Home > Films > S > The Spy Who Loved Me

Thursday July 18th 2024

The Spy Who Loved Me | 1977

The Spy Who Loved Me location: Cala De Volpe, Sardinia
The Spy Who Loved Me location: Cala De Volpe, Sardinia | Photograph: flickr / paul_si

The tenth in the Bond saga retains no more than the title from Ian Fleming (the author had refused permission to use the story, which he wasn’t pleased with), in a lavish mega-production, with Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) planning to rule an undersea kingdom after destroying terrestrial civilisation.

The spectacular opening ski jump, supposedly at ‘Berngarten, Austria’, was filmed on the 3,000-feet Asgard Peak, 50 miles from the town of Pangnirtung, in Auyuittuq National Park on the east coast of Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada.

The naval establishment, where Bond is briefed about submarines, is Faslane Naval Base, five miles northwest of Helensburgh on Gare Loch, a sea loch extending northwards from the Firth of Clyde in South Argyll and Bute. Headquarters of the Royal Navy in Scotland (and the largest military establishment north of the border) Faslane is home to the UK's submarine-based nuclear deterrent.

Built as an emergency military port during WWII, Faslane was adapted in 1967 to house Polaris missiles and then, from 1992, larger submarines fitted with American-built Trident missiles. Inevitably, as a nuclear base, it’s the source of much controversy, and since 1982 there’s been a permanent Peace Camp outside the gates.

In common with all navy shore stations, the base is officially designated a 'ship', in this case called HMS Neptune.

The Spy Who Loved Me location: Karnak, Egypt
The Spy Who Loved Me location: following Jaws in the temple complex: Karnak, Egypt | Photograph: iStockphoto / jakez

Bond is dispatched to Cairo, Egypt. The black-marketeer, Fekkesh, is killed during the spectacular son et lumière filmed at the Giza Necropolis complex, the three Great Pyramids and the Great Sphinx. Five miles into the desert from the old town of Giza on the Nile, it’s about 15 miles southwest of Cairo city centre. The sound and light shows, in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, are still presented each night. Climbing the pyramids is not allowed but, if you’re not claustrophobic, you can explore the interior.

Bond and KGB Major Amasova (Barbara Bach) find themselves driven out to Luxor, on the Nile about 450 miles south of Cairo, where they follow Jaws (Richard Kiel) into the Great Hypostyle Hall, the maze of giant columns in the temple complex of Karnak, about a mile and a half northwest of Luxor itself. The world’s largest religious building, the Temple of Karnak is actually a massive ‘city’ of temples, built over a period of 2000 years. There’s a rail link from Cairo to Luxor.

Along with the Pyramids, the Temple complex at Karnak is featured in Agatha Christie mystery Death On The Nile and Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.

The Spy Who Loved Me location: Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Spy Who Loved Me location: the joint MI6-KGB HQ: Abu Simbel, Egypt | Photograph: iStockphoto / Flory

Further south still, MI6 have joined forces with the KGB in a joint HQ at the Great Temple of Rameses II, behind the four great statues of the pharaoh, at Abu Simbel. In a phenomenal feat of engineering, the temple was dismantled in the mid-Sixties and moved to higher ground, when the construction of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile threatened to submerge it beneath the waters of Lake Nasser. There are regular buses and boat cruises to the site from Aswan, and yet another son et lumière.

Before heading off to Stromberg’s underwater hideout, Bond and Amasova stay at the huge Hotel Cala di Volpe, Costa Smeralda, perched, like a faux-Mediterranean village, atop the cliffs on the north coast of Sardinia. Sadly, you can’t check into Bond’s room – this was actually the hotel’s Piano Bar.

The second-largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily), Sardinia is part of Italy, and has three international airports. Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, the second largest, is about two miles away from the city centre of Olbia.

The road chase is on a stretch of coast road at Vista Point, on the SP94 about a mile south of the hotel, and on the small piazza of San Pantaleone, to the southwest. Bond’s submersible Lotus Esprit finally comes ashore on the beach at Romazzina, on the coast east of the Cala di Volpe.

The aerial shots of the (huge model) Liparus super-super-tanker swallowing a sub were achieved with models, filmed at Coral Harbor, Nassau, in the Bahamas.

In fact, it was to film the interior of Stromberg’s tanker that the vast 007 Soundstage was constructed at Pinewood Studio in Buckinghamshire. At 374 feet by 160 feet, and 53 feet high, it was the biggest in the world. It was repaired after being badly damaged in a fire during the filming of Ridley Scott’s Legend in 1985.