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Topic: Canon

The word "canon" gets mentioned a lot, and I thought it might be useful if we discuss exactly what it means.

Obviously Ian Fleming's work is canon, but of the continuation authors' books what is or isn't? Kingsley Amis ("Robert Markham") might have a case, with portions of his work being filmed, but what about Gardner, Benson, etc?

The films sometimes follow Fleming closely and sometimes directly contradict him-  by which I don't mean updating since that is inevitable- so are they canon? Since they now both outnumber and outweigh (in public perception) the original books, should they be considered the official canon?

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Re: Canon

I prefer Nikon

President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.
-------Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!------
FIRST TO DISCOVER substantial evidence that Chew Mee is in fact not totally nude in the TMWTGG pool scenes!

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Re: Canon

Bazooka.


In my opinion there is only one true Bond canon, and that is Fleming's literary works (I agree that a case could be made for Amis's contribution). I will accept that there is a Bond cinema canon but that should never be confused with the original source material and must always be differentiated with the words cinema, film or movie.

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Re: Canon

By "canon" do you mean continuity? There are multiple continuities. I believe that what is currently known as Ian Fleming Publications considers all of their authorised Bond stories to be official.

I don't think it's possible to think of Bond canon in the same way one might think of Star Wars canon, where everything is happening on one timeline in one universe. There's not just one continuity with Bond, if there are any overall continuities at all. At the very least, official Bond canon is not just one continuity.

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Re: Canon

I prefer "Dirty Harrys" (photographers) with their "44 Magnums" (DSLR Cameras. This is all slang that I found in urbandictionary)

Well, I hope this thread doesn't attract any codename theorists.
I believe that there is some form of continuity, but only short term one. For example:
Bond "reviewing an old case" in From Russia With Love with Sylvia Trench from Dr NO.
Most of the gadgets from the previous films in OHMSS.
Moneypenny and the hat throwing running gag from the Connery Era films with George Lazenby at his wedding. (shed some tears on that one)
"The Bullion Job" (Goldfinger as referred to by M) from 1964, also appearing in the wedding.
However, the only long-term continuity from the films is Tracy (For Your Eyes Only-Licence To Kill-The World Is Not Enough).

a reasonable rate of return

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Re: Canon

No, I don't mean continuity (we've beaten that one to death).

If a film states bluntly that Bond went to Cambridge while Fleming states bluntly that he didn't, I'd go with Fleming. But if a continuation author says, eg, the death of Bond's parents was part of an elaborate scheme (since Andrew Bond was working for MI6) that has ramifications for James later- is that canon? Fleming never said anything of this sort.

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Re: Canon

https://youtu.be/MQaNeIecJkE. ( Just for fun )
For me Fleming is Canon,  all the rest is interesting but disposable.

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: Canon

ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol  ajb007/lol   Yes, that is certainly cannon!

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Re: Canon

Surely by definition only Flemings work is canon, as it's by its very nature definitive, a continuation author can add details to a story eluded to by Fleming but then another continuation author can change those details at a later date. Is their a literary bond canon and a different movie bond canon?

It was either that.....or the priesthood

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Re: Canon

Partly that's what I was asking. I agree that Fleming is canon and no-one else is, literature wise.

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Re: Canon

I'd agree that only Fleming counts as canon.

Colonel Sun is a special case, although I'd be tempted to include more since it respects Fleming's work and doesn't stray too far from the formula, which later continuation authors didn't adhere too ... and also because of the timeline in which it was Written... and the fact that it's the best of the continuation novels imo.  ajb007/bond

The EON films I guess have their own canon, which would exclude Casino Royales '54 and '67, and NSNA. Though there are often contradictory elements in the EON  films, these are usually to fit the timelines, so can pretty much be overlooked.  ajb007/martini

"How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."

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Re: Canon

Charmed & Dangerous wrote:

The EON films I guess have their own canon, which would exclude Casino Royales '54 and '67, and NSNA. Though there are often contradictory elements in the EON  films, these are usually to fit the timelines, so can pretty much be overlooked.  ajb007/martini

There are at least two canons for the EON films: Craig and not Craig. The films before Craig, whether or not they fit into one timeline (which has been discussed here before), I think can fit into one canon. I don't think the personal relationship Bond has with Blofeld in Craig's canon makes that canon in the prior films.

