Posted 20 January 2015 - 04:20 AM
Everyone wants to see the Garden of Death on film, but I think it is going to be a major challenge. The big problem is that a lot of it is grounded in Japanese culture, particularly the way suicide is seen as a way to resolve one's shame honourably. If the producers got this element of it wrong, then it would be easy to accuse the film of being insensitive or worse, exploitative. Conversely, if they got it right, then it could potentially be a film that no-one in their right mind wanted to see. The obvious solution to this would be to rewrite the story with Blofeld as a biochemist or some such, but I think that would erode the spirit of the story.
So I think that the easiest way to incorporate it would be to move the action away from Japan entirely. Instead, I would set the film somewhere like Nepal or Bhutan.
The book stands out in my mind as being very different from any other Bond story. You'll have to bear with me through this next part, as I am an English teacher, so some of this is going to be analysis and interpretation. I really think that the story is the ultimate battle between good and evil. In many ways, Bond is chasing Blofeld to the ends of the earth for a confrontation that only one of them can walk away from. At the time of writing, Japan was very much the ends of the earth, but in the time since, the world has gotten smaller and it no longer really fits that idea. On the other hand, Nepal and Bhutan are fairly remote, and have very esoteric cultures that have not rubbed off on the West, and nor have they adopted elements of Western culture. And in terms of geography, there is virtually nothing north of Nepal - you have mountains, deserts, the steppes and Siberia. There's the odd town or city, like Urumqi, but it's very uninhabited. I think it really fits the "ends of the earth" description.
If the fight between Bond and Blofeld is one of good versus evil, then Blofeld represents, for want of a better word, a devil. Not in a religious or biblical sense, but something much more basic. The Garden of Death, then, is a nest of corruption, a blight upon the landscape that feeds on and subverts the nobility of a culture - like Japan - in order to sustain itself. If it were to be filmed, then this is what I think the Garden should be.
I also think that surviving the Garden is just as fundamental to the confrontation with Blofeld as the fight itself. And for this reason, I think Nepal would be perfect. For one, the Garden can be at altitude, so the air will be thin. And in the winter, it would be bitingly cold. Combine this with Dr. No's assault course, and getting into the Garden itself would be a challenge - Bond could go caving to sneak into the Garden, and contend with some kind of geothermal heating system. By the time he actually confronts Blofeld, he should have gone through hell - physically exhausted, bloodied, bruised and burnt, and probably feeling the effects of a bite or a sting from a poisonous plant or animal.
I also think that the Garden of Death would make a perfect finale for Craig. Much of the novel has Bond making his peace with the world, as he knows he is likely to die. And in a way, he does; his amnesia effectively kills the old Bond, allowing him to forget the trauma of his life and live a normal life as a reward for wiping Blofeld's evil out. Given that Bond staged his death - more by happy coincidence than by design - in "Skyfall" and amnesia was a plot device in the "Bourne" films, it might be hard to pull off. But a film featuring the Garden could end with the Garden being destroyed in an avalanche. M, or perhaps a local contact, then dictates an after-action report with Bond missing in action. As he narrates, we see a lone figure walking away from the ruins of the Garden and fading away in the twilight, and we know that figure is James Bond.