Thursday, January 24, 2008

What does Quantum of Solace mean?

"This title is meant to confuse a little. It debates relationships and how they hurt and how people can be hurt. If you are not respecting each other - it's over, and at the end of the last movie Bond doesn't have that because his girlfriend has been killed." Daniel Craig, on the title of the new James Bond movie.

I'm so excited about the new James Bond film.

2006's Casino Royale was pretty awesome - even for a Bond purist like me. Casino Royale was always my favorite James Bond book and director Martin Campbell made a good effort to keep the story as pure as possible, yet simultaneously bring it bang up to date and include enough explosions to keep the plebs happy. [Don't you mean the 'regular cinema-goers'? Editorial Bear]

This year, the next of the 'rebooted' Bonds will hit the cinema screen with the perfectly titled Quantum of Solace.

Quantum of Solace

But what the hell does that title mean, you might ask.

Quantum of Solace is actually the title of a short story included in the James Bond anthology For Your Eyes Only. It was one of Ian Fleming's more avant-garde writing experiments - opening with James Bond at a boring dinner party in Government House, Nassau (back in the days when the Bahamas was still run by Britain.)

Bond is incidental to this story - which is actually the tale of frustrated housewife Rhoda Masters, as told by the Governor himself.

Rhoda Masters was an air stewardess who married timid diplomat Philip Masters on a whim. But instead of finding the life of a colonial diplomat's wife luxurious, the flighty young woman soon became bored and began an open affair with a local playboy.

The affair was scandalous because Rhoda was so brazen about it. She and her rich, handsome lover made no effort to hide their passionate romance and Philip was turned into a bit of an island joke - the timid cuckold who 'put up' with his wife's flagrant infidelity.

But the affair tooks it's emotional toll on Philip and soon his work suffered and he faced a nervous breakdown. The Governor saw the devastating results his wife's affair was having on the young diplomat, so he sent Philip off to Washington DC for a lengthy trade negotiation with the Americans.

While he was gone, the philandering Rhoda was told in no uncertain terms to end her affair before her devastated husband returned.

Rhoda acquiesced to the Governor's demands - but the man who returned from Washington weeks later was very different to the timid, loving husband she'd been cheating on.

Something inside Philip Masters had died and when he returned to the Bahamas, he was a shell of his former self. Hard, cold and utterly indifferent to his wife.

Rhoda's affair and cruelty towards her husband crushed that last 'Quantum of Solace' he held within his fractured heart. Now free of any lingering affection, Philip Masters sold up everything and left Rhoda stranded in the Bahamas, divorcing her and returning to England with his former wife left utterly penniless and scorned by the rest of the diplomatic crowd.


A quantum is the smallest possible measurable amount of something. The most utterly tiny amount that makes the difference between something 'being something' and not. In scientific terms, it's generally considered to be an atom.

The 'Quantum of Solace' was explained as being that small, practically immeasurable spark of compassion, love or feeling that kept Philip Masters alive inside while his wife was so horrifically callous towards him.

As long as there was that Quantum of Solace, there was something between them. When she finally crushed that tiny spark, Rhoda killed the connection between her and her husband. That's what empowered him to leave his wife utterly penniless in an unfriendly community - practically driving her to prostitution before a rich Canadian rescued her (and it is Rhoda and her second husband that Bond meets at the conclusion of this story.)

Ian Fleming's books are rich with clever catchphrases and concepts, but the Quantum of Solace is one of his finest. The immeasurable speck of affection that keeps a love affair smouldering.

It's often said that the opposite of love isn't hate. In fact, love and hate are separated by the thinnest of lines. Really, the opposite end of the spectrum from love is indifference. It's that Quantum of Solace that keeps somebody caring about another human being - instead of dismissing them as utterly emotionally insignificant.

The Real World

I've only seen the Quantum of Solace flicker a couple of times before - once when I broke up with a girlfriend I was still crazy about. I'd been a terrible boyfriend - and that behaviour had crushed her last Quantum of Solace. So when we broke up, I was still utterly crazy about her, but she couldn't care less. She didn't even have the interest to be angry at me. I'd just become an insignificance and she treated me accordingly.

Another time, I cared about a girl who still held some Quantum of Solace for an ex-boyfriend. He treated her terribly. Cheating, lying and being utterly heartless. But just as that Quantum of Solace threatened to burn to nothing, he'd make some utterly insignificant gesture - like giving her a 'mix tape' of his favourite songs, or inviting her to some family gathering in an act of supposed 'intimacy' and then the Quantum of Solace would flair up again and she'd be as hooked as she ever was.

Bond Is Back

Considering I'm so drawn to the concept, it should be no surprise that I'm excited the new Bond film is called Quantum of Solace. It opens up all sorts of possibilities to explore Daniel Craig's tough, but vulnerable Bond persona.

Part of me is worried it's just from expediency - there are still a few Bond titles that haven't been used yet and they all beat the generic 'Tomorrow Never Dies' and 'Die Another Day' and other meaningless phrases with 'die' in them.

But although the plot apparently stems around foiling a coup d'etat in some South American country - so it seems unlikely that aspects of the original story will be included - I still have hope,

Casino Royale was fresh and exciting and now they've got some momentum behind them, I'm sure the team at EON Productions won't disappoint us with James Bond's next installment.

No matter how bad it's ever got (like the decade gap between Timothy Dalton's last movie and the exciting Goldeneye) I've always held a Quantum of Solace for Monsier Bond.


Kitty said...

Hi. Thanks for visiting my blog - I've enjoyed reading some of yours.

You say "I'm so excited about the new James Bond film."

I have to admit I'm just excited about Daniel Craig. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Taking advantage of my BE posts again Roland? LOL Alan

Anonymous said...

The movie should be good, can't wait for it to come out. Over the weekend we are going to see Rambo, well how bad could it be?? LOL

Roland Hulme said...

Well, it got beaten by Meet the Spartens...!! LOL.

Good to see Sly still getting work, though.

Kingfisher241049 said...

Hows things Roland? :)

Lucy said...

Haven't seen the film yet but lots of people say is more Jason Bourne than James Bond

trace said...

the wife didn't kill the 'quantum of solace', the governor's enforced trip to washington did it - he didn't leave as an indifferent bloke, he came back as one.

it is a ridiculously pretentious title, cringe-worthy, in my opinion!

Anonymous said...

what does it mean!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

no one cares about your relationships fag

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I still don't understand, "What does Quantum of Solace mean?"
Can you give a simply synonymic phrase? It's too difficult for me to translate into another language.

ed said...

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