30 November 2014

Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

In the first scenes of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE the murder and funeral of James Bond (Sean Connery) is being staged. He is buried at sea, but when his body is at the bottom of the sea it is being taken by divers to a submarine. As it turns out, James Bond is unharmed and was able to breathe with an oxygen cilinder. These scenes are seen before and after the opening credits and are both situated in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, 4 November 2012
During the location shoot in 1966 Hong Kong was a British colony, since 1 July 1997 it is a special region within China. The centre is Victoria Harbour with Kowloon Peninsula on the one side and Hongkong Island on the other side. The island can be reached by subway or by ferry. The junks are a popular tourist attraction. The red seals form a sharp contrast with the city in the background, looking grey because of the smog.

Since the 1960’s the skyline of Hong Kong has changed drastically. Only the mountains in the background reveal that it is the same location. The 2012 photos were taken at the beginning of the evening. The tall building is the Two International Financial Centre, 415 meters high and the second tallest building in Hong Kong.

You Only Live Twice, 0:08:55
Hongkong Island, 4 November 2012
You Only Live Twice, 0:09:03
Hongkong Island, 4 November 2012

The skyline of Hongkong Island is seen again in DIE ANOTHER DAY when James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) escapes from the ship where he is being held captive by MI6, his own organization. He goes to the Kowloon Peninsula and walks to his usual hotel. These scenes where all filmed in England, on 8 July 2002.

Bank of China, 8 November 2012
The most recognizable building is the Bank of China. This skyscraper was designed by the Chinese architect Ming Pei and opened its doors on 17 May 1990. Back then the bank was the highest building of Asia, nowadays it does not even belong to the ten tallest structures. The facade is made up of triangular shapes that are being illuminated at night, still making the office building stand out from the surrounding buildings.

On the 43th floor is an observation deck which is open to the public. Every night at eight o’clock a spectacular lightshow is presented involving almost every building in the harbour. In the ten years that have passed since the movie was made, the skyline has changed again. Because space in Hong Kong is very valuable, buildings are still being demolished and replaced by offices and hotels that are higher than its predecessor.

Die Another Day, 0:25:29
Hongkong Island, 1 november 2012
Die Another Day, 0:25:42
Hongkong Island, 1 november 2012
Screenshots © EON Productions

16 November 2014

Mount Rushmore SD, USA

When advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) in NORTH BY NORTWEST is mistaken for a secret agent it will bring him from New York to Mount Rushmore with several detours. Not quite coincidental, because director Alfred Hitchcock had always wanted the monument as a location for a chase scene in one of his movies.

Trailer North by Northwest
In the film’s trailer Alfred Hitchcock introduces his film with Mount Rushmore prominently on the poster. The enormous sculpture was carved between 1925 en 1939 into the granite face of the Black Hills near Keystone, South Dakota, by a team of workers led by Gutzon Borglum. The four figures are United States presidents, from left to right George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

The granite of the mountain is very durable and the memorial hardly suffers from weather conditions and erosion. Mount Rushmore remains a popular tourist attraction with more than two million visitors each year. The entrance is free, but fees are required to park at the monument.

The location shoot took place on 16 October 1958 after The National Park Service had granted permission but requested that no scenes of violence were filmed on or near the memorial. This condition was accepted and the scenes with the chase and gun shooting were made in a film studio in Hollywood where parts of Mount Rushmore were recreated. Only the scenes with the four presidents in the background were actually filmed on location.

North by Northwest, 1:40:41
Mount Rushmore, 11 August 2008
North by Northwest, 1:40:50
Mount Rushmore, 11 August 2008
North by Northwest, 1:40:46
Mount Rushmore, 11 August 2008

The film shows a panorama view terrace and a restaurant, nowadays visitors can choose between an Information Center, a Visitor Center and the Sculptor’s Studio, amongst others. During our visit the restaurant had only two menu options: spaghetti and a grilled rooster.

North by Northwest, 1:45:42
Mount Rushmore, 11 August 2008

From March until September Mount Rushmore is also open at night and the monument is being illuminated, contrary to the film when Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) are standing in the dark on Jefferson’s head.

North by Northwest, 2:10:33
Mount Rushmore, 11 August 2008

Screenshots © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer