Monday, 13 June 2011

James Bond: licensed to travel

Jeffery Deaver’s Carte Blanche places James Bond in Serbia, then after briefly returning him to England, takes him to Dubai, followed by South Africa. Travel and exotic destinations was part of Ian Fleming's original novels, and Deaver follows the tradition. Deaver has said that the Bond of his novel is Fleming's Bond, and while I agree with this, in the case of exotic travel, he seems to have been influenced to a larger extent by the films.

One measure of the difference is the number of countries that feature in a book or film (though not necessarily visited by Bond). Let's examine the full-length novels first. Excluding England, the action of Casino Royale (1953) is set in just one country, France. In Live and Let Die (1954), it is two countries – the USA and Jamaica. In Moonraker (1955), no countries are featured, as the narrative is set entirely in England. No more than three countries ever feature in a Bond novel (unless one counts the incidental states that Bond travels through on the Orient Express in From Russia, with Love (1957)). Taken together, the average count of featured countries in a Bond novel is 1.83.

Turning to the films, Dr No, released in 1962, is
principally set in one country, Jamaica, and in this regard matches the novel. The next three films also match their respective novels. However, You Only Live Twice (1967) diverges from this pattern, as three countries are shown, compared with one in the novel. The film with the highest count is Diamonds are Forever (1971), with six, although a number of these are shown fairly fleetingly. Overall, the average count per film is 3.36.

There is another interesting observation to make. Looking at the chart showing the count of locations by film, there is a trend for a gradual increase in the count over time. The later films generally feature more countries than the earlier ones. This trend, or selection pressure, may be driven by the idea that Bond films must be globetrotting and show lots of exotic places. And with each film, that idea, or meme, is reinforced, which in turn pushes the number of countries upwards.

We see, then, that Carte Blanche's count of three countries is closer to the film average than that of the novels. A review of Carte Blanche in Private Eye (no. 1290) claimed that the James Bond of public imagination is that of the films. In terms of locations and travel, the filmic Bond is Deaver's Bond too.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like he had a very high carbon footprint that Mr Bond. Not good! Cheers Rachel


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