Bond films: Does ‘Fleming content’ matter anymore?

Some guy who had something to do with James Bond

I watched an entertaining video about the future of James Bond films. One of the issues it raised was do we really want to rehash Ian Fleming’s original texts anymore.

Go to the 12:19 mark of this video:

An excerpt:

I also know there are a lot of Bond fans out there who want to see them go back to the Ian Fleming source material and do super-faithful adaptations of those books. This is something I’m really unexcited about. Largely, I feel because I feel a good chunk of those books have already been adapted quite faithfully.

As noted in the video, Goldfinger’s screenplay improved upon Fleming’s novel. Also, check out the comments section of the video.

Regardless, Ian Fleming (1908-1964) has been dead longer than he was alive. Sherlock Holmes has gone on far longer than his creator Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). In that regard, Bond and Holmes have something in common.

To be clear, I know the creator of the YouTube video. He’s a great guy and he produces wonderful Bond-related videos.

Also, for the sake of clarity, I have done an article updated three times that attempted to put a value on the “Fleming content” of the Eon film series.

Finally, for a character to be long-lived, that character goes beyond his or her creator. Holmes and Tarzan fall into the category. Others, not so much.

Bond is approaching his 60th anniversary as a film character. Changes take place.

Once upon a time, Batman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Batman is a lot different than those days. But the Finger-Kane imprint still is present. And Batman is one of the most popular characters in the world.

The same thing may be happening with Bond.

4 Responses

  1. THAT is a really, really good question. I’ll have more on this later {:)

  2. Both Batman and James Bond are currently due to enter the public domain at the same time – 2035. 95 years after the first comic and 70 years after Fleming’s death. Superman is two years before that, Captain America a year after. The serialised nature of the comics means that not all their associated elements will enter public domain at the same time, but all Fleming’s associated creations will be fair game, as Holmes’ stories are.

    The release of those characters from a single estate will allow a determination of their true longevity.

    However, you’re going to get some interesting legal cases, because EON can claim copyright on their elements. Q doesn’t appear in the novels; Major Boothroyd does, but he’s never called Q.

  3. Nice piece – I like the Holmes reference as well – our show, Cracking the Cod eof Spy Movies, did a podcast entitled, James Bond is to Spies What Sherlock Holmes is to Detectives – it’s a fun one. Fleming, I think, would be surprised by some of the Bond stuff now. And maybe not plesantly.

  4. I feel conflicted about this question. Ultimately without Fleming’s work the film series wouldn’t be what it is today. Casino Royale, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Dr No are three of my favourite Bond films and are relatively faithful to the books. There has been a notable amount of Fleming in most of the recent films. However, I also love Bond films such as The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies, which owe relatively little to the literary Bond – but are great, entertaining thrillers. My main concern though is the idea of Bond being treated as a period piece – I remember all the coverage in the 1990’s when people questioned that something so rooted in the 1960’s really had a place in the modern world. To be a mainstream film series the films would need to a large extent reflect modern sensibilities – so its questionable how close the films could stick to many aspects of the books. For me half the fun of the Bond movies is to see how they evolve to reflect the era they were made, and how they ebb and flow between the more serious grounded films and those that are more humorous and fantastical. I don’t believe they should retread the same ground too closely, but the films still need to be respectful to some extent of the Fleming texts and indeed the earlier films in the series. I guess in summary it’s a question of balance. Good to hear your thoughts on the NTTD watch along Bill.

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