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Re: Canon

Matt S wrote:
Charmed & Dangerous wrote:

The EON films I guess have their own canon, which would exclude Casino Royales '54 and '67, and NSNA. Though there are often contradictory elements in the EON  films, these are usually to fit the timelines, so can pretty much be overlooked.  ajb007/martini

There are at least two canons for the EON films: Craig and not Craig. The films before Craig, whether or not they fit into one timeline (which has been discussed here before), I think can fit into one canon. I don't think the personal relationship Bond has with Blofeld in Craig's canon makes that canon in the prior films.

Yep, agreed, I stand corrected  ajb007/lol  ajb007/martini

"How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."

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Re: Canon

there's too much contradiction between the films for them to add up to canon,
more like each one is a selfcontained possible Bond adventure, loosely inspired by all that has gone before
we're just lucky when they occasionally do seem to remember something that happened in a previous episode

the films diverge from the books as soon as Dr No says he works for SPECTRE: I don't think any of the films could possibly exists in the same universe as Fleming's books
that's one reason Christopher Wood's novelizations are so appealing: he did try hard to make the most absolutely unFleminglike episodes consistent with what Fleming wrote (except that Drax therefor appears twice in Bond's adventures) ... when Gardner and Benson wrote novelizations, did they attempt the same trick?

within Fleming there is the problem of Bond's sliding birthdate

what about Pearson's "authorised" biography of 007? aside from making Moonraker an imaginary adventure (which might explain the Chrisopher Wood novelization issue), are all the new details there consistent with what Fleming wrote?

what about the comic strips? the latter adaptations had radically different plots from what Fleming wrote, but then there was 20+ years of all new adventures

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Re: Canon

It depends on your definition of 'canon' - imo, though of course it's just an opinion, is that it means what's' officially part of the story or 'lore' of Bond (that does sounds a bit weird when written down  ajb007/lol ). So the sliding timeline of Bond's birth year, as written by Fleming, is not problematic - it's the events and the characters which are canonical.  ajb007/martini

"How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."

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Re: Canon

Yes, I agree. The sliding timescale is inevitable and it's the events and characters that count.

To answer caractacus potts- Gardner attempted to fit Leiter's disagreement with the shark that ate him in LTK into Fleming's timeline, ie Leiter was fed to a shark twice. He did ignore Bond's meeting two Milton Krests though.
Benson was quite obsessive with keeping his stories consistent with Fleming.

I agree with Matt S- there are two film canons, the second starting with CR06. This means that we have to believe that Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan are all playing the same man whose age is inconsistent.

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Re: Canon

thinking more about Pearson's biography...
he does expand incidents like Bond losing his virginity and his first two kills ... I'm not sure if these are consistent with what Fleming wrote or not
and generally we get a series of 10-15pg mini-adventures that happen between Flemings books ... again, I'm not sure if these expand passing references Fleming made or if theyre wholly original

but the big issue is the concept that within the universe where Pearson is interviewing the "real" James Bond, Fleming's books exist as the same published books that we know in our universe (some sort of propaganda disinformation ploy to confuse SMERSH) ... I'm sorry, but when I read Fleming, I do not assume when Bond is at the airport, he can find his own adventures available on the racks of the airport bookshop right next to Eric Ambler's Coffin for Dimitrios, so Fleming's universe and Pearson's must be two separate realities ... though this might explain how Tiffany Case knows who James Bond is in the film

...but, at least in Pearson's version, where James Bond experienced all his adventures except Moonraker (Pearson has some elaborate explanation why this story alone is fictional), that would allow for Wood's Drax to be the real one, which I guess could be a positive tradeoff for some fans of the movie but not the book

