18 Apr 2013

Blades fencing club and the Foreign Office

Die another day
A few locations have doubled for different places throughout the series, for example Somerset house that was used as the Ministry of Defence in Tomorrow and as a Russian square in the middle of S:t Petersburg in GoldenEye. Another location that was used in both Die another day and Quantum of Solace is the Reform Club in London.
In Die another day, Bond meets with Gustav Graves at the fencing club ''Blades''. After an old fashioned sword fight, where they destroy a good part of the club, Gustav settles his lost wager in the lobby.

"My my, they do get around. But then diamonds are for everyone."
                               -Gustav Graves-

Filmed in the upper gallery, overlooking the square atrium on the ground floor
The scenes at Blades were filmed at the renowned Reform Club in central London. A classic gentlemen's club that was founded in 1836 and probably the most sought after club for any Bond fan. Originally membership was restricted to those who pledged support for the Great Reform Act of 1832 (given middle-class men the right to vote) and the liberal club was meant to be a counterweight against the Tories. Today the political connection is gone, even though the club maintain its liberal and progressive traditions. Since 1981 the Reform Club is open for female members.
The exterior of the Reform Club, located at 104 Pall Mall
The fencing scenes at Blades are among the highlights of the film, even though Madonna's role as fencing instructor Verity is totally pointless and, just like the title song utterly worthless. Madonna's appearance ruins an otherwise splendid scene between Brosnan, Stephens and Pike at the club. Part of the sword fight was filmed in the upper gallery of the club juxtaposed with scenes filmed at Pinewood and the "lobby" scene with Bond and Graves was filmed in the square atrium on the ground floor, located a few steps up from the entrance of the club.

Bond gets the key to the Mi6 underground station 
After sending off Graves and Frost in the lobby, Bond receives M's calling card: the key to a secret underground station that is part of Mi6. During this scene you see the floor pattern in the Reform Club lobby. The floor can be recognized in Quantum of solace (see below).

     "You're a rare challenge Mr Bond."
Part of the sword fight shot in studio

Quantum of Solace
In Quantum of solace, M has been called in to the Foreign Secretary to explain Bond's actions in Bolivia. Before entering his office, she walks down the hallway of the Foreign Office with Tanner. This scene was also filmed at the Reform Club. The stairway and statue in the background can be recognized from the scene at Blades, as well as the floor from the square atrium.

In 2011 I was fortunate enough to visit the club and the interior is absolutely magnificent. Both the atrium on the ground floor and the upper gallery, where part of the sword fight took place, still look exactly like in the two films. The atrium is reminiscent of an Italian courtyard, and inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture, this is one of the finest Victorian buildings in the country. The building has remained almost unchanged since completion in 1841 (a few years after the founding of The Reform Club). The stairs (seen behind M) is elegantly decorated with tunnel-vaulted mirrors that creates the effect of a massive staircase.
The feeling you have when you walk up the stairs to the upper gallery even surpasses the feeling you have at the Peninsula in Hong Kong or Casino Monte Carlo. Unfortunately, photography is prohibited and in places like this you do not even want to try if you are not a member. I suppose I have to wait for a membership...

And if you don't wear a tie, do not even try to get in.

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