Quantum of Solace: Glamorous, Exotic Locations

One of the most consistent traits of every James Bond picture is the choice of glamororus and exotic locations, and in this respect, the 22nd Bond, Quantum of Solace, directed by Marc Forster, does not disappoint.

U.K.

The production was based at historic Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire just outside London. Pinewood has become synonymous with the James Bond films over the years – all but two, LICENSE TO KILL and GOLDENEYE, have been filmed there. The production used the world famous 007 stage and five other sound stages to build the interiors of over 14 different sets over the six month shoot.

The ‘Back Lot’ was also utilized to build the exterior of Perla De Las Dunas, the hotel General Medrano chooses for the money exchange with Greene and the Bolivian Colonel Of Police. The interior of the hotel was built on the 007 stage and fitted with over 50 explosives to film Bond’s violent confrontation with Greene.

Bruneval Barracks, Montgomary Lines in Aldershot doubled for snowy Moscow where Bond tracks down Yusef, the Algerian who betrayed Vesper, and hands him over to MI6. The Barracks were re-opened by Field Marshall Montgomery in 1965 but date back to 1850. Bruneval Barracks was the first permanent training base for the army in England and Aldershot quickly became the biggest centre for the British army earning its name ‘The Home Of The British Army.’

Airside at TAG Farnborough Airport was the location used for the shady meeting between the CIA and Dominic Greene at the Airfield in Bregenz, Austria. Inside the terminal building, Bond’s credit card is rejected as M cuts him off and puts him on the “capture or kill” list at MI6.

Bodyflight, the UK’s first and world’s largest skydiving wind tunnel in Bedford was used by the visual effects department to film James Bond and Camille during their freefall from the DC3 plane in Bolivia. The facility was first built by the MOD to research aircraft control and then for testing ejector seats before it was de-militarised and abandoned in 1997.

Bodyflight director, Paul Mayer, saw the potential of the site after experiencing a skydiving wind tunnel whilst on holiday and spent three years researching the tunnel and gathering funds before opening the centre in 2005. The tunnel is 16.47 feet in diameter (4.95m) and 26 feet tall and simulates the experience you get freefalling at 170 mph without ever having to jump out of a plane!Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko trained with Gary Powell and his stunt team at Bodyflight for several weeks before filming for one day at the site.

Virgin Atlantic Airlines again teamed with Bond having made their first appearance in CASINO ROYALE. Mathis joins Bond at the Upper Class lounge bar and orders his famous Vesper Martini. The Lounge was actually a mock up built at Virgin’s ‘The Base’.

Opened in 2007 by the airline owner and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, The Base is Virgin Atlantic’s newest state of the art training facility where they train their cabin crew in cabin safety, customer service and on-board service. It is the most technically advanced training facility of this kind in Europe, costing 13 million pounds to build, and is large enough to accommodate 4,500 cabin crew at any one time.

The Reform Club in Pall Mall, London, was the location used as the government building where the foreign secretary reprimands M for Bond’s wild behaviour and instructs her to take Bond off Mr Greene’s trail.

The Club will forever be associated with Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, as the place where the idea for his incredible journey was conceived and the famous bet was made. Founded in 1836, and designed by Charles Barry, membership to The Reform Club was restricted to those who pledged their support for the Great Reform Act of 1832. Today, The Reform Club is no longer associated with any particular political party, and is now used purely for social functions.

Panama

The locations in Panama City doubled for the streets and buildings set in Bolivia. The crew began filming in Panama at Howard Airport. The airfield is situated just outside Panama City and was a U.S. Air Force base until 1999. The location was dressed by the art department and served as Bolivia Airport where Agent Fields waits to greet James Bond and Mathis off the plane as they arrive in Bolivia hot on the trail of Dominic Greene.

As well as shooting around the streets of Panama City, the production chose two remarkable buildings for the film. The first was the set of the Andean Grand Hotel, Bond’s choice of hotel on arrival in Bolivia. With that in mind, the art department gave the impressive Inac Building in Casco Viejo a full make-over. Usually the government’s working offices of the Institute Nationale Du Culture (Institute Of Culture), the Inac Building benefited from new awnings, polished floors and a full paint job inside and out. In the film, James Bond stays here with Agent Fields, who meets her demise in the hotel’s honeymoon suite.

Two minutes walk from the Inac building was The Old Union Club, an imposing ruin of what was once the most prestigious private members club in Panama. Rumour has it that it became the head quarters of General Noriega, the infamous dictator of Panama, and was bombed in the US invasion of 1989. The production team took months to clean the area of rubble and rubbish before the art department arrived to build an illuminating bar, hang long peach drapes within the building’s arches and install elegant white lights. Filming took place over four nights, capturing Dominic Greene’s fundraising party scene. Bond and Agent Fields infiltrate the party, only to find Camille already in confrontation with Greene.

