Behind the Spectre: The Arduous Journey of Bond’s Most Ambitious Installment
When it comes to James Bond, extravagance is the name of the game. With the movie Spectre, Sam Mendes and his team took a bold dive, crafting an adventure as thrilling behind the scenes as it is on screen.
The dazzling locales, from the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City to the snow-capped terrains of Austria, paint a tantalising canvas. Yet, like all masterpieces, the final cut came after a saga of both beauty and chaos.
A Vintage Start at Pinewood, London and then onto Europe
Spectre began its cinematic journey at the iconic Pinewood Studios on 8 December 2014, with a filming schedule spanning a challenging seven months. Early scenes with Daniel Craig and Naomie Harris at Bond’s apartment, and Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear travelling down the River Thames were filmed for early scenes.
London was one of the main locations later Spectre sequences. The Thames played its part again, but instead of chilled moments the roar of speedboats and the whirl of helicopter blades.
Westminster and Lambeth Bridges momentarily paused their usual flow of life and became cinematic playgrounds for some of the most exciting sequences of the movie as Blofeld’s chopper ploughed into Westminster Bridge.
Then onto Europe and the Ice Q Restaurant in Austria, disguised as the fictional Hoffler Klinik, which offered a frosty setting for Bond. In these icy landscapes, Land Rovers clashed, planes crashed, and Craig himself suffered a knee injury during an intense face-off with former wrestler Dave Bautista. Ah, the things we do for cinema!
England’s own Blenheim Palace masqueraded as a Roman location before the crew migrated to the real Eternal City. Rome offered its iconic landscapes for a lavish five-week cinematic escapade. Notable locations like the Ponte Sisto bridge and the storied Roman Forum made for stunning backdrops.
And the ancient cobblestones reverberated with the roar of the specially crafted Aston Martin DB10 and the Jaguar C-X75 for the chase along the Tiber. The local authorities were worried about historic sites here, but they were more concerned with appearance of unsightly graffiti or litter marring the city’s timeless charm in the film.
Mexico City Hosted the Grandest Opening Sequence Yet
But perhaps, the film’s true spectacle was its opening sequence in Mexico City. Contrary to popular belief, the Day of the Dead parade, with its vibrant cavalcade, was an invention of the Spectre team.
While Mendes’s portrayal of this festival was a breathtaking tapestry of colours, behind the scenes it was anything but a smooth dance. Scandals arose, with media speculating that Mexican authorities were finessing script details. Producer Michael G. Wilson refuted these claims, standing by the team’s original vision.
However, in a delightful twist of life imitating art, Spectre ignited such fascination that both local and federal authorities felt compelled to bring its cinematic portrayal to life.
So, combining this newfound global attention with an eagerness to spotlight pre-Hispanic Mexican culture, they orchestrated an authentic “Día de Muertos” parade, weaving through the heart of the zocalo. And from 2016, we have had a Day of The Dead Celebration, and long may this new tradition continue.
Morocco for More Bond Tradition
In Morocco, Spectre left an indelible mark, shattering the Guinness World Record for the most prodigious film stunt explosion. Blofeld’s lair was its victim, reduced to smoky tendrils in the desert air.
Fathom the scale: 2,223 gallons of fuel and 72 lbs. of explosives, a grand spectacle of destruction. But Bond isn’t one for subtlety: it’s about making history with a bang.
Beyond the fire and fury, Morocco beckoned with more nuanced tales. Tangier, with its timeworn cobbled streets, and whispered stories of Bond’s past escapades in The Living Daylights.
Tangier is an emblem of tales both whispered and vividly painted. It captured the imagination of Matisse, and Spectre added another layer to its cinematic mystique.
Watch the train fight with Bond and Mr. Hinx in Oujda…
Merging history with mystery, Spectre’s Moroccan tapestry wove through the vast expansive of Oujda played a pivotal part. Here, the haunting silhouette of the Oriental Desert Express is not merely a mode of transport but a nod to Bond’s long-standing traditions—particularly his penchant for adventures on overnight trains.
One such scene, imbued with quintessential Bond drama, sees Mr. Hinx interrupting a serene journey. What ensues is a pulse-quickening altercation similar to his epic fight with Tee Hee Johnson in Live and Let Die.
The scene culminated in a brilliantly choreographed sequence where Hinx is ingeniously dispatched from the train, and the train ride has now become more of a bucket list for locals and international tourists.
Spectre – A Tapestry of Timeless, Novel, and Thrilling Locations
In the annals of cinema, few film franchises blend their narrative so seamlessly with the backdrop as the Bond franchise, and the Spectre filming locations were as good as ever.
The vast terrains, historic alleyways, and urban landscapes it graces are not merely sets but characters in their own right. These filming locations, spanning continents and cultures, lend an authenticity and grandeur that are quintessentially Bond.
As the reel spins, it isn’t just 007 navigating the globe, it’s us, the audience, whisked away on a journey through these evocative locales. And in Spectre, every scene is a passport to another corner of our mesmerizing world.