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Re: Canon

also: even within Fleming's universe, is The Spy Who loved Me actually canon?
Vivienne Michelle is an "unreliable narrator": she could be a looney, or a liar, or just might not have a perfect memory of the night's events ... all we really know is a manuscript arrived on the chronicler's desk, did he bother to fact-check, or did he just submit it to his publishers as is so could skip a book and have some extra free time at Goldeneye that summer?

now the comic strip adaptation of that one, instead of half the story being Vivienne's sexual adventures in London, we get a full-length Bond mission fighting spectre in Canada ... in Fleming's book, there is one chapter where Bond tells Vivienne what he was doing in Toronto before he drove past the motel ... is this consistent with the larger adventure in the comic strip? doesn't matter, because Fleming's version is from Vivienne's point of view, and she's an unreliable narrator (and even if she remembered the story Bond told accurately, Bond could have lied to her (national security)) ... in this case, the comic strip, being from Bond's point of view could be more canonical than Fleming's book!

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Re: Canon

Canon refers to what is recognized as part of a finite body. With the films, for instance, the EON productions would have formed canonical works as "official" Bond films.  CR67 and NSNA would stand outside that canon.  The novels and short stories would form their own canon along similar lines.

Where it gets fuzzy is two-fold:  All the shell games as films and production companies change owners and the like, and the issue of continuity, which is the internal consistency within canonical works.  Here it gets more complicated, as sloppiness in writing and production can lead to problems even within official works.  We see contradictions in both fact (is Bond's martini shaken or stirred?) and execution (how can Bond remain perpetually in his 30s or 40s over a 50-year period of time?).

Fans are free to pick and choose what is important to them.  I tend to find continuity important to maintaining the integrity and believability of a series, whether it's film or book, but others may not care at all.

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Re: Canon

caractacus potts wrote:

thinking more about Pearson's biography...
he does expand incidents like Bond losing his virginity and his first two kills ... I'm not sure if these are consistent with what Fleming wrote or not
and generally we get a series of 10-15pg mini-adventures that happen between Flemings books ... again, I'm not sure if these expand passing references Fleming made or if theyre wholly original

A bit of both, really.

caractacus potts wrote:

The Spy Who loved Me ... we get a full-length Bond mission fighting spectre in Canada ... in Fleming's book, there is one chapter where Bond tells Vivienne what he was doing in Toronto before he drove past the motel ... is this consistent with the larger adventure in the comic strip?

No, it isn't.

Gassy Man wrote:

Canon refers to what is recognized as part of a finite body. With the films, for instance, the EON productions would have formed canonical works as "official" Bond films.  CR67 and NSNA would stand outside that canon.  The novels and short stories would form their own canon along similar lines.

Where it gets fuzzy is two-fold:  All the shell games as films and production companies change owners and the like, and the issue of continuity, which is the internal consistency within canonical works.  Here it gets more complicated, as sloppiness in writing and production can lead to problems even within official works.  We see contradictions in both fact (is Bond's martini shaken or stirred?) and execution (how can Bond remain perpetually in his 30s or 40s over a 50-year period of time?).

Fans are free to pick and choose what is important to them.  I tend to find continuity important to maintaining the integrity and believability of a series, whether it's film or book, but others may not care at all.

Well put, thank you GM.

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Re: Canon

Gassy Man wrote:

Canon refers to what is recognized as part of a finite body. With the films, for instance, the EON productions would have formed canonical works as "official" Bond films.  CR67 and NSNA would stand outside that canon.  The novels and short stories would form their own canon along similar lines.

Where it gets fuzzy is two-fold:  All the shell games as films and production companies change owners and the like, and the issue of continuity, which is the internal consistency within canonical works.  Here it gets more complicated, as sloppiness in writing and production can lead to problems even within official works.  We see contradictions in both fact (is Bond's martini shaken or stirred?) and execution (how can Bond remain perpetually in his 30s or 40s over a 50-year period of time?).

Fans are free to pick and choose what is important to them.  I tend to find continuity important to maintaining the integrity and believability of a series, whether it's film or book, but others may not care at all.

