Nov. 9, 2012 --
Bond, James Bond, returns to theaters across the United States today in "Skyfall." Our favorite British spy goes shirtless on several occasions in this latest escapade, but always finds a way to travel in style. "Skyfall" marks 50 years of 007 and, as with all James Bond films, the setting and scenery are just as important as the cars and the gadgets. Indeed, "geography is critical to the James Bond series," writes geopolitics professor Klaus Dodds at Royal Holloway, University of London. Here, Daniel Craig stands next to an Aston Martin DB5 - the first and most famous James Bond car.
"When Ian Fleming invented the superspy James Bond he did so writing at his home Goldeneye in (Oracabessa), Jamaica. Having been a wartime naval spy, Fleming was eager to convey a strong sense of intrigue and excitement," says geopolitics professor Klaus Dodds at Royal Holloway, University of London. Flemming, who had worked as a Lieutenant Commander in the British Naval Intelligence, had named his estate "Goldeneye" after the codename for a American-British operation he was involved in that monitored Spanish developments following the Spanish Civil War. Here, Roger Moore poses driving a speedboat during the filming of the James Bond film "Live And Let Die" on March 1, 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica.
The James Bond movie "GoldenEye," starring Pierce Brosnan in 1995, was the first Bond film made after the end of the Cold War and dissolution of the Soviet Union. The movie was also the first Bond film to not rely on Fleming's books for the plot. Here, the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, is used as a location for the James Bond film "GoldenEye."
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"Bond could not have any old mission. He had to be seen to be traveling to interesting and indeed exotic places that most of his western readers could only have dreamed about," says geopolitics professor Klaus Dodds at Royal Holloway, University of London. "If they sounded more familiar like France, as opposed to Japan, then Bond had to stay in top hotels or visit exclusive resorts while chasing or confronting the evil genius or criminal/terrorist network." British actor Roger Moore on set of the James Bond movie "A View to a Kill" with half a car during filming in Paris, France in August 1984.
"Fleming liked to travel. In his book Thrilling Cities (1963), published close to his eventual death in 1964, Fleming recalls traveling to 13 cities including Hong Kong, Las Vegas, New York, Berlin, Venice and Vienna. Many of these cities were to feature in his Bond novels and later in the films," says geopolitics professor Klaus Dodds at Royal Holloway, University of London. "Once the films started to be released in 1962 onwards, geography became an even more important element in the narrative arc of the film. From Dr. No (1962) onwards, a patchwork of places provided an essential element in the development of the story. His visits to M’s Office in London were one such element in the geography of James Bond. Reassuring stable, and rather old fashioned, Bond learned of his impending mission. In From Russia with Love (1963), Bond is quickly dispatched to Istanbul, which serves to highlight well both the exoticism of the Oriental city and the fault-lines of the Cold War. We sometimes forget that airline travel was only for the very privileged in the 1960s so filmmakers had a certain license to stereotype." Here the Eminönü district of Istanbul, Turkey, lights up with restaurants and trendy cafes under the Galata bridge spanning the straits of the Golden Horn. In the background the Yeni Cami (New Mosque) in seen in the historic center, classified as a World Heritage by UNESCO.
"Places were useful for generating a sense of exotic and intrigue. But they were also essential in providing sites for the evil genius’ hiding place. Whether to be found in space, underwater, in volcanoes, underground and or atop of mountains, the evil genius’s lair provided a powerful climax to a Bond film," says geopolitics professor Klaus Dodds at Royal Holloway, University of London. "It had to look and appear challenging, it had to test Bond’s inventiveness and resourcefulness and ideally it could be blown up or dismembered. The creative genius of Sir Ken Adam was a vital element in set construction during the 1960s and 1970s, and he provided a benchmark for later movies." Piz Gloria atop the Schilthorn in the Swiss Alps, Canton Bern, Switzerland. Though not the first rotating restaurant in the world, as it claims, it was in part built for use as the evil hideout for the 1969 James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
An amphibious vehicle taking tourists on a trip at the Jokulsarlon ice lagoon which was a setting in "A View to a Kill" (1985 with Roger Moore) and "Die Another Day" (2002 with Pierce Brosnan). The rapid retreat of the Breidamerkurjokull glacier which sweeps down off the Vatnajokull ice cap, created the ice lagoon. Ice bergs continue to calve off the front of the glacier and float into the lagoon before floating out to sea. All of Iceland's glaciers are retreating rapidly, and are predicted to disappear completely in the next 100 years.
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Irish actor Pierce Brosnan as 007 with Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin, on location in Thailand for the James Bond film 'Tomorrow Never Dies', 1997.
"But the role of places also changes in the Bond films," says geopolitics professor Klaus Dodds at Royal Holloway, University of London. "In the Daniel Craig era, M’s office is a very different place and MI6 by this time has already been subject to a direct assault in The World is not Enough (1999). London is no longer a safe place. Bond is seen traveling ever wider and quicker to a diversity of places. In Quantum of Solace, he visits Austria, Italy, Bolivia, and Haiti in a desperate attempt to discover who has infiltrated MI6. Bond’s hyper-mobility has always been part of the appeal of this footloose spy." The White Taj Lake Palace, a luxury hotel made of marble, is well known as Monsunpalace in the James Bond 007 Film Octopussy. The hotel was built by Maharaja Udai Singh II in Lake Pichola in Udaipur, India.
"But places can also perform a different kind of marketing role. It probably makes commercial sense to situate Skyfall in Shanghai China," says geopolitics professor Klaus Dodds at Royal Holloway, University of London. "Casino Royale (2006) was the first film to be premiered there and China is a huge market for the Bond producers. So as well as providing important opportunities to generate intrigue and danger, places can be used to market and develop audiences. Earlier Bond films such as Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) used a high profile Chinese origin actor (Michelle Yeoh) and a controversial story involving Anglo-Chinese tension." "When we look back over fifty years of James Bond films, we need to acknowledge that geography has been critical to the continued success of this super spy. Identifying film locations is one of the most important decisions any Bond producer takes."
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