This week, the latest James Bond 007 movie, Spectre, will be releasing in movie theatres around the world. This time, there’s added excitement for skiers and boarders: Mr. Bond is back on the snow!
There are long running connections between ski resorts and the 50+ year-old Bond movie franchise. Some resorts still talk about being locations for past Bond movies in the same way that others talk about once hosting a Winter Olympics. It’s a big deal.
For Spectre, the two on-mountain filming locations chosen were the international resort of Solden and lesser-known Obertillich—both in the Austrian Tirol.
Associate producer, Gregg Wilson, explained how he wanted to deliver “an amazing sequence,” which will undoubtedly be one of the major action scenes in the movie. He promises it will be “spectacular” and added that “Austria seemed to have everything we needed to pull it off.”
The scenes in Austria are the latest in a long line of Bond movie appearances on the snow. In fact, skiing and 007 go way back.
It is widely believed that Bond’s identity was in many respects taken from the books’ own author, Ian Fleming’s life. Fleming, born in 1908, spent the early years of his adult life in the late 1920s living in the famous Austrian resort of Kitzbühel. This was one of the earliest Austrian resorts to embrace downhill skiing when the first downhill skis arrived in the village in 1892 after the village’s future mayor read a book about the sport from Norway. Two years later a large consignment of skis arrived from Norway to be used in the first Ski championships at the resort. The first of the famous Hahnenkamm races was staged in 1931.
Although James Bond’s snowy antics were rather limited in the books Fleming wrote, they were written in by movie directors over the years, giving us some of the most iconic moments in both 007 movies and in winter sports films.
Bond has not been on snow for a few movies now, so the Tirol excursion marks a welcome return. Here is a non-comprehensive list of the most famous James Bond ski scenes. Bond aficionados will know of a few more.
1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Original Bond Sean Connery never actually made it on to skis (the closest he got to danger was driving down a mountain road by Andermatt, a pretty Swiss resort). It wasn’t until George Lazenby made his single performance as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that the famous spy hit the slopes. This debut was certainly worth the wait. A large part of the film is based in the beautiful ski resort of Mürren in the Swiss Jungfrau, with a few brief sojourns over to Cortina in Italy.
In the film, the panoramic, revolving restaurant at the summit of Switzerland’s Schilthorn Mountain is turned into the evil hideout of archenemy Ernst Blofeld (Tele Savalas). Located at 9750 feet, there are incredible views all around (not that Blofeld looked out much). The restaurant is solar powered, seats up to 340 guests, and revolves once per hour. Blofeld’s Lair was named ‘Piz Gloria’—a name that has stuck with the restaurant ever since—and they still serve Bond-theme cuisine and gifts.
In fact, the film company is credited with providing the finance to complete building of the restaurant, which was reported to have dried up before the movie producers decided to shoot there.
In August 2015, the new ‘The 007 Walk of Fame’ was opened on the Schiltorn. This new attraction features a spectacular viewing platform via a circular path along the breathtaking narrow mountain crest. Along the trail, a series of plaques pay homage to each of the film’s protagonists, displaying their photograph, signature and hand imprint in weathering steel, a personal message about the film’s impact on their career, and anecdotes of their time in Mürren and on Schilthorn.
2. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
The next ski scene was seven years later with Roger Moore, the star of The Spy Who Loved Me and a genuine regular at Gstaad Ski Resort in Switzerland. This time, the famous scene, an on-ski escape from an ambush in an Austrian chalet, culminates with 007 using his first hi-tech on-snow gizmo, a ski pole that fires poisoned darts, before skiing off a cliff. This turns audience from shock to laughter, then applause as the union jack parachute opens and Bond drifts down to safety.
The film was shot on Baffin Island in Canada and the stuntman who took Moore’s place, Rick Sylvester, was reportedly paid $30,000 for his bravery.
3. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
In For Your Eyes Only, Moore’s sixth Bond movie, the ski chase was becoming an expected feature. This time, there was a chase on the bobsled run, immediately after Bond hits a ski jump. All of this was shot in Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy.
Should you wish to follow in 007’s footsteps, Bond stayed in the famous five-star Miramonti Majestic hotel, located 2km (1.25 miles) from the resort center.
4. From View to a Kill (1985)
The final Roger Moore Bond Film, From a View to a Kill (1985), intro-ed with a snow scene to recreate the success of The Spy Who Loved Me. This time we see a snowboard for the first time—in fact, Bond more or less invents this new sport as far as the uninitiated global public are concerned.
Filmed in Iceland, Bond starts off on skis, hijacks a snowmobile, crashes it, and then uses the broken-off front blade as a primitive snowboard to surf to safety. Roger Moore’s stunt double Tom Sims went on to found the well-known company, Sims Snowboard.
5. The World is Not Enough (1999)
In The World is Not Enough, we saw actor Pierce Brosnan, the fifth Bond in his third movie as 007, jump from the helicopter, shortly before a ski chase ensues.
The ski chase scene was shot in Chamonix, just as the valley suffered a terrible avalanche catastrophe. The 150-strong filming crew stopped production and helped with the rescue effort, using the same helicopters that are seen in movie.
Pierce Brosnan reportedly wasn’t allowed near the slopes of Chamonix, where the ski scenes were shot, until two months after the stuntmen filmed.
So will the snow scenes in Spectre live up to their illustrious predecessors? The world awaits Mr. Bond…