The World is Not Enough marks Pierce Brosnan’s third time playing James Bond and is one of my favorite 007 adventures.  The 1999 film also starred Dame Judi Dench, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Robbie Coltrane, Desmond Llewelyn, and Denise Richards.  Years ago, I purchased a copy of the film’s screenplay, a first draft by Bond scribes Neal Purvis & Robert Wade.  

Let’s explore the script, the film, and the value of watching an idea evolve from the first draft to the final production. 

But first, the original theatrical trailer for The World is Not Enough:

Since the film turns 25 this year, spoilers abound in the post below!

One of my FAVORITE movie posters!

Bond, JAmes Bond

In this initial draft of the script, James Bond is pretty straightforward in his approach to the mission and the situations he finds himself in.  He has a few one-liners, but the ones used in the final film were added in subsequent drafts.  This first draft focuses on story and action sequences, saving character development and dialogue for later versions. 

Each actor who has portrayed Bond has brought their own unique spin to the character while keeping many of his established traits alive (Craig’s Bond notwithstanding).  I can see how Brosnan could feel all the films blurring together as he goes through the production process, especially if he’s tasked with helping elevate and fine-tune his dialogue throughout each project.

While it’s hinted at in the script, the emotional and psychological manipulation that Elektra King uses on Bond is missing from this first draft.  It’s evident that the seeds of the idea are present but have yet to be fully fleshed out.

The Bond Villain(s)

Elektra King and Renard are our antagonists in this outing, with King being a formidable foe for Bond to tangle with.  Like in the film, she’s a constant presence in the script, but I’m guessing that once Sophie Marceau was cast, changes were made to make her more manipulative and cunning.  Marceau’s chemistry with Brosnan possibly explains why the pair have more one-on-one scenes in the film than in this first draft. 

Elektra appears a couple of times early in the script.  Screenwriters Neal Purvis & Robert Wade wait until her third appearance to give her this description as she arrives at the King Pipeline construction site: “Stairs swing down and out steps ELEKTRA KING.  This is our first good look at her…She’s beautiful, elegant and imperious, a commanding presence in this world of men” (22).

Elektra’s death is more impactful in the final film than in this first script draft.  In the screenplay, Bond and Elektra trade lots of exposition about the plot – a lot of it moved to other scenes in the movie – before Bond finally dispatches her, which lacks the impact his killing her has in the film.  Their final moments in the film are tense, especially when compared to how their final exchange unfolds in the script: 


“ELEKTRA:  I think you made the wrong choice, James.  You came after me when you should have gone for the submarine.  (pleased) You let this get personal and the world suffers for it.

Bond looks out the window, sees the nose of the sub heading into the Bosphorus, half submerged.  The hatch is still open.  Turns back:

BOND: You like to live dangerously, Elektra.  Well this is as dangerous as it gets.

And he shoots.  One bullet through the heart.  She stumbles back.

Disbelief, then hatred in her eyes.  And then nothing.

He stares at her body a beat.  His eyes are as cold as hers.  Mixed emotions” (98).


Compare that with the version in the film:

Renard is absent for most of the screenplay.  Renard has a pet hawk in the first draft and “A faint discolouration to his forehead, where plastic skin conceals a metal plate” (32).  The character doesn’t have a strong introduction like he has in the film, probably because Robert Carlyle wasn’t signed on for the role yet.

It should also be noted that key dialogue is missing in this draft of the script that helps Bond link Renard and Elektra.  During a scene with Elektra at Zukovsky’s casino, she tells Bond, “There’s no point in living if you can’t feel alive.”  Later, Renard says a similar line to Bond moments before their first showdown in a nuclear bunker.  This, of course, leads Bond to confront Elektra, which allows Elektra another chance to further manipulate Bond; and it works.  

