Characters: Book vs film

MI6HQMI6HQ SIS Building, London, United Kingdom
edited July 4 in Trivia & Games Posts: 1,629
While reading the books and watching the films, it's interesting to compare the characters in both film and book.
Just having this thought, since I still didn't know the consensus regarding each of the characters of who did it much better.
Are they better in the films, or their literary counterparts?
Of course, we're including James Bond (the character himself here).
So, here's the following characters that we're going to compare:

1. James Bond
2. M
3. Moneypenny
4. Felix Leiter
5. Bill Tanner
6. Blofeld
7. Le Chiffre
8. Vesper Lynd
9. Gettler
10. Mr. BIG
11. Solitaire
12. Quarrel
13.TeeHee
14. Hugo Drax
15. Gala Brand/Holly Goodhead
16. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd
17. Tiffany Case
18. Shady Tree
19. Rosa Klebb
20. Donovan 'Red' Grant
21. Tatiana Romanova
22. Ali Kerim/Kerim Bey
23. Dr. No
24. Honeychile Ryder
25. John Strangways
26. Goldfinger
27. Pussy Galore
28. Tilly Soames/Masterson
29. Jill Masterson/Masterton
30. OddJob
31. Milton Krest
32. Largo
33. Domino
34. Count Lippe
35. Horror/Jaws
36. Irma Bunt
37. Marc Ange Draco
38. Tracy Di Vicenzo
39. Ruby Windsor/Bartlett
40. Campbell
41. Sir Hillary Bray
42. Tiger Tanaka
43. Kissy Suzuki
44. Dikko Henderson
45. Francisco Scaramanga
46.Mary Goodnight

You can suggest for improvements in the comment section below.....😊

So we're starting none other than James Bond, the character himself, who's much better, his film version? Or his literary counterpart?

Comments

  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,693
    I'm not sure if any comparison can work. The books and films, apart from being different media, were produced in a different spirit too. Fleming wrote most of his books in the '50s, suffering from a nostalgic longing for the days when Britain ruled the world with glory and might. The films were made in the free-spirited '60s by two men who wanted to make good money off of them. Fleming came up with sharp, meaningful, witty, and useful characters; Cubby and Harry were looking for big, bold, and incredibly hot.

    The tragic Tiffany Case (which I can't seem to find in the list) was completely watered down to become an obnoxious parody of the "cunning woman". The sweet, motherly Mary Goodnight was spiced up on the outside but emptied on the inside for the film. Kissy could have come from Greek Myth for all I know in how she was willing to trick Bond into living a different identity with her feminine charms and her strategically used sex; but in the film, she feels absolutely redundant, merely another Aki (so why not keep Aki and get her to fake-marry Bond?)

    My point is that most characters weren't so much "adapted" (unless very, very loosely) but instead remoulded until their name and a bit of context is all that remained. There are notable exceptions, of course, like Vesper and Honey. ;-) But one thing that I've learned from reading the books many times over, is that a lot got lost in translation from book to film. (And I don't necessarily mean that as a bad thing, by the way.)
  • Jordo007Jordo007 Merseyside
    Posts: 1,695
    I think most of the characters translate well to screen, most are probably better in the novels but that's bias on my part.

    I'd argue Tracy and Vesper are far more captivating and enigmatic on screen than they were in the novels. That's mainly down to the actors performance

    Le Chiffre is better in the film, in my opinion, because you can really feel his desperation, which works well for the character. Great acting by Mads.
    I prefer Draco and Kerim Bey in films, they're quite faithful adapted, but they just come across as not only great allies but interesting people too in their films

    So glad they haven't used Gala Brand yet, when they do she should be Bond's next Vesper. I really enjoyed and sympathise with her character in the novel, hopefully they can improve her character but keep it faithful to Moonraker
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,693
    @Jordo007
    That's funny, I was thinking of Gala Brand as the next Vesper myself. Great minds and all that. ;-)

    The trick, as you rightfully point out, is to keep things faithful enough yet also adjusted enough to fit the medium of film, modern times and sensibilities, the new Bond and so on. I still see a lot of characters with great potential in the Fleming novels, unused so far. But I reckon it's not always that easy to translate them from book to film.
  • edited July 4 Posts: 1,122
    They're different mediums at the end of the day. There are certainly things in the novels that wouldn't fly in any cinematic adaptation, no matter when they were made.