I second Barbel here...this is a concise encapsulation, for me, as I have no problem tagging NSNA onto Sir Sean's Bond films, nor do I have a problem accepting Craig's Bond as a reboot of everything, independent of whether we assume everything else in the series somehow happens after his arc in the character...likewise, I am equally happy to pretend that some of Sir Roger's tenure never happened - unless and until I have an inexplicable bout of nostalgia on a Sunday evening, and plug OP or AVTAK into my player  ajb007/embarrassed

"Blood & Ashes"...AVAILABLE on Amazon.co.uk: Get 'Jaded': Blood & Ashes: The Debut Oscar Jade Thriller
"I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
"Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM

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Re: Canon

BUMP!
_____________________________________________________
where more than one version of an adventure exists, how do you reconcile the differences?

There's at least one film for each of Fleming's books, even though some of them are almost completely unrelated aside from the title. Some of them have been made more than once. (and some of the plots have been recycled unofficially, does filmBond ever get deja vu when he re-encounters the exact same situation over and over?).
There was also the comic strip that adapted all of the novels, including Colonel Sun (and the Lawrence/Horak ones diverged greatly from what Fleming wrote, mostly adding rather than removing).
Pearson expanded and contradicted a lot of details in his Bond biography (major eg: Moonraker didn't happen, minor eg: Pearson's Bond argues he was not nearly so smitten with Vesper as Fleming claimed).
And of course Horowitz inserted a previously undisclosed adventure following Goldfinger, and now another one preceding Casino Royale (does the prequel contradict anything Fleming wrote?)

When it comes to the most straightforward film adaptations, I assume everything Fleming wrote was true unless explicitly stated otherwise. Therefor Bernard Lee's M is named Miles Messervy, Pussy Galore is a lesbian, and Mary Goodnight used to be Bond's secretary.
Folks who have never read the books would fill in these details differently.
Does it work the other way? Can we assume newly added film details can fit in Fleming's books where not otherwise contradicted? For example, does Major Dexter Smythe have a daughter we don't see when Bond visits him in his home? unlikely, because we learn a lot about the man but no daughter is mentioned. But are there other cases where that would work?

and who do Dr No and Rosa Klebb really work for, the Russians or SPECTRE?

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Re: Canon

caractacus potts wrote:

where more than one version of an adventure exists, how do you reconcile the differences?

There's at least one film for each of Fleming's books, even though some of them are almost completely unrelated aside from the title. Some of them have been made more than once. (and some of the plots have been recycled unofficially, does filmBond ever get deja vu when he re-encounters the exact same situation over and over?).

Have a read at https://www.ajb007.co.uk/post/920302/#p920302, where that's the main running joke.




caractacus potts wrote:

Can we assume newly added film details can fit in Fleming's books where not otherwise contradicted? For example, does Major Dexter Smythe have a daughter we don't see when Bond visits him in his home? unlikely, because we learn a lot about the man but no daughter is mentioned. But are there other cases where that would work?

As I said above:

Barbel wrote:

If a film states bluntly that Bond went to Cambridge while Fleming states bluntly that he didn't, I'd go with Fleming. But if a continuation author says, eg, the death of Bond's parents was part of an elaborate scheme (since Andrew Bond was working for MI6) that has ramifications for James later- is that canon? Fleming never said anything of this sort.

If a detail in a film or continuation novel doesn't contradict Fleming but adds verisimultitude to his work (as Horowitz seems to be doing), then I don't see a problem.

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Re: Canon

the reason I've been thinking about this stuff, is I've been looking at John Griswold's Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's James Bond Stories. A good chunk of it is visible for reading on GoogleBooks
(and word on the street is different chunks become visible at different times, so if you keep checking back you can read more of it. Currently, the first 30 pgs are hidden, in favour of some chunks further on, but last week they were visible and theyre the important bits).
Griswold's reference work is one of a half dozen publications officially approved by Ian Fleming Publications, so we gotta take his research more seriously than the usual fanfic speculations.

