful 400-page journey. The Two Towers is far, far different from the novel. Sadly.
The first Daniel Craig James Bond film and Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel do share a number of similarities. In fact, I was shocked at how faithful the fairly recent Bond film was to this book.
Bond having to gamble to win the earnings from a villain? Check. Bond resigning over a pretty girl? Check. Torture to make any man wince? Right down to a chunk of the dialogue. A long sequence showing Bond and said girl enjoying their time together after the action is seemingly complete? Check!
Of course, there are differences. Beyond the updates in the movie (shockingly, no one sends email in the original novel, published in 1952), the novel ends far earlier in the story than the movie. In case you’ve not seen the movie (or read the book): spoilers ahead.
The movie ends with a dramatic battle on a sinking building in Venice, where Bond fights for the life of Vesper, his love. During the fight, to protect James, Vesper effectively kills herself. In the novel, Vesper commits suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills at the hotel after a week with James. No huge fight scene. No sinking buildings. A quiet death, followed by a letter that explains she was a double agent and could no longer handle the guilt. The book ends with Bond denouncing her to M and vowing to get revenge on those who had forced Vesper to betray her country.
The book, generally, is quieter than the movie. There are exciting action sequences, to be sure, but they are not the focus as much as they are in the film.
I am very surprised at how clearly Fleming teaches the rules for Baccarat, the card game Bond uses to corner the villain. The biggest cosmetic change the recent movie made was the use of Texas Hold ‘Em instead of the classic card game; I understand why the change was made for lazy movie-going audiences, but Baccarat has a certain class that Poker simply doesn’t. After a brief chapter outlining the rules, I think I have a basic feel for the game. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’d be successful playing it, but I could at least attempt it. I would have to rent a tux before doing it, though.
Casino Royale is a great book. It’s not the movie; the two provide very different experiences. Enjoy the movie. Then pick up the book and enjoy that.