Monday, 28 July 2014

Mount Schilthorn, Switzerland


   
Searching for suitable locations for ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, the film’s art directors were looking for a luxurious accommodation high in the Swiss Alps to serve as the secret location of James Bond’s arch enemy Blofeld. When they found out about a revolving restaurant being built on top Mount Schilthorn in the canton of Bern nearly 3000 meters high, it turned out to be the ideal place.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 0:49:56
The building was designed by the architect Konrad Wolff. For 3 million Swiss francs the movie company was allowed to use the restaurant before its opening to the general public.
The interior of the restaurant and the helicopter platform had to be paid by them as well. Principal shooting started on 21 October and ended on 21 December 1968.

The memory of James Bond and the shooting of the movie is still being kept alive, starting in the valley at the ticket machine. The journey goes up in four sections (Stechelberg - Gimmelwald - Birg - Schilthorn) in 30 minutes and gets the visitor in the mood with music in the gondolas and the 007-logo on the ticket and in the buildings, amongst others.


In the movie Piz Gloria is owned by Draco Blofeld (Telly Savalas) who poses as count Balthazar of Bleuchamp. James Bond (George Lazenby) in his turn pretends to be genealogist Sir Hilary Bray.
The day of our visit started with heavy clouds and Piz Gloria - the restaurant maintained the name from the film - was hardly visible.

Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014
Bond World, 30 June 2014

We decided to go to the interactive exhibition Bond World first which was opened on 28 June 2013 by George Lazenby himself, in person (see also this report on YouTube). Here the history and the making of the film is being told. Images from the movie can be seen and the original script is on display.

Bond World, 30 June 2014
Bond World, 30 June 2014

Designing 007, Rotterdam, 11 January 2015
Very recognizable from the film is the coat of arms of Bleuchamp with eagles, boars and the motto ‘Arae et Foci’ (loosely translated as ‘Heart and home’). The coat of arms was made by production designer Syd Cain in cooperation with the British College of Arms.
The original design by Syd Cain is part of the exhibition ‘Designing 007 - Fifty years of Bond style’ which has travelled to London, Toronto, Shanghai, Moskou, Madrid and Rotterdam, amongst others. Unfortunately, the drawing has not been included in the exhibition’s catalogue.


On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 0:51:41
Bond World, 30 June 2014

In the movie it is located right of the gondola station and left of the building's entrance which nowadays can only be recognized by the setting of the doors. The restaurant is not that interesting with a menu that lacks imagination, you can order “spaghetti James Bond”.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 0:54:08
Entrance Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014

From the original interior design only the fences along the stairs remain, unfortunately it was decorated with stones from the souvenir shop. All other scenes inside the building where made in the studio. The restaurant has two revolving rings, the best seats are of course at the window and within the hour a 360° turn has been made.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 0:54:17
Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014
On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 0:54:44
Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014

In the meantime, most of the clouds were gone and we went outside. The helicopter platform has been replaced by a panorama terrace, including life-size silhouettes of James Bond. On the terrace the curling scenes with the “angels of death” were made, are Bond and Blofeld meeting and Piz Gloria can be seen very well in the background.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 0:50:21
Panorama terrace Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014
On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1:12:05
Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014
On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1:59:38
Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014

The name in orange has disappeared as well as the sign that reads ‘Versöhnung der Technik mit der Natur’ (‘Reconciliation of technique and nature’), the concrete was covered with wooden panels in 1990. On the third photo the text is visible in the left upper corner.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1:12:47
Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014
On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1:13:19
Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014

Also during the curling game Shaun Campbell, a secret agent who wants to help James Bond by climbing from Birg to Piz Gloria, is being discovered. While climbing the mountain, his presence is being revealed by the alpine choughs. These black birds with yellow bill and red legs can still be seen around Mount Schilthorn and seem to be accustomed to people.

Besides the gondola it is also possible to descend the mountain by hiking or skiing, just like James Bond. For more information, go to Schilthorn Piz Gloria.


On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1:10:49
Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014
On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1:08:19
Birg seen from Piz Gloria, 30 June 2014

The souvenir shop sells 007-items but it is not much interesting, we bought a postcard and a special issue of the German James Bond-fanclubmagazine from 2001.
More interesting is a 30 minute episode of Dutch documentary series Andere Tijden on this movie, including a visit to Piz Gloria with production manager Hubert Fröhlich from the twelfth minute onwards. It is Dutch spoken but all interviews are in English, including director Peter Hunt just a few weeks before his death in 2002.


Screenshots © EON Productions Ltd

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