For years people have tried to categorize James Bond fans - the Fleming purists, the Connery idolizers, the lifestylers, and numerous others - each segment with its own set of values, opinions, and passions. The newest segment emerging in the past decade of Bond fandom is the location hunter. Spearheaded by 2 European James Bond fans, James Bond film location hunting has moved from "I wonder where that was filmed?" to "Here's where that was filmed, here's how you get there, here's where you park, here's who you need to talk to, and here's how much it is to get in."
In the early 90s Dutch Bond fan Martijn Mulder created a website called The James Bond Locations Page, and one of his earliest contributors was Dirk Kloosterboer from Germany, who shared information about Jamaican locations. Mulder and Kloosterboer soon joined forces and created the revamped website "On the Tracks of 007" and produced a CD-Rom filled with photos and information about Bond filming sites. Sadly Kloosterboer passed away in 2004, but Mulder continues the location hunting legacy with the website and a brand new book version that is undoubtedly the Bond filming location hunter's bible.
Available in both print and digital download (PDF) format, the 288 page book, with an introduction by Guy Hamilton, is chock full of gorgeous photographs, maps, behind the scenes information, amusing stories, hotel and restaurant reviews, and travel trips to help one get the most out of following the tracks of 007. Covering all 22 Eon Bond films plus Never Say Never Again, the book takes you from the sumptuous gardens of Istanbul to the frozen top of Piz Gloria, into the ocean off Nassau to a steaming volcanic crater in Japan and everywhere in between.
In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I made two small contributions to the book - I helped write one of the sidebars about OHMSS and helped locate one of the entries for the Portugal chapter - and it serves as an amusing demonstration of how location discovery can be as much about luck as anything else. Mulder, Kloosterboer, and I along with a few friends were in Lisbon trying to locate the gardens seen during the romantic interlude of OHMSS. We toured a site that was very similar (and to our surprise it even had a black cat) but it was not the filming location. I had a number of contact sheets from the filming and Martin had printed out screen shots but nothing was matching up.
During a break from the location hunting we toured one of Portugal's most famous monuments, Cristo Rey, the mammoth statue of Jesus Christ that overlooks the Tagus River, which was created to commemorate Portugal's neutrality during World War II. There was a souvenir shop inside the statue, and while perusing a guidebook I found a picture that was quite obviously the garden filming location - it turned out to be 17th century Palacio des Marqueses de Fronteira. So while normal people go to church to find Christ - we went to Christ to find James Bond locations.
Thankfully travel has become much more accessible since Fleming wrote the James Bond novels. On The Tracks of 007, the Thrilling Cities of the Internet age, is a wonderful look at some of the world's most beautiful places, and a peek behind the curtain at the challenges of film making and what makes James Bond films so glamorous.
- Charles Helfenstein
Author of 'The Making of On Her Majesty's Secret Service' and 'The Making of The Living Daylights'