Mar 12, 2010 1:00:31 AM
Licence to travel: jet-setting with James Bond
It’s a tough life but someone’s gotta do it: flitting between exotic destinations, schmoozing in glam casinos and disposing of baddies without a backwards glance. While we wouldn’t recommend the last bit unless you really are on Her Majesty’s secret service, it is possible to indulge your less lethal James Bond fantasies by visiting the locations of his movies. Here are 10 to get you started.
Dr No (1962)
Sean Connery and bikini-babe extraordinaire Ursula Andress aren’t the only stars of James Bond’s rollicking cinematic debut. The lush Caribbean island of Jamaica, where most of the action occurs, is practically a character in its own right. Dreamy beaches, edgy Kingston (watch those blind men!), murderous tarantulas and a lilting calypso soundtrack combine to depict a holiday destination that’s both idyllic…and deadly.
From Russia with Love (1963)
Widely considered to be the best Bond film ever, From Russia with Love ups the geographical ante, taking the viewer on a whirlwind tour from Istanbul, via Belgrade and Zagreb on the Orient Express, to Venice. This gripping Cold War saga sees everyone’s favourite MI6 agent front up to assorted SPECTRE psychos and the usual bevy of stunners against an exotic backdrop that features famous landmarks such as Aya Sofya, the Basilica Cistern and Sirkeci Railway Station.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
After faking his own murder in Hong Kong, 007 heads to Japan to investigate some missing spacecraft. Immersing himself in the local culture, he attends a sumo wrestling match, trains with ninjas, eludes assassins in a sexy Toyota 2000GT, and - posing as a dodgy-looking Japanese fisherman - stages a traditional wedding with a woman named Kissy. Meanwhile, we’re treated to a veritable Nippon travelogue, taking in Tokyo, Kōbe, Hyōgo, Himeji Castle and Mount Shinmoe-dake in Kyūshū.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Sadly, James Bond has never made it Down Under, but in this film, Australia makes it to James Bond, in the form of ex-model George Lazenby. In his quest to scupper SPECTRE’s latest dastardly scheme, the Aussie Bond traipses between coastal Portugal and alpine Switzerland. Fans still visit Blofeld’s revolving HQ (now the Piz Gloria restaurant) atop the sky-scraping Schilthorn, though we wouldn’t suggest re-enacting the famous bobsled chase down the mountain slope…
Live and Let Die (1973)
Agent 007 does blaxploitation in this ripping yarn of voodoo, drug-lords and rigged tarot decks. Live and Let Die takes us on a wild ride through African America: from a black-magic emporium in Harlem to a New Orleans jazz funeral, through the croc-infested bayous of Louisiana and on to fictional Caribbean island San Monique. The first Bond flick to star that incorrigible smoothie Roger Moore, it caused a stir with its racial overtones and sizzling locations.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Any film starring Christopher Lee as a triple-nippled hitman named Scaramanga has gotta be good, right? Wrong. The much-maligned TMWTGG is foiled by its incomprehensible storyline, lame love interest (Britt Ekland) and general kung-fu randomness. Luckily, it redeems itself with some glorious Asian settings, primarily those filmed in Phang-nga Province, Thailand. Indeed, the islands of Ko Khao Phing Kan and Ko Tapu (now known as James Bond Island) attract 007 pilgrims to this day.
Who could forget James’s death-defying brawl with uber-villain Jaws on the cable car to Pão de Açúcar in Rio? Or his hilarious hovercraft-fuelled gondola jaunt across Venice’s Piazza San Marco? A fun-filled, sci-fi-tinged blockbuster, Moonraker gives us big-ticket sights and double-entendres galore. Its geographical accuracy may be questionable (Foz do Iguaçu ain’t nowhere near the Amazon!) but for scenic eye candy and one-liners, it can’t be beat.
The Living Daylights (1987)
OK, so a turnip would make a more charismatic JB than Timothy Dalton, but besides that minor grizzle The Living Daylights isn’t half-bad. Defecting Soviet agents and secret arms deals drive the plot, while a dazzling international backdrop ignites our wanderlust. An explosive opening sequence on the Rock of Gibraltar sets the tone, before we’re whisked off to Bratislava, rural England, Vienna, Tangier and Afghanistan (which is really Tangier too, but let’s suspend our disbelief…).
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
The 18th film in the series, Tomorrow Never Dies sees our tireless spy (this time played by pretty boy Pierce Brosnan) battle to save humanity from a megalomaniacal media tycoon’s efforts to set off World War III. A certain amount of poetic license ensues as the French Pyrenees double for the Russian border, Thailand fills in for Vietnam, and the South China Sea is relocated to Suffolk, but much of the Hamburg footage is real…and Hong Kong action heroine Michelle Yeoh totally kicks butt!
Quantum of Solace (2008)
In this convoluted revenge rampage of a movie, James is pitted against a power-crazed faux-environmentalist hell bent on seizing control of Bolivia’s water supply. There’s a hair-raising car chase near Lago di Garda, footage of Siena’s Il Palio festival, a dramatic sequence set on a floating opera stage in Bregenz, and some heart-stopping landscapes in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Having trouble following the plot? Daniel Craig’s pout getting your goat? Sit back and enjoy the views instead!
Of course, it’d be remiss to suggest an itinerary based on the adventures of that most British of super-spies without mentioning London. Home to MI6 HQ, England’s capital regularly appears in the films - you can even take a themed tour of 007 locations around the city.
Have you ever made a Bond pilgrimage? We’d love to hear about your escapades…