Something that plays a major role in Renard’s master plan and the story’s finale on the sub that isn’t mentioned directly in the film is referred to as “the PLASMA LATHE—a bulky laser-like device” in the script (81). This is the device Renard feeds the uranium core into, yielding the uranium rod he’s determined to use to cause a catastrophic nuclear event.  I don’t recall it being referred to directly, but if you were curious about the technical term for that “bulky laser-like device,” you now have the answer for your next Bond trivia night: PLASMA LATHE.

Renard’s death unfolds in the screenplay like it does in the film.  There are a few variations in the action elements, but those were probably due to the constraints of the filming location, stunt work, and all the water.

In the script, Elektra and Renard have the same evil plot and motivation as in the movie, so that didn’t change over however many rewrites the script went through.

The Bond Girl

Over the years, a lot has been said about Denise Richards’s casting as nuclear scientist Christmas Jones, but the character was always scripted the way she was portrayed in the film, with one minor difference.  In the script, Jones is “a BEAUTIFUL FRENCH POLYNESIAN GIRL” with a French accent, but all the other details during the character’s introduction describe Denise Richards quite nicely: “CHRISTMAS JONES is mid-twenties, shortish hair, hot right now.  In one movement she unzips and steps out of the [protective] suit, revealing a khaki sports bra, similar shorts, heavy duty boots.  Deep tan, incredible figure.  Totally unselfconscious” (46). 

In the film, Christmas actively participates in the adventure once she teams up with Bond after the bunker sequence.  The script has her sneaking around and tracking Bond with the help of an ex, only joining up with him by chance at the caviar factory.

Bond sleeps with Christmas Jones in the script following their excursion into the King pipeline to defuse the bomb placed inside.  This differs from the final film, where they get together after the mission, which gives the movie’s final line more of an impact than a similar line said by Christmas near the end of the script.

Q-Branch

There’s a bit more Q, no R, and some pretty dull gadgets in the screenplay’s first draft.  Q, not Tanner, explains how the pin Elektra King’s father was wearing was used as a detonator to blow up King, the money, and parts of MI-6. 

As with most interactions between Bond and Q, theirs is brief but full of quips, but the gadgets given to Bond in the script are not as useful for his mission as those he’s given in the film.  In the script, Bond is given infrared contact lenses, a DNA ring, a wristwatch with knock-out gas inside, a Walther PPK with a hidden blade, and a BMW Z7.  Aside from driving the car, none of these are effectively used by Bond over the course of his mission.  Some, like the DNA ring, are never mentioned again. 

Through the revision process, the gadgets become more useful for Bond, and he’s introduced to a new colleague of Q’s…R (John Cleese):

Sadly, this would be Desmond Llewelyn’s final time as Q in the Bond franchise, and I feel the film’s version of his scene is stronger than the script’s.

Allies

Zukovsky first appeared in Goldeneye and has his final appearances in this film.  His one-liners survived from this draft to the final film, and his scenes play out as they do in the movie.  There are some changes in the casino sequence, with Elektra giving a speech about oil at the casino and not making a surprise appearance as she does in the film.  

The card game sequence is also longer, with Elektra opting to play vingt-et-un instead of playing high-card wins the money.

The script does not include Zukovsky’s cane-gun, which he uses to save Bond in the film. Instead, he has a boring “gun” and nothing fancy.

Once it’s discovered there’s a bomb inside the King pipeline, Bond and Christmas decide to head out there to enter the pipe and defuse the explosive. In the script, a TECHNICIAN assists them to the site, but in the film, they are assisted by Charles Robinson, who also appears in Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day

Lucky for Robinson, when M is taken hostage, he’s out waiting for Bond and Christmas and not back at the control room, allowing him to appear in Die Another Day.

M

One of the script’s glaring absences is M’s kidnapping. Once she sends Bond off to keep an eye on Elektra and stop Renard, she’s back at MI-6 conducting business as usual. Of course, this changes the stakes of the story, so including her manipulation and abduction by Elektra was an excellent addition.

We know from the start of the film and the script that M and Elektra’s father have been friends since college.  We also know that M advised King not to pay the ransom demanded by Renard when he had kidnapped Elektra in the past.  With the elements established – and knowing that Elektra is aware of what happened between M and her father regarding her kidnapping and the ransom – including this element in the story adds another layer of suspense and stakes.

