Vesper Lynd

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Vesper Lynd
Character from the James Bond film series
Vesperlynd.jpeg
Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
Occupation Double Agent
Affiliation Novel:
MVD
MI6
Film:
HM Treasury
Quantum
Portrayed by Ursula Andress (1967)
Eva Green (2006)

Vesper Lynd is a fictional character featured in Ian Fleming's James Bond novel Casino Royale. In the 1967 film of Casino Royale, she is played by Ursula Andress. In the 2006 adaptation, she is played by Eva Green.

In the novel, the character explains that she was born on a "dark and stormy" night, and her parents named her "Vesper" after the Latin word meaning evening (see vespers) to commemorate the night. Fleming created a cocktail recipe in the novel that Bond names after her. The "Vesper martini" became very popular after the novel's publication, and gave rise to the famous "shaken, not stirred" catchphrase immortalised in the Bond films. The actual name for the drink (as well as its complete recipe) is uttered on screen for the first time in the 2006 adaptation of Casino Royale.

Novel biography[edit]

Vesper works at MI6 headquarters as personal assistant to Head of section S. She is loaned to Bond, much to his irritation, to assist him in his mission to bankrupt Le Chiffre, the paymaster of a SMERSH-controlled trade union. She poses as a radio seller working with Rene Mathis and later as Bond's companion to infiltrate the casino in Royale-les-Eaux, in which Le Chiffre frequently gambles. After Bond takes all of Le Chiffre's money in a high-stakes game of baccarat, Vesper is abducted by Le Chiffre's thugs, who also nab Bond when he tries to rescue her. Both are rescued after Le Chiffre is murdered by a SMERSH agent, but only after Bond has been tortured.

Vesper visits Bond every day in the hospital, and the two grow very close; much to his own surprise, Bond develops genuine feelings for her, and even dreams of leaving the service and marrying her. After he is released from the hospital, they go on a holiday together and eventually become lovers.

Vesper holds a terrible secret, however: She is a double agent working for MVD and only worked with Bond because she was under orders to see that he did not escape Le Chiffre. (Her kidnapping was staged in order to lure Bond into Le Chiffre's clutches.) Before she met Bond, she had been romantically involved with a Polish RAF operative. This man had been captured by SMERSH, and revealed information about Vesper under torture. Hence, SMERSH was using this operative to blackmail Vesper into helping them. After Le Chiffre's death, she is initially hopeful that she and Bond can start a new life but realises this is impossible when she notices a SMERSH operative, Gettler, tracking her and Bond's movements. Consumed with guilt and certain that SMERSH will find and kill both of them, she commits suicide, leaving a note admitting her treachery and pledging her love to Bond.

Bond copes with the loss by renouncing her as a traitor and going back to work as though nothing has happened. He phones his superiors and informs them of Vesper's treason and death, coldly saying "The bitch is dead."

Bond's feelings for Vesper are not totally extinguished; Fleming's tenth novel, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, reveals that he makes an annual pilgrimage to Royale-les-Eaux to visit her grave. In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond skips the song "La Vie En Rose" in Tiffany Case's hotel room "because it has memories for him"; this is a song closely associated with Vesper in Casino Royale. Furthermore, in the novel Goldfinger, when a drugged Bond believes that he has died and is preparing to enter heaven, he worries about how to introduce Tilly Masterton, whom he believes has died along with him, to Vesper.

In 1993, controversial journalist Donald McCormick claimed that Fleming based Vesper Lynd on the real life Special Operations Executive agent Krystyna Skarbek, but there is no credible evidence for the claim.[1]

Film biography[edit]

1967[edit]

Vesper Lynd, in the 1967 version of Casino Royale, was portrayed by Ursula Andress, who portrayed another Bond girl, Honey Ryder, in the 1962 film version of Dr. No.

In this version, which bore little resemblance to the novel, Vesper is depicted as a former secret agent who has since become a multi-millionaire with a penchant for wearing ridiculously extravagant outfits at her office ("because if I wore it in the street people might stare"). Bond (played by David Niven), now in the position of M at MI6, uses a discount for her past due taxes to bribe her into becoming another 007 agent, and to recruit baccarat expert Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers) into stopping Le Chiffre (played by Orson Welles).

