MI6 investigates the definition and literary roots of the newly announced title for the 22nd James Bond film "Quantum of Solace"...

Origins Of Solace
28th January 2008

On Thursday 24th January 2008, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced that James Bond's 22nd screen adventure would be entitled "Quantum of Solace". The press conference gathered the world's media, and after an initial intake of breath, many journalists were left with a puzzled expression as much of the mythology surrounding the title was lost on those unfamiliar with Ian Fleming's work. MI6 delves into the history of this classic title...

Literary Roots
In 1960, and after a run of successful James Bond adventures, Ian Fleming's eighth Bond publication was released to the world. "For Your Eyes Only" was a Bond adventure with a twist - a short story anthology - encompassing a range of five of Fleming's experimental tales. "From A View To A Kill", "For Your Eyes Only", "Quantum of Solace", "Risico" and "The Hildebrand Rarity" were the titles that appeared in this first Fleming anthology. However, "Quantum of Solace" was first published in the May 1959 edition of Modern Woman magazine.

The story draws on a tale told to Fleming by Blanche Blackwell, one in a string of short term flings for the spy-writer. When Fleming's not-so-fictional story was published, he gifted Blackwell with a Cartier wrist watch as thanks.

For many, the title draws connection instantly to Fleming's work - a linguistic twist of French and Latin - but for others "Quantum of Solace" is a tongue-twisting, almost forgettable title. The story is one loosely based on a true story; an anecdotal tale that sees 007 invited to dinner with the Governor of the Bahamas, a seemingly stale old man but with a twisted story to tell.

Dictionary Digest

Quan-tum (n. pl.) - a portion, or quantity; one that can be measured; the smallest discreet quantity

Sol-ace (n.) - Comfort in sorrow; grief or misfortune

Above: Ian Fleming at his Jamaican estate, GoldenEye, posing with a copy of his first short story collection"For Your Eyes Only"

"Quantum of Solace", like several of the stories in the anthology, encompasses none of the usual Bond formula; instead Fleming fans are treated to some of his skilled and varied penmanship. There are no villains, no Bond girls, but there remains plenty of mystery. The title given by Fleming is an appropriate one in context - the story within deals with themes of human compassion (or lack thereof), greed, spite and revenge. Once understood it is no doubt a catchy and memorable affair, with a deep significance to the plot.

"When the other person not only makes you feel insecure but actually seems to want to destroy you, its obviously the end. The Quantum of Solace stands at zero."

"Quantum of Solace" Datastream
Villains: N/A
Plot: Governor's anecdote regarding his dinner guests
Bond Girls: N/A
Allies: Phillip Masters, Rhoda Masters, The Governor
Locations: Nassau, Jamaica
Highlights: Final twist revealing dinner guest's identity

Short Story Synopsis
Bond, following a mission in Cuba, is stuck at what seems a boring dinner with the Governor of the Bahamas and his dull guests. However, Bond eventually leaves very interested, realising that there is more to the world than his spying. The governor told him a story of a man who once worked for him and got married, but shortly after his wife had a well-known affair making him the laughing stock of Bermuda's British community. But the governor's old friend managed to ruin her socially and financially before divorcing her and leaving the island. The story ends with a nice twist when Bond discovers the identity of one of the dinner guests.

Better Late Than Never
"Quantum of Solace", among the few other unused Fleming titles, has been rumoured time and time again as the various 007 screen adventures are announced and produced. From as early as "Licence To Kill", "Solace" was anticipated to make a screen appearance, yet it has taken a redirection for the franchise and a more Fleming faithful mindset for his third short story title to make it to the big screen.

Above: Michael G. Wilson, Judi Dench, Marc Forster and Barbara Broccoli at the Q&A

Michael G. Wilson, co-producer of the James Bond films, commented early in the filmmaking process that Bond 22 would not be firmly based on any particular literary work, however inspiration would be drawn on from all corners of the literary canon. "You're always looking back at Fleming for inspiration, all the writers do. Without getting specific, maybe there will be references to certain episodes. The approach to it is that Fleming is very much in the fabric of it."

Daniel Craig has hinted that the title also is connected to an element of the villain's scheme. With the death and betrayal of Vesper in "Casino Royale" and the mystery surrounding the terrorist's organisation, Bond will no doubt face greed, deal with revenge and be forced to face the little compassion he has left.

"If you don't have that quantum of solace then there's not much worth fighting for. It's a lot to do with where he's at from the end of the last movie. He's had his heart broken and he's going out to find the guy who is responsible. He hasn't had that closure in his life." - Daniel Craig on the title selection

The most literal translation of "Quantum of Solace" could be assumed to mean "Quality of Sorrow", but out of context this is quite inaccurate. It can most accurately be described, as Fleming might have dictated, "the smallest unit of human compassion".