Moonraker Comparison

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Moonraker Comparison - James Bond Characters from the Movie who appear in the novel:

Novel Synopsis:
M asks Bond to investigate Sir Hugo Drax, a World War Two prisoner of war and head of a privately sponsored Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) development program. Drax also has a monopoly on a substance called columbite, which makes development of the missile possible because of it's resistance to the high temperatures required for the propulsion of an ICBM. Drax has developed the Moonraker, a missile capable of ensuring the safety of England because of its near-limitless range. Drax boasts that his Moonraker will keep England safe from nuclear attack because of the potential to counter-attack any nation on the planet.

M asks Bond to investigate Drax as a personal favor. M admits that he doesn't really have any basis for investigating Drax, except that he cheats at cards during their games of bridge at the Blades Club. M finds it odd that a billionaire cheats consistently at cards and questions Drax's character. After drinking a champagne and Benzedrine cocktail, Bond accompanies M to Blades and discovers that Drax is cheating by using the reflections off of his cigarette case to see the cards as he deals them. During one of the breaks in the game, Bond reveals his discovery to M. Bond decides to cheat Drax and his partner to teach them a lesson. Bond stacks two decks and deals he and M the perfect hands. He and M win £15,000 and Drax is furious.

The following morning, Bond is called to investigate an apparent suicide by one of the German workers in Drax's facility who killed the security chief, Major Tallon, before committing suicide. Bond takes the place of the head of security, and works alongside Gala Brand, an undercover Special Branch agent posing as Drax's secretary. Bond is tasked with making sure that the Moonraker facility is secure for the test launch to occur a few days later. While working at the facility, Bond notices a number of suspicious activities, including the fact that all of the technicians speak German and they all have strange moustaches. Bond's suspicions are confirmed the following day when an explosion causes a cliff to fall on he and Brand as they're resting on the beach, nearly killing them. Gala is captured when she is attempting to steal flight plan data that shows that Drax plans to fire the Moonraker on London, and it's fully armed with an atomic warhead. Bond is also captured, and Brand tells him of Drax's plan.

Moonraker Comparison - James Bond Having captured Bond and Brand, Drax explains the truth behind his background. To the world, Drax was known as a German POW in WWII who made it good for himself through hard work and shrewd buisiness. However, as it turns out, Drax was actually a German spy who was mistakenly thought to be a British citizen after he suffered an accident that destroyed most of his face, effectively masking his true appearance. Drax grew up in England and was teased throughout his youth. This is the basis of his hatred of the English. Drax's mother was British and his father was German, so in his youth, he was moved to Germany. Drax joined the Nazi party and worked as a covert agent behind Allied lines in Southern Europe. During one of his missions, he stole the uniform of a British soldier, but was severely injured in attempting to sabotage a farmhouse. Later, he was found by a British patrol, and was assumed to be a missing British soldier, Hugo Drax. After recovering from his wounds, Drax went on to become a powerful businessman, always intending to get revenge on England.

Having revealed his true identity, Drax leaves Bond and Brand to initiate the firing of the Moonraker. Bond and Brand escape through a ventilation shaft using a blowtorch. After the Moonraker's course is set to fire on London, they emerge from the shaft and Brand re-calibrates the trajectory of the Moonraker so that it falls into the North Sea, it's original destination. After Drax has set the Moonraker for launch, he boards a Soviet submarine and heads off into the North Sea. Drax is killed by his own Moonraker as it falls close to the location of the sub.

Throughout the novel, Bond had increasingly grown fond of Brand. However, the novel closes with a curt meeting between the two. Bond had always assumed that the engagement ring that Brand wore was a cover to help her keep Drax and his men at bay. However, she reveals to Bond that she is, in fact, happily engaged, and that her life plans will never include him. After a quick farewell, they go their separate ways.

Moonraker Comparison - James BondDifferences:
  • Aside from Drax and the fact that the Moonraker is something rocket-powered, there is very little retained from the novel in the film version.
  • In the novel, Drax's scheme is to destroy London with the Moonraker, an atomic rocket. In the movie, Drax's scheme is to destroy humanity with a lethal gas, carried into space by the Moonraker, a space shuttle.
  • Gala Brand and Dr. Holly Goodhead share only a few common characteristics, namely, that they're both double agents and they're both women. Other than that, Brand works for England and Goodhead works for the US. Brand is working as Drax's secretary while Goodhead is an astronaut on loan from NASA. Goodhead accepts Bond's advances while Brand rejects them.
  • It's also interesting to note that neither Jaws nor Chang are characters in the novel and appear extensively throughout the movie.
  • In the movie, all we know about Drax is that he is building the Moonraker shuttles and loaning them out to England. Bond investigates Drax when one of the shuttles is hijacked. In the novel, M's suspicions about Drax are based on his cheating at cards.
  • Drax's background as a Nazi party member is completely absent from the movie version.
  • None of the action in the novel occurs in space. In fact, none of the science-fiction elements of the movie are based on situations described in the novel.