27 Dec 2014

Fast car to Cuba

In Die Another Day Bond drives across half of Cuba from Havana to the fictitious island Los Organos. Bond lends the car from his friend Raoul, a sleeper agent running a cigar factory. Because of the US embargo, fast cars are few in numbers in Cuba. Thus, Bond has to drive a 1957 Ford Fairlane through the Cuban countryside.

The road that Bond is driving on can be found along the coast outside the city of Cádiz in Spain. Naturally, none of the scenes in Cuba were actually shot on location. Instead the filmmakers turned to the south of Spain where the ancient city of Cádiz, together with the surroundings, provided the ideal setting for the film. This road can be found along the Camposoto beach which is located a ten minute drive outside the city of Cádiz.

When leaving the city by car, you drive on Avenida Vía Augusta Julia which connects with the main road, CA-33. After driving for approximately five minutes on CA-33 you will reach a gas station on the right side of the road. Take off here and take the first right in the next roundabout. After driving for less than two kilometers you arrive at the Brosnan road in the southern direction. However, Bond is driving north so drive all the way down and turn at the end of the road and you will drive in the same direction as Brosnan.

On both sides of the road people park their cars when going to the nearby beach. In order to get the clean and undisturbed view of the road, like it looked in the film, you should go there early in the morning and, preferably, off season. If you arrive at noon during the summer months, chances are you might not even be able to recognise the location.

                 "-I Could use a fast car.
                               -Ha, hmm..."

22 Dec 2014

Gibraltar parachute landing

During the exercise at Gibraltar in the pre-title of The Living Daylights, one of the 00 agents participating in the exercise makes a fairly poor parachute landing. He ends up in a tree somewhere at St Michael Road at the top of the rock.

From here you have a beautiful view over the entire city, a view that, unfortunately, was not used very much in the film. This location is easy to find when walking along St Michael Road. When visiting, I would definitely recommend to spend at least one day, or the better part of two days exploring the rock of Gibraltar. Not only because of all the locations, but because of the number of other attractions that should not be missed.

Immediately after landing, the 00-agent is surprised and shot by one of the S.A.S. guards patrolling the area. Glyn Baker, playing 002 in this scene, was cast because of his resemblance to Roger Moore. The other agent, 004, played by Frederick Warder resembled George Lazenby. They were both cast because the filmmakers wanted to play with the audience's expectations of which of the three 00 agents that in fact was Bond. It would however take a few more scenes before we get to see the new 007 for the first time.

"That's it chum! You're out of it..."
   - The S.A.S. guard to 002 -

Gibraltar is still a British Overseas territory, and has been since since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. This naturally, made it an easy and convenient filming location for the Bond crew in 1987.

Today, Gibraltar still has a handful of military units stationed in the territory. Since 2006, Gibraltar governs its own affairs, though some powers, such as defense and foreign relations, remain the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government in the UK.

15 Dec 2014

La Clinica Alvarez - part two

After fighting Zao inside the clinic, Bond blows a hole in the wall and tries to catch the helicopter before Zao escapes. Jinx takes few shots at the helicopter as Bond follows her up on the wall. The entire action sequence was filmed at Castillo de San Sebastián in Cádiz, Spain. The part where Jinx dives in can be found on the most western part on the fort, just above the courtyard.

"- A so called beauty parlor. We've heard 
of such a place but didn't think it really existed. 
           - It doesn't anymore..."       

Jinx follows the helicopter as it leaves the courtyard, runs up a slope and takes one last shot at Zao before the Cuban guards arrive. Bond stops just before Jinx dives into the lagoon. She halts in front of one of the big cannons that were located on the western wall.

Unfortunately during my visit, the big guns had been removed, probably due to renovation. However, it was still easy to determine the exact position since the old holes are still there. One can only hope that the guns will be brought back after renovation, but give the condition of the fort, I fear that they have outlived their contracts. It appears that the fort is being turned into some kind of modern museum.

7 Dec 2014

La Clinica Alvarez - part one

The Alvarez Clinic, located in Los Organos in Cuba, plays a mayor part during Bond's visit to Cuba in Die Another Day. The clinic can be found in the north-western part of Cádiz, Spain. The mysterious clinic, specialising in gene therapy, is in reality an old fortification named Castillo de San Sebastián, dating from the early 1700's. 

You have the same view over the fort as Brosnan in the film, from the beach located along Avenida Duque de Nájera, called La Caleta. It was on this beach that Bond's fictional hotel, El Gran Palacio was located, so the real location was used in the film. However, the promenade that functions as a link between the fort and the city was edited out in the film (compare the two pictures above) to make it look as if the clinic was situated on an island. But you can, in reality, walk out to the fort.

Most of the action takes place in the courtyard, where Zao escapes with the helicopter and up on the wall from where Jinx dives into the lagoon. After finding Zao in the hospital, Bond loses him and Zao manages to escape through the office window of the late Dr. Alvarez, murdered by Jinx. When Jinx's mobile bomb explodes and a piece of the wall blocks the window, Bond has to find an alternative exit.