    For instance, I'm not sure if a version of Kerim Bay would have played out as well onscreen if he'd revealed to Bond he once kept a sex slave chained under a table in his flat. Or a version of Draco who openly says he raped the Mother of his child.

    There are characters like Pussy Galore who just age better in films, the more 'questionable' or even illogical aspects of their characters changed. I personally think that character works better being a pilot for Goldfinger rather than the leader of a crime gang. In the film version she spends more time with Bond and the two are able to more believably form a relationship, which plays better when Galore eventually 'turns' and helps Bond by the end.

    Some are better in the novels though. Save for Michael Kitchen I don't think any screen version of Tanner has been anywhere near as interesting as Fleming's was. I think the Largo of the novel is a far more sinister and interesting character than the film version, and the literary Domino is also better in the book I think.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Das Boot Hill
    Posts: 45,399
    Bond is a far more interesting and believable character in the books.
  • Posts: 631
    It’s easy IMO to identify characters that are better in the books.

    I mean the characters in the books are just fantastic. I read From Russia, With Love recently and the characters almost burst out of the pages. Rosa Klebb. Tatiana Romanova. Kronsteen. Red Grant. Even the generals just sitting around the table in SMERSH headquarters have more personality than 99% of the characters in the movie.

    It’s much harder, I think, to identify the characters that are better in the films.

    I’m going to say that the movies did Oddjob and Goldfinger better than Fleming did.

    Scaramanga too.

    Drax, possibly.

  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    Posts: 1,617
    There is no way I could agree with Drax. To me, Fleming's Drax was one of the most well-drawn character in the series. Frightening and grotesque.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,693
    Birdleson wrote: »
    There is no way I could agree with Drax. To me, Fleming's Drax was one of the most well-drawn character in the series. Frightening and grotesque.

    He is the only villain whose obsession with winning at card was convincingly written, IMO. Goldfinger is a close second.
  • Jordo007Jordo007 Merseyside
    Posts: 1,695
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    @Jordo007
    That's funny, I was thinking of Gala Brand as the next Vesper myself. Great minds and all that. ;-)

    The trick, as you rightfully point out, is to keep things faithful enough yet also adjusted enough to fit the medium of film, modern times and sensibilities, the new Bond and so on. I still see a lot of characters with great potential in the Fleming novels, unused so far. But I reckon it's not always that easy to translate them from book to film.

    Absolutely mate. It'd be a lovely way to kick off a new era, with an unused original Fleming character too.

    I'm really pleased they didn't use just her name in Die Another Day, although when I read Moonraker I picture someone like Rosamund Pike ironically, I picture Brand being someone naturally pretty and very British
  • Posts: 1,122
    I will say, as much as I'm a fan of the Blofeld from FRWL - TB and Telly Savalas, I don't think any of the cinematic Blofelds have come close to the literary character. I always say he's rather like Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories - a character always touted as the ultimate nemesis of our hero, and yet he only appears in a handful of stories. Another problem with Blofeld is that he's such an unfixed character. Not only does his appearance constantly change throughout the novels, but his personality shifts in a sense too. We first see him as this opportunistic villain in TB, a man seemingly motivated by money alone. Of course, we get a whiff of him in OHMSS and his ego with his attempts to gain the Count title, and by the time we get to YOLT he's a full on narcissist with the belief he's some sort of 'Great Man'. It's not something we've ever quite seen fully depicted in the films, but it's so central to the character, that sense that the more he loses, the deeper into that God Complex-laden insanity he falls into.

