The next James Bond film, which until recently had the working title Bond 22, now has a real title: Quantum of Solace.
At first glance, that doesn’t seem like much of a Bond title: it lacks the explicit references to living and dying of You Only Live Twice, Live and Let Die, A View to a Kill and The Living Daylights; it lacks the ostentatious displays of wealth implicit in Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever; it lacks the who-it’s-about or what-it’s-about factor of Casino Royale, Dr. No and Octopussy; it lacks the romanticism of From Russia with Love and The Spy Who Loved Me; it lacks the techno-threat secret-mission code-name quality of Thunderball and Moonraker; and it lacks the official bureaucracy implicit in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and For Your Eyes Only. And then there is The Man with the Golden Gun, which fits both the who-it’s-about and display-of-wealth categories, and may also fit the implicit-violence category.
All of those films took their titles straight from the books and short stories of Ian Fleming. And the films that didn’t use the titles of Fleming’s stories at least tried to sound like they did: Licence to Kill fits both the implicit-violence category and the official-bureaucracy category; Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day also fit the implicit-violence category; and GoldenEye, which took its name from Fleming’s vacation home, refers in the film to another techno-threat and also has a hint of the old display-of-wealth. Only The World Is Not Enough seems to stand out on its own — but those words happen to be the Bond family motto, as revealed in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, so that title, too, harks back to the existing James Bond canon.
If anything, Quantum of Solace sounds like the title of a pretentious arthouse flick about a lonely particle physicist. But it turns out the new title has more in common with the titles of the Connery and Moore films than it does with the titles of the Brosnan films on at least one level — because Quantum of Solace was the title of an actual James Bond story written by Ian Fleming.
Since the filmmakers did such a fine job of rebooting the series with Casino Royale, which was the first James Bond film to be named after an Ian Fleming story in almost 20 years, I admire the fact that they want to continue in a vein that at least pays homage to Fleming’s writings — but I’m having a hard time picturing the words “Quantum of Solace” on a marquee or hearing them breathlessly pronounced by perky entertainment reporters.
At any rate, I can’t help wondering now what other unused titles the producers might turn to for the next film. All of the novels written by Ian Fleming have been turned into movies already; and the handful of short-story titles that haven’t been used yet are either kind of awkward in their own way, or are connected to stories that have already been absorbed into other films:
- Risico — plot elements incorporated into the film version of For Your Eyes Only
- The Property of a Lady — plot elements and titular phrase incorporated into the film version of Octopussy
- The Hildebrand Rarity — plot elements incorporated into the film Licence to Kill
- 007 in New York — sounds too much like a song by Sting
Incidentally, I had to laugh when Xan Brooks of the Guardian wrote: “I pity whoever has to write the theme song.” But it’s quite possible for a Bond theme song to make no reference to the title whatsoever; just look at Octopussy, which featured Rita Coolidge’s ‘All Time High’, or Casino Royale, which featured Chris Cornell’s ‘You Know My Name’. So that’s not too big a problem.