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A low key adaptation
on 2 October 2012
I read all the Bond books as a young teenager, and I loved them for their mix of glamour, action and adventure - and of course, Bond himself - sexy, charismatic, a good guy with the dangerous aura of the bad guy... OHMSS was always my favourite, as it showed Bond as a more rounded character, thoughtful and loving, who is the redeemer and who is redeemed in his turn.
This production is very stripped down - no effects, no background music, just David Tennant's steady reading. And this allows one to focus on the quality of Fleming's writing, and on his underrated way with words - he wasn't a hack churning out airport novels, he really could WRITE. The films - whilst excellent in their own way (mostly) really do Fleming a disservice, focussing as they do on the set pieces and stunts. Here Bond is the average Britisher abroad, worried about money, unhappy with the food, and vaguely uneasy about the splendour on display. And he is definitely British - one of my cavils is that David Tennant is reading this in a vaguely English accent, not his more attractive and warmer native Scots brogue.
Tennant reads the book, rather than acting it out - and whilst this is excellent for highlighting the quality of the writing (as I've said), it doesn't really convey the excitement, danger and menace of Bond. He could be an accountant or teacher, rather ordinary and everyday - not a glamorous gambler, playboy or spy. Even the famous car race between Bond and Tracy as read by Tennant could have been a description of a pensioner's Sunday afternoon jaunt in Surrey.
It passes the time, but unless I was really focussing on it, I wasn't drawn in like I wanted to be.