Griswold painstakingly picks through Fleming's text looking for all clues as to precisely when something happened. He finds specific calendar dates, and references to outside events (eg the Queens coronation or the quote "we'll have Jack Kennedy on our tails") to place the events of each book and the biographical clues we occasionally get. He begins with Casino Royale and concludes it took place in summer 1951. Then continues to Live and Let Die, and thanks to one silly contextual detail (Miss Jamaica 1954 is mentioned in passing) places that in 1954, then corrects the previous books dates to match. He proceeds through each of the 14 books like that, placing each new one in turn and revising the earlier ones to match. So that the obit in You Only Live Twice becomes the final true date and everything old is shifted to fit that.
It all eventally balances out to each book taking place the year before Fleming wrote it, two years before publication date  (which makes sense: Fleming personally did field research the year before his annual trip to Goldeneye and built his plots around his experiences).

Hugely admirable in system and detail, but I gotta say the choice to revise forwards towards YOLT seems arbitrary. He could have just as easily started at the end and revised towards the beginning. I would personally say those contextual details that he get hung up are the least relevant clues.

One odd date he does insist on keeping fixed is Bond buying that Bentley "almost new" in 1933. If Bond was 37 in Moonraker (one absolute reference to his age) he would therefor have been approx. 17 in 1933, so that sort of makes sense for a little rich kid with attitude who inherited his parents wealth. But the obit in YOLT specifically shaves a decade off his age, making him 7 in 1933. So Griswold argues Bond inherited the car, and lied to Vesper about the purchase. Wouldn't it be simpler just to also shift the purchase date forward along with his birthdate, so he buys the car "as good as new" in 1943, and infer "almost new" was a typo?


Another related thing I'm thinking, about this age problem:
the obit in YOLT is probably misinformation. Just giving Bond an obit at all must be a violation of the Official Secrets Act, so M fudges any useful information, including the birthdate. We should take all info within the obit as unreliable and privilege earlier info within the various books' text instead (i.e. passages written in the omniscient narrative voice, and those written from Bond's PoV, should both take precedent over what M chooses to publish in a newspaper).

So, in Moonraker, Bond says he will be forcibly retired in eight years. Eight years would actually bring us to OHMSS (book 3 + 8 years = book 11), when he does indeed intend to retire. That makes sense without revising the birthdate.
It's only those next two adventures that don't make sense: M says Bond is screwing up his missions following Tracy's death, so sends him on a purely diplomatic errand to Japan (M actually removes his 007 number and gives him a new number, 7777 for this diplomatic job), but he shouldn't have been giving him missions at all. Then a year later Bond comes back brainwashed and tries to kill M, two years past retirement age, and M gives him yet another mission!

Therefor there must be some slippage in his age over the course of 14 adventures. Just he doesn't need to be perpetually 37 to make it work. If you check the scenes where he meets with M at the beginning of each book, many of them take place much less than one year after the last. Diamonds are Forever begins about two months after Moonraker (and that adventure lasted all of one five day work week), and there actually is not a single mission-between-mission mentioned until Goldfinger! until that book, M always specifically mentions he last published book as being Bond's last mission! so we could more easily compress time between missions to make Bond's age work, and ignore any irrelevant contextual references like the Queen's coronation, instead of assuming a perpetually sliding birthdate.


(apologies to Barbel: if all this overanalysis is not what you meant by "canon", I didn't know a more appropriate thread in which to post it)

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Re: Canon

ha! I see, Barbel, you replied while I was editing that epic blather! hope you accept it as on-topic


so far's I know Canon is a religious term, later used for literature.
The early Catholic Church picked and chose which texts would make up the New Testament, leaving some out (for Umberto Eco and Dan Brown to make use of instead millennia later). The opposite of Canon is Apocrypha.
My understanding, is that the four Gospels that make up the New Testament contradict each other in fine detail, but they are all Canon. So Canon does not have to be 100% consistent, according to those who invented the concept.

I'm not a believer myself, but I know some religious folks believe the word of the Bible to be literal Truth (evolution vs Creation is how I usually encounter that viewpoint). I wonder how Biblical literalists reconcile contradictory texts within the Bible while still accepting them all as literal Truth?