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Casino Royale Script Spoilers *WARNING SPOILERS*
New spoilers regarding the Casino Royale script. DO NOT read if you don't want to be spoiled.
I will be on my best behavior here out of respect for both the filmmakers and Bond fans but must nevertheless issue a SPOILER WARNING.
First, I must clarify a matter that has gotten several Bond fansite message boards fired up. In IGN's recent casting exclusive, I revealed that sources referred to the part of the villain as just that: the villain and not "Le Chiffre," as he was named in Ian Fleming's novel. I emphasized that just because the source did not call him that it didn't mean he would not be called Le Chiffre. Nevertheless, some fans took it as gospel that Le Chiffre was out. (It should be noted that there is also a secondary villain named "Demetrius.")
According to these script pages, issued in late December 2005, 007's antagonist at the gaming tables of the titular casino is indeed called Le Chiffre. Also, Bond's intelligence contact is, as he was in the book, called "Mathis" here, however, our recent casting info said he was now a Greek character named "Massus." There are two other supporting characters' names revealed here: someone named Bliss (a woman, I presume) and an associate of Le Chiffre's named Kratt.
These pages focus on Vesper and Bond, the relationship that is at the heart of Casino Royale. Vesper is not introduced until forty pages into this particular draft of the script. Her meeting with Bond takes place onboard a train (shades of From Russia with Love and Hitchcock's North by Northwest). Vesper is "the money," a Treasury operative sent to keep Bond funded in his match against Le Chiffre. She is the bureaucrat there to keep an eye on the government's money. If Bond burns through his initial ten million stake then it's up to Vesper to decide if he gets more. (There is a humorous moment later on where we learn that even 007 pays taxes.)
Vesper and Bond's first scene together in the train dining car is laced with an aggresive sexual tension and biting sarcasm as they each take turns sizing the other one up. I can imagine that this scene has been tweaked innumerable times as it is perhaps the key scene in the entire movie, setting up not only the picture's romantic subplot but also planting the seeds for the story's climax.
Like Sherlock Holmes, Bond thinks he has Vesper pegged judging by her appearance and manner (described as beautiful but no-nonsense). Vesper, however, gives as good as she gets, properly deducing that Bond's well-groomed manner belies a chip on his shoulder and perhaps an inferiority complex (there are elements of Ian Fleming's own background and issues here). Bond, however, also deduces that Vesper wants to be taken seriously and overcompensates for being beautiful by being more aggressive and "masculine," if you will.
We come to learn that both Bond and Vesper are orphans. Vesper joins the elite few Bond girls who have spoken about their late parents: Honey Rider in Dr. No, Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only, Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough and Octopussy in, well, take a guess. This gives their characters an added dimension beyond being mere eye candy.
Le Casino Royale itself is set in Montenegro, and is described as a structure of "fading grandeur" dominating a hilltop town. Confirming earlier rumors, James Bond will indeed be playing poker in the film's set-piece showdown with Le Chiffre rather than Baccarat, which was the game in the book. And, confirming other rumors, Le Chiffre is indeed involved in bankrolling terrorist operations. Bond is worried that, should he lose, Le Chiffre will now have British government money in his pocket to go fund suicide bombers with. There is no grand "if he wins all this money then he will buy a doomsday weapon" gimmick evident in these pages but that's not to say there couldn't be one. That said, it was nice to see Bond confronting a more down-to-earth threat, like stopping a wealthy financier of suicide bombers. 007 understands that beating Le Chiffre won't stop all of them but he will settle for stopping a few of them. Better than none at all.
Bond sees gambling and poker as a matter of odds and probability not chance. Bluffing is an essential part of that strategy, as is the ability to read people. But, as in Fleming's novel, Bond does not initially beat Le Chiffre at the gaming table. This sobering defeat gnaws at 007, exposing his arrogance and impatience, and forcing him to ask Vesper for more funds. Despite losing that round, Bond still believes he can beat Le Chiffre at the table. The pages ended just as 007 was to confront Le Chiffre again.
Hopefully Martin Campbell and Paul Haggis understand that Ian Fleming's Casino Royale novel was NOT an origin story for James Bond, rahter an introduction to the character.