The World Is Not Enough | 1999
- DIRECTOR |
- Michael Apted
Third in the increasingly confident Pierce Brosnan Bonds, given a little more weight than usual by a top-drawer cast and the director of Gorillas in the Mist.
The opening teaser is set against the backdrop of the stunning, titanium-plated Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Avenida Abandoibarra 2, on the Nerrión River in the centre of Bilbao, in the Basque Country of northern Spain. If you think it resembles LA's Disney Concert Hall, that's because it's another design by architect Frank O Gehry.
When test audiences felt a bit short-changed with a single stunt, the titles were shunted back to include the Thames boat chase as part of the pre-credits sequence.
After decades of lurking about in vaguely specified buildings around Whitehall, the intelligence services came out of the closet with the purpose-built post-modern bulk of the MI6 HQ building, Vauxhall Cross, 85 Albert Embankment, on the south bank of the Thames alongside Vauxhall Bridge.
The building made its screen debut as the start of the movie’s river chase, with special effects blowing a hole in the building in the film (though the IRA did a more convincing job in real life). Pierce Brosnan returned to the building, as a shabbier, seedier agent, in John Boorman’s 2001 film of the John le Carré novel The Tailor of Panama.
The subsequent boat chase (much cut down) was shot, not so much on the Thames, as on nearby waterways and docks.
The 'rollover' stunt is at the Royal Victoria Dock, at Canning Town – actually across the Thames from the chase’s climax.
West of the Docklands Light Railway’s Crossharbour Station, in the shadow of the O2 Dome, is Glengall Bridge across Millwall Inner Dock, the bridge under which Bond dives as it closes, on the Isle of Dogs – the great loop in the Thames, which Bond appears to use as a shortcut.
Then it’s back west, toward Wapping, to Tobacco Dock on the tiny Ornamental Canal, at Wapping Lane.
The commercial redevelopment of the dock seems to have failed, with the shopping complex currently deserted and dusty. It’s on the right-angle bend of the Ornamental Canal that the traffic wardens (a dated cameo by long-forgotten, minor celebs from reality-TV) get drenched as Bond’s Q boat leaps up the canal’s steps and tears through the ‘London Canoe Club’ clubhouse (specially built for the movie) alongside the pirate ships of Tobacco Dock.
The temporary MI6 HQ in Scotland is made up of two separate locations.
‘Castle Thane’ itself, though, really is north of the border. It’s Eilean Donan Castle on an islet in Dornie, eight miles east of Kyle of Lochalsh on the A87, Wester Ross, probably most familiar from Highlander, and also seen in 1998 Hindi romance Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, romantic comedy Made of Honor and Shekhar Kapur’s epic Elizabeth, The Golden Age.
The vast, sprawling oilfields of Azerbaijan are the real thing, at Baku on the Caspian Sea, though closer shots are of the familiar old standby Black Park, near to the Pinewood Studios, and Hankley Common, Tilford Road south of Tilford in Surrey. The oil pipeline site itself is at Cuenca, central Spain (but don’t go looking for the beautiful little chapel, which was only a set).
The skiing sequence, where the paragliders attack, supposedly in the ‘Caucasus Mountains’, is high on the slopes of Mont Blanc near Chamonix on the Italian-French border.
From here on ‘Azerbaijan’ is largely fake. The exterior of Electra’s ‘Baku’ palace is Küçüksu Palace, Beykoz, on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, while its interior is Luton Hoo, Hotel, Golf and Spa, near Luton in Bedfordshire, a veteran location seen in Eyes Wide Shut, Pink Panther sequel A Shot in the Dark, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Wilde among many other films. And it provides more backdrops here too, as the casino bar.
The casino itself is Halton House, the one-time residence of Alfred de Rothschild, now used as the Officers' Mess for RAF Halton, Buckinghamshire. It’s featured on-screen as a ballroom in Cruella, in The Queen, in Alan Parker’s Evita, with Madonna, and Bride and Prejudice, as well as in numerous TV productions.
The airport from which Bond makes his nighttime escape is Northolt Airport, South Ruislip.
The ‘Kazakhstan’ site, where Bond meets Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), is Bardenas Reales near Tudela in Spain, while the gleaming pipeline terminal is the Motorola Building at Swindon in Wiltshire. The pipeline itself is in the mountains of Snowdonia in Wales, but the explosion from which Bond and Christmas escape was faked back in Black Park.
M is imprisoned in Kiz Kulesi – Maiden’s Tower – an 11th century lighthouse at the mouth of the Bosphorus at Istanbul, Turkey.