Bolivia

The company moved to Colon to continue shooting the scenes set in Bolivia. A massive renovation was implemented by the QUANTUM OF SOLACE production team at the chosen locations in and around Colon. In order to film in some of the more run down residential areas, such as the Fenix Building where Felix Leiter gives Bond some information on Greene’s deal with Medrano, the production carried out extensive repairs to wiring and plumbing making it a safe environment for the filming crew.

Areas of Colon were also used for scenes set in Haiti. Again, a huge renovation project was put in place when Coco Solo was decided upon as the location of the road in Haiti which James Bond drives down whilst calling M to put a trace on Greene’s name. Palm tree lined, Coco Solo was once a prestigious and very pretty residence of the American military. Pastel painted homes with their own private beaches were remembered by some of the local crew who used to visit friends who lived there. When the US invaded in 1989, the houses were left derelict and Coco Solo quickly deteriorated.

Much of Colon’s once beautiful architecture is in rapid decay, and the Arboix Building is no exception. This huge pastel orange building in down town Colon was chosen by the locations department as the Hotel Dessalines, Haiti. In the film, this is James Bond’s first stop on his mission and a fight sequence takes place in one of the rooms at the top of the building spilling out on to the balcony.

A third action unit joined the main unit in Colon to shoot the boat chase sequence, much of which took place at Jetty 3 and Jetty 6, but the final part of the sequence was filmed at Cabra Island where Bond disembarks at a paradise island with Camille in his arms. One hundred years ago the natural island was uninhabitable and used by neighbouring Isle Grande as a cemetery. Today, Cabra Island is privately owned, it represents two and a half hectares of palm trees, macaws, wild deer and butterflies. Situated on a famous smuggling route, it is rumoured by locals that the lead coffin of Sir Francis Drake lies at the bottom of the island’s surrounding coral reef.

Mexico

The aerial sequence was shot in the arid mountains of Baja California, Mexico. A crew of sixty six, led by 2nd Unit Director Dan Bradley, filmed for seventeen days from a small airport near the town of San Felipe. The airport is operated by the local military who maintain a strong presence in the region to deter drug traffickers. In the sequence, Bond flies a vintage DC3 plane (our model was made in 1939) and is attacked by an acrobatic Marchetti armed with machine guns and a Huey helicopter. For environmental and safety reasons no practical effects could be filmed on location, so all gunfire and smoke was added later as a visual effect. The aircraft were joined in the sky by an Aerostar fitted with Snakehead nose and tail cameras and by an Astar helicopter carrying a Spacecam. Two ground camera crews covered the action from the mountains. The locations were so remote the crew and equipment had to be ferried there by helicopter each day.

Chile

Northern Chile brought the wide open barren landscapes envisioned by director Marc Forster to serve as water starved Bolivia. From their hotel base in Antofagasta, the crew travelled for up to two hours each morning to reach the filming locations.

The ESO Paranal (the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere) was used to shoot the exterior scenes set at Perla De Las Dunas in Bolivia. Set at an altitude of 6,000 ft, the observatory is built into the crest of a mountain bordering the southern extremity of the Atacama desert and provides astronomers an environment remote of any dust or light sources – a perfect atmosphere for studying the stars.

Usually occupied by no more than 20 astronomers, ESO welcomed the 300 strong crew as Bond and Camille raced across the roof of the building in pursuit of their nemeses.

Other remote locations in Chile were used for the water starved village Bond and Camille walk through after they discover Greene’s secret, the deserted train station where Bond and Camille part ways, and the vast, barren desert Bond chooses to abandon Greene.

Italy

Surrounded by turquoise sea, Torre di Talamonaccio in Tuscany was used for Mathis’ villa. The privately owned residence is a stone building dating back to 1000AD and was originally built as a fort to protect the mainland. James Bond arrives at the villa in style aboard a vintage Sunseeker speedboat and persuades Mathis to join him on his mission to Bolivia.

The highly anticipated opening sequence of the film was shot by the second unit over eight weeks in three different locations in Italy. Lake Garda, in Northern Italy, marked the start of the Aston Martin vs. Alfa Romeo car chase. The crew moved from Lake Garda to Carrara to continue filming the chase through the 2000 year old marble quarry. Many historic works of art have been carved from Carrara marble; the ancient Romans built Trajan’s Colum and the Pantheon, and Michelangelo sculpted his ‘David’ from the gleaming white stone.

Filming the car chase concluded in the historic centre of Siena where plate shots of the world famous Palio were filmed by a splinter unit the year before. The second unit shot Bond’s chase on foot through the Piazza Il Campo and over the city’s sprawling rooftops. The chase culminates in an art gallery built on the 007 stage at Pinewood Studios back in the UK.

Austria

The Opera House scene, where Bond discovers Greene in a secret meeting with some of the world’s most powerful players, was shot over two weeks of night shoots at the Bregenz Festival House in Austria. James Bond was filmed above the famous set built for the 2007/8 production of Tosca. The current cast performed the opera on the floating stage, surrounded by Lake Constance, in front of the striking giant blue eye. Over 1,000 extras were dressed in black tie and evening dress to fill part of the massive amphitheatre which holds a maximum capacity of 7,000.