The importance of Casino Settings in Bond Franchise Set-pieces

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A set-piece typically refers to any big moment in a story that grabs the attention of the reader and defines the narrative. A set-piece can open a story with a bang, add interest throughout or bring the tale to a dramatic conclusion. Either way, these scenes create the talking points of a story.

Any good set-piece needs an appropriate setting and the choice can be key to making the scene work. The casino setting has become synonymous with one of the most famous novel series of all time.

Fleming’s Casino Scenes

james bond casino royale ian fleming

 "Casino Royale"   (CC BY-SA 2.0)    by rauter25

Ian Fleming’s writing career was launched by a novel that featured a casino as the setting for its most famous set-piece. Casino Royale was published in 1953 and used a game of baccarat as the setting for one of the story’s most important scenes. Casinos popped up again in later Fleming novels and inspired many other writers and filmmakers to use them as the setting for their key scenes.

Baccarat is featured in several of Fleming's novels, while the game of Bridge is featured in Moonraker. Later, the authors who continued the Bond novel series opted to include other well-known casino games. For example, in John Gardner's Role of Honour Bond plays a couple of rounds of roulette, while in Zero Minus Ten by Raymond Benson, 007 tries his hand at mahjong.

At the time of the original novels, casinos were seen as exclusive locations making them perfect for such escapism. However, these days, they are much more accessible due to online innovations, and anyone can play online casino with Betfair, for example. As a result, it would be interesting if we began to see fewer casinos in the novels and movies of the future and more set-pieces based around online or virtual reality environments.

Translating to the Silver Screen

daniel craig james bond casino royale ian fleming

"James Bond" (CC BY 2.0) by brava_67

In the debut Bond novel, we can see how the choice of the casino setting is so important to the key set piece of the novel. But also how naturally it fits into the story - set-pieces should never seem forced. These scenes are also key to how the stories are translated to the big screen and in this case, casino games became central to the Bond movies.

Baccarat is featured in the movies Dr. No (1962), Thunderball (1965), Casino Royale (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), For Your Eyes Only (1981), and GoldenEye (1995). In 1964’s Goldfinger, Sean Connery's Bond plays gin rummy, while in the 1971 release Diamonds Are Forever, 007 plays craps in Las Vegas.

Roger Moore's incarnation of Bond plays sic bo in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and backgammon in Octopussy (1983). Later, in 1987, Timothy Dalton’s 007 plays blackjack in Licence to Kill.

When Casino Royale was eventually remade in 2006, Daniel Craig’s Bond swapped baccarat for the more popular Texas Hold 'em poker. It is unclear whether there will be a casino scene in Craig’s last outing, No Time to Die due to be released in 2020.

When any book is turned into a movie screenplay, the set-pieces can become the central focus and are often used in trailers to pique the interest of viewers. Whatever type of story you are working on, it is important to know how to use set-pieces to tell your story, where to set them and how to fit them naturally into the plot.

Top Image - James Bond Tribute (CC BY 2.0) by Cooper Ness


Read 318 times Last modified on Monday, 13 January 2020 16:54
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