One of the highlights of the James Bond franchise is undoubtedly the jet-setting and globe-trotting. For over 50 years Bond has landed in dozens upon dozens of locations. Extensively travelling around Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and both North and South America. Bond’s more exotic adventures see him battling some of his most eccentric antagonists. However, I’ve always preferred it when Bond journeys to lands a bit closer to home. In Europe he always seems a lot cooler, much more at ease and able to blend in to his surroundings (A key trait in being a world class spy). As capable as Bond is, there’s not enough prosthetic makeup and fake eyebrows in existence that can turn Sean Connery into a convincing Japanese man. And irrefutably Roger Moore looks a lot suaver strolling through the streets of Venice than he does when training in a dojo in Bangkok.
The great thing about the film series is that, wherever possible, location shooting was the preferred choice. Showcasing the cities, countrysides and landmarks really adds depth to the movies that translates on screen as pure escapism. As well as looking at the European countries featured in the films, I’ll be looking at the many great European actors / actresses and creative talent that worked on the productions. Another really great factor of the Bond films is the casting of really talented European actors. The producers don’t necessarily cast ‘stars’ in prominent roles and generally favour more obscure (to English and American audiences) performers.
A classic Bond backdrop. From the seminal pre-title sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me to the latest installment Spectre. Austria has been visited numerous times over the years, and the breathtaking snowy landscapes lend themselves perfectly to Bond adventures.
As well as the stunning Austrian locations, a handful of Austrian acting talent has been drafted into the 007 series over the years including:
A couple of jollys to Spain for 007. Most noticeably in numerous locations including Zagroza, Bardenas Reales and Las Majadas in The World is Not Enough and Torremolinos in You Only Live Twice.
One of Spain’s finest exports appearing as Raoul Silva in the acclaimed Skyfall.
Quite a large German influence is present throughout the Bond films. As well as visiting Germany in both Octopussy and Tomorrow Never Dies:
And a wealth of German acting talent that has appeared in the 007 features:
An even bigger German influence would be the automobiles on display:
Naturally when you think of Bond and Switzerland, Blofeld’s iconic clinic in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service springs to mind. Much of the action in the film takes place in or around this extraordinary location. Another quintessential use of Swiss landscapes in the Bond Universe is in Connery’s Goldfinger.
And of course there’s one other Swiss element that 007 fans should be applauding:
As well as the natural James Bond visit to Paris in A View to a Kill. We’ve also seen Bond trek to France to the Drax residence in Moonraker, the Peyresourde Airport in Tomorrow Never Dies, Haute-Savoie in The World is Not Enough, The French Coastline in GoldenEye, Cap D’Antibes in Diamonds are Forever and perhaps more famously:
Also there are an array of popular Bond girls and villains who originate from France:
And of course, one of the most famous French cars of all time:
One of the most featured countries in the franchise. Featured in over half a dozen of the Bond films, Italy is a frequent stamping ground for 007 (Particularly by Daniel Craig, visiting the country in 3 of his 4 current features).
As for the casting of supporting characters (particularly Bond girls), Italians are a popular choice:
And of course, the motors:
As well as the infamous tank scene in GoldenEye Bond has also visited the Russian terrorist market in Tomorrow Never Dies and more recently:
My favourite sequence of the entire film is where Sean Connery is posing as diamond smuggler Peter Franks in Holland’s capital. Including being the backdrop for Diamonds the Netherlands is also the home country of one of the 90’s most memorable Bond characters Xenia Onatopp:
An absolutely integral location for Skyfall. Additionally Scotland also made an appearance in the Moore and Bosnan era:
The 1990’s Bond films featured some heavyweight Scottish acting talent in the form of:
There was one other Scottish bloke that had something to do with James Bond as well… Featured in the early films? His name escapes me… Oh well.
Scotland has also homed a couple of Bond theme artistes, namely:
These are just a handful of the fabulous European locations that Bond has traveled to in the films. We’ve also seen parts of Croatia, Albania, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia and some iconic Bond girls from:
A handful of memorable villains from:
A definite influence from:
And of course the entire series is carried by an overpowering sense of Englishness and Pierce Brosnan’s Irish heritage brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the role.
All these elements, for me, make Bond one of the most diverse series in film history in terms of locations, cast and creative input.