Elektra King’s ability to manipulate Bond and M makes her one of the best Bond Villains in the franchise.

One line of M’s that did make it from the script’s first draft to the final film is when she tells Bond right before he’s off to check on Elektra: “Shadows stay behind or in front.  Never on top” (20).  

The Action

Since this is a first draft, I’m going to guess that it was a way for the producers to see what action elements the writers had in mind for Bond’s 19th outing. All but one sequence made it from this draft to the final film.

After the action sequence at the caviar factory, the script has Bond, Jones, and Zukovsky head to a secret location in Istanbul.  In the film, one of Zukovsy’s henchmen – working for Elektra – sets off a bomb, leading to Bond and Jones’s capture.

The script has an elaborate four-page chase sequence through the city, with Bond and Jones crashing and smashing their way through a bazaar, the town square, several buildings, and a Turkish bathhouse while being pursued.  At one point, Bond and Jones “rumble through the city in a gigantic crane.  A car catches up, runs alongside them, someone shooting at them.  The cabin window disintegrates.  Bond presses a button, a giant stabilizing wind shoots out, powerfully stabs the car into a brick wall” (86). 

The duo eventually jump atop a train, only to be captured anyway. 

I will assume there wasn’t enough budget to destroy a city with a crane and do the train stunts.

A scene that remains in the film but changes from the script is the boat chase in the pre-title sequence.  This is how the scene unfolds in the movie:

In what I can only assume was an homage to another Bond entry, Thunderball, the script has our hero “shooting out of the smouldering blast hole, strapped into the JETPACK…” (9).

Given how effects-heavy this would have been—not to mention kind of cheesy—I’m glad they went with the boat chase option. It’s much cooler, and they still got in a small nod to the gondola scene from Moonraker.

And, yes, Elektra’s creepy torture chair also survived from the first draft to the final film.

Overall Analysis

This first draft of The World is Not Enough is a fascinating piece of cinema history. I would love to see additional drafts of the script, especially versions with rewrites by additional writer Bruce Feirstein.  We’re so used to seeing the polished final product with a movie, so it’s nice to see how a story, characters, and dialogue evolve over the course of the drafting process.

As I stated before, this draft appears to be primarily to show how the story’s structure, locations, and action sequences would unfold with dialogue and character development pushed aside for subsequent drafts.  It’s possible this was done to give the producers an idea of the film’s scope and what a possible budget could be for the production.  

With the removal of one of the big action set pieces toward the finale and switching Bond from a vintage jet pack to a rocket boat for the opening chase, I can see reasons why these decisions were made from a budget, schedule, and visual effects standpoint.

Crafting a Bond film with all the history and cache the brand entails must be daunting. I can see why screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade became the go-to team for not only The World is Not Enough but also Die Another Day and all five of Daniel Craig’s Bond films.

If you are a Bond fan, I highly recommend seeking script drafts of your favorite 007 adventures to see how they evolved from the page to the screen.

For Writers…

Fortunately, we can access screenplay drafts of produced films, which are much easier to come by than drafts of a Stephen King novel.  What we can learn as writers is that multiple drafts of these stories exist, which means getting it right the first time isn’t a reality even for the most seasoned of screenwriters.

So, it shouldn’t be a standard you set for you and your writing, either.  

Give yourself permission not to get it right the first time; just get it down on the page.  You can’t revise what hasn’t been written, and as you’ll notice, if you read early drafts of a script, they don’t get it perfect right from the start, either.

I strongly urge all writers to seek out an early draft of a favorite film and read it, then watch the movie and observe the changes. This exercise is not just about understanding the process but also about learning from it. 

Happy reading, viewing, and analyzing, and I’ll see you next time!


For more The World is Not Enough content, I recommend watching the film, then checking out this great video analysis below:

Any details from the script you’d like further info on? Leave a comment and let me know!

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