A fictitious helipad was constructed in the middle of the courtyard for the film. Jinx hides behind a piece of ruin left in the courtyard and takes a few shots at Zao as he gets into the helicopter. Unfortunately there is little left to identify this location since almost every facade have been renovated. The only thing that has survived is the Jinx's ruin.

When the helicopter escapes, Jinx runs up a slope towards the big guns located on the western wall.  There are also small steps next to the facade, where Bond later runs up after Jinx. Sadly both the slope and the steps are gone. It is possible that they were built specifically for the film. There is however another slant that leads up to the wall from the courtyard, visible to the very left in this left picture.

26 Nov 2014

Paris Police Station

In A View to a Kill, Bond gets arrested by the French police after chasing May Day through Paris in a stolen taxi. Bond ends up at the Paris Police station where he, supposedly the morning after, is picked up by M.

Bond, M and Sir Godfrey are driven off along the river Seine in a Peugeot 604 limousine.

The car comes out from a building that is supposed to be the police headquarters, and the Paris police can still be seen coming out of this building, but in fact, the building also houses the French Court of last instance, or the court of last resort. It is called the Conciergerie and is located in the heart of Paris on Île de la Cité.

The building can be found along the Quai de l'Horloge. Some of the high courts and tribunals of France are located in the adjacent buildings.

The Conciergerie is the oldest remaining part of the Palais de la Cité, the first royal palace in the French capital that was used as a prison during the French Revolution. The building with its characteristic round towers can also be found on postcards throughout the city.

On the other side of the river Seine are the real headquarters for the Prefect of Police, where Bond probably would have been picked up by M today.

8 Nov 2014

The Persuarders! - Lord Sinclair's London residence

In the third episode of The Persuaders! named 'Take Seven', we get to see the exterior of Lord Brett Sinclair's London apartment. Lord Sinclair resides at the prestigious Queen Anne's gate. Located only ten minutes from the Abbey and Big Ben, this is the very heart of London.

Brett's very ''subtle'' Aston Martin is conveniently parked just outside his front door, although I do not expect people to have the same respect for his Lordship's parking space today and leave it unblocked.

The fictitious number 53 was used in the episode. In reality, Lord Sinclair's residence can be found at No. 15.

This is probably one of the better residential areas in London, considering that you are in the very city centre, and you do not hear a sound from the London traffic. All the historic signs on the houses also reveal the high reputation this street has enjoyed over the decades.

As Brett and Danny leave the apartment and drive off in Brett's Aston Martin, they are followed by a suspicious man in a car, not entirely unlike several other episodes in the series. In the background, as they drive off, between the two houses at the end of the street, Big Ben is visible. The metal fence in front of the building appears to be the same as in 1971. The bad guy is driving a Fiat 125, probably equally bad as any of the small British cars produced at the time.

Big Ben visible between the houses at the end of the street

To put Lord Sinclair's apartment on this street was probably a decision of the filmmakers that was based on the street's history. The houses along this very street have been homes to several Lords over the past centuries, and several houses have round blue signs that informs visitors about the historic significance. Hence, this apartment has probably been in the Sinclair family for generations, passed on to the eldest son of every Sinclair generation, presently in the hands of Brett.

1 Nov 2014

El Gran Palacio Hotel, Cuba - Cadiz

In Die Another Day, Bond checks in to El Gran Palacio Hotel, supposedly located in Cuba. The Hotel has a convenient view over Los Organos and the Alvarez Clinic, which has attracted Bond's attention. Through his friend Raoul, Bond has learned that Zao is hiding at the strange clinic and Bond drives there in a Ford Fairlane supplied by Raoul. Bond is arriving at what can only be presumed to be the best hotel in town, conveniently located right on the beach.

The building, however, is not located in Cuba, and it's not a hotel. This scene and the following scenes at the beach were filmed on the Spanish Atlantic coast, namely, in the old part of the city of Cádiz. The "hotel entrance" is actually only a small building that is connected via a short path, to the larger building that was used as Bond's hotel in the film, situated right on the beach.

                     "Mojito por favor."

Originally, the entire complex was build as a spa in the 1920's, named Spa of Nuestra Señora de la Palma y del Real. Today, the building houses a maritime centre, Centro de Arqueología Subacuática de Andalucía. Apparently, the sub-aquatic centre specialises in the investigation and protection of marine life. The main building is not open to the public.

Brosnan walking in with "The birds of the West Indies" in his hand.

'El Gran Palacio Hotel' is, naturally, a must see when in Cádiz. The entire location is very recognisable and the fact that the rest of the hotel scenes as well as Halle Berry's coming out of the water scene were filmed on this location makes it very enjoyable. From the beach in front of the marine centre, you have an actual view over 'La clinica Alvarez', so you can easily spend a few hours in the sun on this beach.

The fictious sign in the film has clearly been inspired by the real sign.

According to the map in Raoul's office, Los Organos would be located in the Guadiana Bay in the very western part of Cuba. Bond has probably driven across half of Cuba and then taken a boat to Isla Los Organos, which would explain how he can arrive by car.
In Cádiz, driving along Avenida Duque de Nájera in the southern direction you will arrive the same way as Bond did in the film. Do not expect to find a parking space as easily as Brosnan did though. The rest of Bond's hotel and the Alvarez clinic will be covered later.