|“||You know, I never understood all these elaborate tortures. It's the simplest thing to cause more pain than a man can possibly endure. And of course, it's not only the immediate agony, but the knowledge that if you do not yield soon enough, there will be little left to identify you as a man. The only question remains: will you yield, in time?||„|
|~ Le Chiffre as he tortures James Bond.|
Le Chiffre is the main antagonist of the Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, the 1954 television adaptation, and the 1967 film of the same name. He is also a major antagonist in the James Bond film series, being the main antagonist in the 2006 film Casino Royale, and a posthumous antagonist in Quantum of Solace, and Spectre. His alias is French for "The Cipher" or "The Number". Ian Fleming based the character on Aleister Crowley.
In the novel, not much is known about Le Chiffre's origins, except that he was found in the Dachau displaced persons camp in the US zone of Germany in 1945, before being transferred to Alsace-Lorraine and Strasburg 3 months later with a stateless passport. He adopted his moniker as he considered himself "only a number on a passport". He is the paymaster of a French trade union secretly controlled by the Soviet agency SMERSH.
In the 2006 film, Le Chiffre is Albanian by birth (though officially stateless), and his one notable physical feature was a defective tear duct, which causes him to cry blood. He works for a mysterious group called Quantum, and finances terrorist groups by investing millions of dollars and forcing stock market shifts through terrorist acts. It is implied that he profited off the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The video game adaptaion of Quantum of Solace gives him the birth name Jean Duran.
In the 1954 television adaptation, he was portrayed by the late Peter Lorre, who also played Hans Beckert in M. In the 1967 film, he was portrayed by the late Orson Welles, who also played Harry Lime in The Third Man and Hank Quinlan in Touch of Evil. In the 2006 film, he was portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen, who also played Captain Rochefort in The Three Musketeers, Hannibal Lecter in the NBC television series Hannibal, Cliff Unger in Death Stranding, Chick Hicks in the of Danish version of Cars, Randall Boggs in the Danish version of Monster's Inc., and Kaecilius in the 2016 film Doctor Strange.
Le Chiffre is the paymaster of Syndicat des Ouvriers d'Alsace (Alsatian Workmen's Union), a trade union run by SMERSH. He makes a major investment into a string of brothels with SMERSH's money, which ends badly after prostitution is banned. In order to reclaim his lost funds, Le Chiffre travels to Royale-les-Eaux and hosts a high stakes baccarat game with the goal of earning 50,000,000 francs. Secret Service agent James Bond is sent to take part in the game and bankrupt Le Chiffre. Things do not bode well for 007 when Le Chiffre manages to clean Bond out of his funds, but CIA agent Felix Leiter gives him 32,000,000 francs, putting Bond back in the game. Despite the fact that one of Le Chiffre's henchman attempts to kill Bond, Bond wins the game and costs Le Chiffre 80,000,000 francs belonging to SMERSH.
In a desperate attempt to get the money back, Le Chiffre kidnaps Bond and his love interest, Vesper Lynd, and subjects the former to torture, threatening to kill them both if he is not told the location of the money. When he realizes that Bond will not talk, Le Chiffre prepares to castrate him, only to suddenly be shot by a SMERSH agent as punishment for his failure.
Le Chiffre's first scheme presented in the movie is an attempt to make money for Quantum by investing $101,206,000 that Lord's Resistance Army member Steven Obanno had entrusted to him by investing it in an airline company called SkyFleet. He plans to gamble on the stock by purchasing put options and then ordering the destruction of their new prototype plane. Bond foils the plot, however, and Le Chiffre loses his total investment. Le Chiffre sets up a high stakes Texas Hold 'em poker tournament at a casino in the Balkan nation of Montenegro to win the money back.
The Poker Tournament
MI6, who knows Le Chiffre is funding terrorism but cannot prove it, dispatches Bond to Montenegro to compete in the exclusive tournament; his mission is to win the tournament and bankrupt Le Chiffre completely, after which MI6 would offer him asylum from his clients in exchange for information on them. Le Chiffre arrives in Montenegro and bribes the police chief to protect him. The police chief is exposed as corrupt by MI6 Agent Rene Mathis, costing Le Chiffre his official protection. Le Chiffre later meets Bond, who is using the alias Mr Beach. However, Le Chiffre learns who Bond really is after the Swiss banker Mr Mendel asks that Bond put a password into an encryption.
During a break in the game, Obanno threatens to kill Le Chiffre and his girlfriend Valenka for losing the LRA's money, but Le Chiffre swears he will win it back. (Bond later kills Obanno, taking some of the pressure off Le Chiffre.)
When the game resumes, Le Chiffre has Valenka poison Bond's drink. However, British Treasury agent Vesper Lynd revives Bond with a defibrillator, and he returns to the game and defeats Le Chiffre, taking all of his money.
In a last act of desperation, Le Chiffre kidnaps Vesper, presumably unaware that she is in fact a reluctant double agent for Quantum. Bond pursues them only to be captured himself, and Le Chiffre tries to get the password from him; when Bond refuses, Le Chiffe tortures him by whipping him in the testicles with a knotted rope. Bond refuses to give in, taunting Le Chiffre that his clients will hunt him down and kill him for losing their money. However, Le Chiffre gloats that even if he kills Bond and Vesper, MI6 would still grant him asylum in return for information on his clients, declaring that he will win either way. Bond still refuses to give in, so Le Chiffre threatens to castrate him. At that moment, however, Mr. White, Le Chiffre's immediate superior in Quantum, breaks into the room and shoots Le Chiffre in the head because he can no longer be trusted.
In the film, it is revealed that Quantum was a subsidiary of SPECTRE, making Le Chiffre an agent of the latter organization. It also turns out that Le Chiffre was nothing but a pawn alongside Mr. White, Dominic Greene and Raoul Silva, all of them used by Ernst Stavro Blofeld (the leader of SPECTRE) as part of a long-term plan to control all the classified information in the world and inflict pain upon Bond, his former foster brother.
- Le Chiffre has dichromatic eyes (his right eye is brown, his left eye is blue). This could be attributed to the injury that he sustained in his left eye.
- Le Chiffre is the first (and so far, the only) Bond villain to die before the climax.
- Although Mr. White is his superior, Le Chiffre serves as The Heavy because he is the one driving the plot, which makes Mr. White the Big Bad and the one behind the plot.