Continuity and Casino Royale

Short answer to continuity questions: There is none.

This came up yesterday. I was discussing Casino Royale with a rare fan: The kind who didn’t like Casino Royale. (And you know I absolutely adore fans with unusual opinions.) And one of her complaints was that the whole “prequel” idea didn’t work for her. She complained that Bond having been in love in the beginning of his career diminished his relationship with Tracy; that the whole premise of OHMSS is that it was Bond’s first love.

So, first of all I think if you feel that way you need to acquaint yourself with the novels. And second, I don’t believe a great and deep and tragic love is diminished by the notion that there was a love before it.

But more importantly, I have to correct this fan: Casino Royale is not a prequel.

A prequel is a story that jumps backwards in a continuity sequence to tell a story that happened in the past; often the first or “origin” story.

A reboot is a story that wipes clean the slate of previous continuity; all other stories are gone and never existed. Batman Begins is a reboot; it is not the story of Batman before he encountered Jack Nicholson as the Joker: It’s Batman fresh and new who never existed before.

Casino Royale is a reboot. There is no Tracy assumed or foreshadowed in Bond’s future when Bond meets Vesper (and I doubt they’ll ever write a Tracy). This is a brand new character. The other 20 official movies are self-contained, from Dr. No to Die Another Day, that continuity (such as it was) is over. I honestly don’t know why fans hook on continuity in Bond films, since it was always virtually non-existent. But there you are.

A major flaw of Casino Royale, I’d say, is that this was not made clearer to fans. Maybe this isn’t a flaw of the movie so much as of the marketing campaign. That, a year later, people still discuss the movie as a prequel means that someone at Sony didn’t do a good enough job.

So, for the record, there is no continuity between Casino Royale and any previous Bond film. And in a number of ways, that’s a great thing, but let me point one out that I don’t think has been mentioned before: The erasure of continuity means they can do it right this time, there can be continuity from CR to Bond 22, from 22 to 23, and so on. And that just might be really cool.

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10 Responses to “Continuity and Casino Royale”

  1. Zippertuck Says:

    Good to have you back!

    First of all I have to somewhat agree with the person you were in a discussion with – I didn’t particularly like CR either. The first half was way too action packed for my Bond tastes. As you may remember I love the novels and explosions and chases and fight after fight is not what I would call Flemingesque. The second half of the movie was great! Far more intriguing, far more Flemingesque and far more old school spy. Although I do question having Vesper killed rather than her committing suicide and being a double agent. If I could forget the first half of CR and just rate the second half I would probably give it 5 stars, but otherwise I give it 3. This explains my question from several weeks ago wondering whether or not you believe that CR would drop on fan lists as time passes and people get a proper perspective on it.

    As for viewer confusion in regards to CR I totally understand. Unless you are a hardcore Bond freak there was no indication from Sony that CR was a reboot. I would tend to believe most casual viewers would believe it was a prequel since it was based on the very first bond novel. It can be very confusing and no one did a very good job in educating audiences. I would suspect though that they kind of wanted to keep this on the down low since it could outrage the casual viewer. Although as you state continuity has never been a strong suit for the Bond films and at this point virtually impossible to keep up. Hopefully they can make sure we have a better idea of what is going on in the next film. Now that this is established as a reboot and they have the opportunity to do things right, do you think they will or do you think they will mess up continuity like they did originally? Meaning do you think they will keep the same actors playing the same characters or do you think they will recast characters if a certain actor isn’t available? For instance it would be nice to have the same Felix for a few films, unlike pretty much all the rest.

    So Bond can only have one love? What’s up with that belief? I have had several loves in my lifetime and none ever diminished the importance of the next. In fact I would say that every love has improved the love of the next. I would think the same is true of Bond. Besides Bond in the novels while getting around pretty much fell in love all the time!

  2. Deborah Lipp Says:

    I agree with most of what you say, and I do agree that CR will diminish in fan surveys, but not by a lot. I still think it’s a great movie. Now that you have my book, you know I count explosions, and CR is much, much less explosive than any Bond movie of the Brosnan era; that’s one sign that it’s more old school, more Flemingesque.

    Vesper did kill herself; one of the movie’s flaws is that it was done in a confusing way, but she drowned herself on purpose, locking herself into the elevator to keep Bond from saving her.

    I think that the Bond franchise has to be more respectful of continuity now. A demand for continuity in TV and movie franchises is a relatively new thing; thirtysomething (1989-1993) is one of the first shows I remember that paid attention to it, bringing back the same actors in later seasons as people’s parents, remembering their familial history, and so on. But nowadays, people demand it and check it and write letters, so they’re under much more pressure to toe the line.

  3. Zippertuck Says:

    I am needing to go back in see CR again, but the first half left me wanting something different. I simply didn’t like the chase through the construction site (far too Bourneesque and bordering on the superhero Bond that I dislike) and the airport chase left me grounded. Loved the second half though. Totally forgot about the drowning. Really need to go back for second look.

    Continuity is very important and I do hope they are much more mindful of it. I also hope they continue the seriousness of the stories and veer away from the hokey, cheese ball humor which invaded far too many of the Bond outings. A comic touch is nice to ease the burden of a serious scene, but too much undermines the total effect. I really hope they embrace the reboot and continue to target what has been lost in the franchise. That aspect alone makes up for the first half of CR for me. The fact that they finally tackled CR is promising since it is possibly the least action packed Bond novel.

    Any news about the next movie’s plot?

  4. Deborah Lipp Says:

    If you click the category to the right, “Bond 22,” you’ll find all the news I posted. Mr. White is back.

    Also, Paul Haggis has turned in the finished script (in order to get it in ahead of the scriptwriter’s strike).

  5. Matt Schares Says:

    I think that some of you are missing the point. The Bond films were always set in the present day, with present day issues pervading the subplot of the story. Casino Royale can be seen as a prequel in this sense, because it does tell his origins. Yes it might mess up the technological timeline of the franchise, but Bond as a character really hasn’t aged much over the course of the films, indicating that the missions happend in quick rapid succession rather than over the span of 45 years.

  6. Deborah Lipp Says:

    Matt, I agree that there can’t be any of the sort of continuity that one might expect from something like Star Trek or Star Wars. Fans have grown to expect and pay attention to continuity over the years, as I wrote, this is relatively new. Bond isn’t a continuing story, he’s a mythological hero having adventures.

  7. Paul Wiklund Says:

    you know, given that Casino Royale is a reboot, and not a remake, I don’t feel so bad. Still, though, I would have appreciated seeing period cars from the time of the original Casino Royale. I thought that it would have lent the movie more depth (though, at the time, I thought it was a remake, to replace the original Casino Royale).

  8. Deborah Lipp Says:

    Well, 1953 cars are always gratifying, but I can’t complain about the 1964 Aston Martin.

  9. Max Pemberton Says:

    My only problem with the continuity and reboot questions is the presence of Judi Dench. It really throws a spanner in the works as far as CR disassociating itself from the previous Bond movies. A totally new actor as M would have made the transition clearer for moviegoers. This was a golden, and much needed, opportunity to relaunch Bond afresh, and to drag along some old baggage (nothing personal Dame Judi!) from the previous films was unnecessary and detrimental to the integrity of the film.

  10. Max Pemberton Says:

    My only problem with the continuity and reboot questions is the presence of Judi Dench. It really throws a spanner in the works as far as CR disassociating itself from the previous Bond films is concerned. This was a golden opportunity to relaunch Bond afresh, and was much needed, but to drag along old baggage (nothing personal Dame Judi!) from the previous films was unnecessary and detrimental to the movie.

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