4 Jun 2012

The heart of London

In honor of the diamond jubilee I celebrate the Queen and Empire with one of the most British sites in the world - Big Ben and the houses of Parliament.

The facade has probably been given a good clean since 1964
When establishing London or introducing 'Bond back at the office', various London sites have often been used throughout the series. For these establishing shots, Big Ben have been used on a few occasions. The first time we get a good look on the "London trademark" is in Goldfinger 1964 (I disregard the very dark skyline over London, first seen in Dr No).
The outstanding view from 'London Eye'
Following all the Fontainbleu action in Miami and the gold covered Jill Masterson, Bond heads back to the office in London for debriefing. As an establishing shot, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben is pictured to show that Bond is back in dear old England. Even though it is one of London's most famous buildings it has been used rather sparsely and it would take two more films and another 6 years before Big Ben would be seen again in the series.

On Her Majesty's secret service
The first scene in the pre-title sequence shows Big Ben reflecting in the entrance sign of Universal Exports, the cover name for Mi6. This means that Mi6 would be located in the heart of Westminster, perhaps opposite the white building in the picture below.
Before On Her Majesty's secret service the Mi6 HQ had not been pictured or given an exact position (apart from the exterior in Dr No that possibly portrays the Mi6), hence this is the first time we get an approximate location of Bond's office. Nevertheless this is the only time that Mi6 has been located here. A summary of the other Universal Exports locations can be found here.  After On Her Majesty's secret service it would take another 30 years before Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament would be visible in a film again, namely during the boat chase in The world is not enough and briefly in Die another day, both will be subject to a later post.

Casino Royale

In Casino Royale Big Ben was pictured as an establishing shot over London and the next scene features M and Villiers supposedly coming out from a meeting with some ministers of the Government. A contradiction in itself since that scene actually was filmed at the Strahov Monestary Library in Prague. Casino Royale 2006 was the last time Big Ben was seen in the series but the pictures and trailer of Skyfall shows Craig in action around Westminster and Whitehall. The trailer shows that Big Ben will make a welcomed comeback on the big screen in October. The filmmakers are probably eager to portray the most well-known sites of London as well as returning to the old Bond formula following the poorly executed Quantum of solace.  

Craig in action in front of Westminster Abbey and the Parliament
The best view over Big Ben can undoubtedly be found when riding on the London Eye. But another Bond location where you get a good look over the complex is the "Lazenby lamp post" to the left of Westminster bridge. This location was used for publicity shots of George Lazenby prior to the filming of On Her Majesty's secret service. 

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