    I hope we get a truly great adaptation of the character onscreen, but I accept it's not easy. Like I said, Savalas and the unseen Blofeld of the first films came closest, although weren't 100% for me. Even going from the illustrations by the great George Almond, I've never felt anyone's ever been able to bring the character to life.

    tumblr_nv7r3fBjHO1tgh17uo1_1280.jpg
  • MI6HQMI6HQ SIS Building, London, United Kingdom
    edited July 5 Posts: 1,629
    007HallY wrote: »
    I will say, as much as I'm a fan of the Blofeld from FRWL - TB and Telly Savalas, I don't think any of the cinematic Blofelds have come close to the literary character. I always say he's rather like Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories - a character always touted as the ultimate nemesis of our hero, and yet he only appears in a handful of stories. Another problem with Blofeld is that he's such an unfixed character. Not only does his appearance constantly change throughout the novels, but his personality shifts in a sense too. We first see him as this opportunistic villain in TB, a man seemingly motivated by money alone. Of course, we get a whiff of him in OHMSS and his ego with his attempts to gain the Count title, and by the time we get to YOLT he's a full on narcissist with the belief he's some sort of 'Great Man'. It's not something we've ever quite seen fully depicted in the films, but it's so central to the character, that sense that the more he loses, the deeper into that God Complex-laden insanity he falls into.

    I hope we get a truly great adaptation of the character onscreen, but I accept it's not easy. Like I said, Savalas and the unseen Blofeld of the first films came closest, although weren't 100% for me. Even going from the illustrations by the great George Almond, I've never felt anyone's ever been able to bring the character to life.

    tumblr_nv7r3fBjHO1tgh17uo1_1280.jpg

    Is it safe to say that Safin at least got this sense? I think the potential was really there, he's a bit close to how Fleming wrote Blofeld based on the descriptions that you've put here (particularly the part that I've highlighted).

  • Posts: 1,122
    MI6HQ wrote: »
    007HallY wrote: »
    I will say, as much as I'm a fan of the Blofeld from FRWL - TB and Telly Savalas, I don't think any of the cinematic Blofelds have come close to the literary character. I always say he's rather like Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes stories - a character always touted as the ultimate nemesis of our hero, and yet he only appears in a handful of stories. Another problem with Blofeld is that he's such an unfixed character. Not only does his appearance constantly change throughout the novels, but his personality shifts in a sense too. We first see him as this opportunistic villain in TB, a man seemingly motivated by money alone. Of course, we get a whiff of him in OHMSS and his ego with his attempts to gain the Count title, and by the time we get to YOLT he's a full on narcissist with the belief he's some sort of 'Great Man'. It's not something we've ever quite seen fully depicted in the films, but it's so central to the character, that sense that the more he loses, the deeper into that God Complex-laden insanity he falls into.

    I hope we get a truly great adaptation of the character onscreen, but I accept it's not easy. Like I said, Savalas and the unseen Blofeld of the first films came closest, although weren't 100% for me. Even going from the illustrations by the great George Almond, I've never felt anyone's ever been able to bring the character to life.

    tumblr_nv7r3fBjHO1tgh17uo1_1280.jpg

    Is it safe to say that Safin at least got this sense? I think the potential was really there, he's a bit close to how Fleming wrote Blofeld based on the descriptions that you've put here.

    I've always said that if Safin had been given some of Blofeld's dialogue from YOLT it would have gone a long way to making him a more effective character. Blofeld talks a lot about being 'a poor boy taking toys away from the rich boys' when referring to his scheme in TB, and he justifies the Garden of Death by saying it's some sort of public service for those who don't want to live. He even says that his biological warfare plan from OHMSS would have had the benefit of people banding together in dire circumstances, as if they were in the War (I think he refers to Britain as a sick nation anyway).

    The problem with Safin is that while those vague ideas are there, the last act of the film is a bit iffy in how it presents them for me. Why is he now manufacturing these nanobots after getting revenge? Has he gone completely mad? It's not even clear who he's selling the nanobots to. Personally, I think the script should have been rejigged to make clear that there are still remaining former SPECTRE agents out there (whose DNA was not programmed into the nanobots during the Cuba massacre), and Safin plans to release them onto the population to target these individuals. This of course would have the consequence of killing the innocent relatives of these people, not to mention the idea that the technology could end up in anyone's hands.
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