In the establishing shot over Macau and in the following scenes the filmmakers make it look like something from the time of the opium war. This portrayal as an old Chinese city is highly inaccurate since Macau in reality is Asia's response to Las Vegas with grand casinos and neon lights. Like Hong Kong, Macau is a Special Administrative Region of China, but until 1999 it was a Portuguese colony and gambling was made legal under Portuguese rule. For decades Macau has been heavily dependent on the casino business and the revenue is higher than the revenue from entire Las Vegas.
The skyline used in the film is not real and it is very hard to identify anything from the top picture. Since none of the scenes in the film were shot on location in Macau, the establishing shot is most likely something that was made via computer. What idea production designer Gassner had when he created Macau is not known to me. Most likely they felt that Macau would be more exotic portrayed like something from the colonial era. It is a shame, because Macau is an amazing city with almost 500 years of Portuguese influence in architecture and some of the real parts would certainly have been exotic enough for the film. Although it would have been harder to get away with the interior design in Bond's hotel suite and in the casino if the modern "Vegas-style" Macau had been portrayed for real.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Bond on the big screen, Skyfall is filled with references from Bond's past, and the location of Macau is undoubtedly a reference to The man with the golden gun, in which Bond visits the then Portuguese colony for the first time. In both films Bond is following the lead of an assassin to Macau, the first of course being Scaramanga and now Patrice in Skyfall. On both occasions Bond is also visiting a floating casino.
|The real skyline of Macau and one of the three bridges that connects the Macau peninsula with Taipa|
The Portuguese settled in Macau in the mid 16th century and rented it from the Chinese empire as a trading port. At first it was administered by the Portuguese under Chinese authority but in 1887 they established it as a colony under the Portuguese empire. Macau was handed back to China in 1999, and was the last remaining European colony in China. Under the policy 'one country - two systems', Macau still maintains a high degree of autonomy with their own currency, police force, legal system and immigration policy, even though China is responsible for the territory's defence and foreign affairs.
Apart from that, Portuguese is still an official language (besides Chinese) and remains from Portugal can still be found all over the city.
|A city in China or in southern Portugal?|
|Bond's hotel in Macau in the film|
|The fictitious casino Floating Dragon|