This is a review pf the original 2007 edition. No doubt it will be updated as more and more films are added to the canon. This edition thus has `Casino Royale', but not `A Quantum of Solace'. Only the EON productions are featured in this book.
After a foreword by Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the authors John Cork and Collin Stutz (compilers would be a better term) state that, "We have chosen to focus mainly on the world inside the Bond adventures, eschewing behind-the-scenes details in all but a few select areas." Indeed, it is the front of house that predominates, though not exclusively so. What follows consists mostly of A to Zs (hence `compilers'), but there are some opening essays.
The first addresses Fleming himself. We are told that, "No other writer influenced popular literature in the 20th century more than Ian Fleming." Ah well, Agatha Christie, John Tolkien, and the likes of Daphne du Maurier were obviously just second-raters, then. The essay includes references to Fleming's failure as an officer cadet and as a diplomat, but there is no mention of his cruelty and sadism.
In an essay entitled `the Bond Style' we learn how Bond's past has been manufactured and reconfigured on a number of occasions. Did you know that he is `actually' half-Scot/half-Swiss, and that he views with suspicion a man who uses a Windsor knot on his tie? Concise biographies of the six actors who have played the role to date follow. (By-the-way, a word to Moneypenny when she updates the file, Belper - the birthplace of Timothy Dalton - is not near Manchester, except in the sense that Chateau Neuf du Pape is near to Blossom Hill.)
But then comes the meat of this book, and its real usefulness. We have sixty pages of Bond Villains, a veritable A to Z from Adam, one of Mr Big's henchmen in `Live & Let Die' to (Max) Zorin, Mr Bad from `A View to a Kill'. Sixty pages of Bond villains are followed by thirty pages of Bond women, and then forty pages of supporting cast. For all of these characters, a photograph is provided to aid identification (I can now put a name to the face of Irma Bunt), and a description of their role and history is provided.
Then come more chapters on vehicles, weapons and equipment, but arguably the best part of this book is saved until last, when each movie receives a double-page spread that provides a concise overview of its gestation and production.
This encyclopedia is a mine of information and a perfect source for information both useful and arcane. For the Bond film fan, it is, I guess, a sine qua non: this book of Mr Cork and Mr Stutz, like the `bombe surprise' of Mr Wint and Mr Kidd, possesses fascinating ingredients.
on 10 September 2008
For over forty years the James Bond movies have thrilled audiences worldwide. The twenty-second, `Quantum in Solace', is currently being filmed with Daniel Craig, the sixth actor to don the mantle of the super-spy. This book is coffee-table size, a lavish compendium of almost everything you wanted to know about Eon Productions' James Bond films and their connection with the books that spawned them.
This encyclopedia has the official blessing of producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and the authors were given unprecedented access to a vast library of still photographs.
There's a double-page spread on Ian Fleming and each of the actors who have played Bond, all containing interesting insights, many unfamiliar. Then there are illustrated sections on the villains, the women, the supporting cast, the vehicles, the weapons and equipment - each character or item is backed up by a full-colour photograph from the archives. Every one of the 21 movies has a double-page spread, revealing fascinating facts about the filming schedule, the directors, the music, the credits and the problems encountered. Each entry is given a detailed write-up referencing the film plot or the book.
It's fascinating to read about the continual moving with the times for the storylines. No aspect of the books is overlooked - scenes or characters may be shifted but they're invariably utilised eventually, such as the shark eating Felix Leiter, which was moved from the book `Live and Let Die' to the film `Licence to Kill'.
Complete with its description, film appearances and user, every gadget or weapon is shown - the fiendish, the clever and the exotic. Cross references are intriguing, too: the mini-breather used in `Thunderball' was absently pulled out of Bond's drawer while he wrote his resignation letter in `OHMSS'. It's that kind of minor yet interesting detail which makes this book a pleasure to read; the authors have been thorough indeed. Where there's a divergence from the book in the film, it's mentioned.
While the main villains - Oddjob, Goldfinger, Dr Kananga, Rosa Klebb, Carver, Drax, Graves, Elektra King, Largo, Le Chiffre, Sanchez, Scaramanga, Zorin, Trevelyan, Blofeld, Renard and Dr No - get full-page coverage with plenty of never-before seen pictures, all of the other villains are identified, together with their characteristics, status (living or dead!) and the actor who played them. Even small part characters get a mention, for example the `three blind mice' killers at the beginning of `Dr No.'
Not only has Bond changed with each actor bringing something fresh to the part, but also some supporting cast have undergone transformations, whether that's the seven actors who have played Felix Leiter or the three actors who have played M and Moneypenny.
It may not appear cheap, but this book is certainly value for money. If you have enjoyed the films over the years, then this is the kind of book you will find yourself dipping into time and again. An outstanding production - just like the films, really.
on 31 December 2014
For the James Bond Fan who only wants one book covering the entire canon and who can't afford the beautiful but expensive James Bond Archives, this is the one to get.
The updated version even covers Skyfall.
Detailed, comprehensive, with lots of rare photographs and at a great price.
A definite five star must buy.