Vesper and Tremble have an affair during which she eliminates an enemy agent sent to seduce Tremble ("Miss Goodthighs"). Ultimately, however, she betrays Tremble to Le Chiffre and SMERSH, declaring to Tremble, "Never trust a rich spy" before killing him with a machine gun hidden inside a bagpipe. Though her ultimate fate is not revealed in the film, in the closing credits she is shown as an angel playing a harp, showing her to be one of the "seven James Bonds at Casino Royale" killed by an atomic explosion.

2006 and 2008[edit]

In the 2006 film version of Casino Royale, Vesper Lynd is a foreign liaison agent from the HM Treasury's Financial Action Task Force assigned to make sure that Bond adequately manages the funds provided by MI6. However, she is secretly a double agent working for Quantum, the very terrorist organization MI6 is trying to stop. She is an unwilling traitor, however; she is only helping Quantum because they have taken her lover Yusef hostage and threatened to kill him if she does not cooperate.

Vesper is initially skeptical about Bond's ego and at first is unwilling to be his trophy at the poker tournament with Le Chiffre. She refuses to bankroll him after he goes bankrupt on an early hand. However, she assists Bond during his struggle with Steven Obanno, knocking away the gun from the latter. She afterwards retreats to the shower, feeling that she has blood on her hands from helping to kill Obanno. Bond kisses the "blood" off her hands to comfort her, and they return to the casino. Shortly afterwards she saves Bond's life. Poisoned by Le Chiffre's girlfriend, Valenka, Bond struggles unsuccessfully to connect a key wire to his automatic external defibrillator, but Vesper arrives and makes the proper connection, allowing the machine to revive him.

After Bond wins the tournament, Le Chiffre kidnaps Vesper, and Bond gives chase. They fall into Le Chiffre's trap, but both are saved by Quantum henchman Mr. White, who shoots and kills Le Chiffre for misappropriating his organisation's funds.

While both are in a hospital to recover from torture, Bond and Vesper fall deeply in love, and Bond plans to resign from the service in order to be with her. As in the novel, Bond and Vesper go on vacation to Venice, hoping to start a new life. Unknown to Bond, however, Vesper embezzles the money and delivers it to a group of Quantum henchmen. When Bond realizes what has happened and goes after Vesper, the thugs take her hostage and lock her in an elevator while they do battle with him. After several explosions, the flooded building sinks, but Vesper resigns herself to death and locks herself in, even as Bond frantically tries to open the elevator. In her final gesture, she kisses Bond's hands to clear him of guilt. Bond finally extricates her and tries to revive her using CPR, to no avail.

As in the novel, Bond copes with his lover's death by renouncing her, saying, "The job's done and the bitch is dead." M chastises him, assuming that Lynd had cut a deal with her blackmailers to spare him in return for the money, and states that "I'm sure she hoped they'd let her live. But she must have known she was going to her death." When Bond opens Vesper's mobile phone afterwards, he finds that she has left Mr. White's phone number, enabling Bond to track down and confront him at the movie's end.

In the 2008 film Quantum of Solace, Bond is seeking revenge for her death. At the start of the film, M tells Bond that he is too close to the mission to be objective, but Bond assures her that Vesper is no longer important to him. He takes Vesper's photograph and is encouraged by Mathis to "forgive her" and to "forgive [himself]". At the end of the film, it is revealed that Yusef is an agent working for Quantum, tasked with seducing high-ranking women in the world's intelligence agencies. He is then "kidnapped" by Quantum, and the women are forced to become double agents in the hope of securing his freedom. This information vindicates Vesper in Bond's eyes, making him finally see that her "betrayal" was not her fault. He doesn't kill Yusef, but leaves him to MI6 and congratulates M on the fact that she was right about Vesper. As he walks away, he drops Vesper's necklace in the snow.

Related character[edit]

The character of Vesper Lynd does not appear in the 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale. Instead the character was replaced by a new character named Valerie Mathis, played by Linda Christian, who is depicted as an American. She also betrays Bond in the adaptation, but does not die.

References[edit]

  1. ^ McCormick, Donald (1993). The Life of Ian Fleming. Peter Owen Publishers. p. 151.