Ever since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969, some of the most thrilling James Bond action sequences have taken place in the coldest climates. The 007 action unit have found myriad ways to create unique snowbound set-pieces on skis, to aircraft and even a cello case. Here are the behind-the scenes stories from some of Bond’s most iconic ice capades….
Locations: Mürren, Switzerland.
The Action: Bond (George Lazenby) travels to the Swiss Alps to infiltrate Piz Gloria, the HQ of Spectre head Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas). The snowbound scenes include a stock car race on ice, a night-time ski pursuit and a daring helicopter raid on the mountain-top fortress.
Behind the scenes: Production manager Hubert Frölich found an under-construction restaurant only reachable by cable car built on the Schilthorn mountain near Mürren, Switzerland. EON paid to complete the restaurant so they could use it to double as Piz Gloria. Blofeld’s helipad was left behind to serve mountain rescue teams.
Richard Graydon, stunt double for George Lazenby: “I doubled for Bond when he had to go hand-over-hand along a cable. The drop was about 80 feet. The only safety devices I had were two hooks in the palms of my hand attached to my safety belt. The difficulty was ice had formed on the cable. So instead of the hooks locking onto the cable, I found myself sliding down towards Mürren, which was two or three miles below. Fortunately, there were some stuntmen on the first pylon who caught hold of me as I approached it, otherwise I think I might still be going.”
Locations: St. Moritz, Switzerland and Mount Asgard in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, Canada.
Behind the scenes: On assignment in Austria, 007 (Roger Moore) is pursued down a mountain by KGB assassins when he is confronted by a cliff face. All looks lost when Bond skis off the edge to certain death – until, after a few heart-stopping moments, a parachute opens emblazoned with a Union Jack.
Trivia: Director John Glen and crew waited ten days for the harsh conditions to subside to shoot the spectacular jump of Mount Asgard. When the clouds finally parted, the team only had a 15-minute window to capture the stunt performed by climber and stuntman Rick Sylvester.
John Glen, second-unit director: “We were in this very desolate part of the world, inside the Arctic circle with an Inuit village about 30 miles away. Each day we had to travel out by helicopter to set up the climbing pylons so the crew could get up there with the cameras. The weather was atrocious.”
Location: Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
The Action: Hot on the trail of Emile Leopold Locque (Michael Gothard), an enforcer in the Brussels underworld, Bond (Roger Moore) heads to Cortina, Italy. 007 is hunted down by motorbike assassins, ending up on a thrilling pursuit around a bobsleigh run.
Behind the scenes: Shooting the bob run chase, the motorbike’s wheels were fitted with spike-laden treads to increase the grip while moving at speeds of up to 50mph.
Willy Bognor, ski photographer: “In order to get a very close look at the action and really capture the feel of the chase, I decided to do some tracking shots on skis on the bob run. I could handhold it (the camera) during the chase and because of the shock-absorbing effect of my knees and arms, it was possible to hold the camera really steady and get a perfectly clear picture even at high speeds.”
Location: Vedretta di Scerscen Inferiore glacier, the Alps in Switzerland
The Action: In the pre-titles sequence, Bond (Roger Moore) is being chased by henchmen on skis, a snowmobile and in a helicopter. 007 improvises his escape with a snowmobile blade acting as snowboard and glides his way out of danger.
Behind the scenes: The first feature film to showcase snowboarding, the sequence took six weeks to film with pioneer, World Snowboard Champion (1982) Tom Sims and Steve Link doubling for Roger Moore for the snowboarding scenes.
John Glen: “Willy [Bogner, champion skier] came up with this new idea: snowboarding. He said, ‘If we could get Bond on a monoski, then we could have some real fun.’ I thought that was a great idea and I came up with the idea that Bond was on a motorised toboggan that gets shot up and all that’s left is the front ski. So Bond goes on it as a snowboard. Willy came up with this idea of the lake, of using the snowboard as a seaboard as well, to go through the lake. It worked ever so well.”
Location: Weissensee, Austria
The Action: Chased by the KGB and the Czechoslovakian Police, Bond (Timothy Dalton) and cellist Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo) flee from Bratislava to Vienna. 007’s Aston Martin V8 is forced onto a frozen lake, evading his pursuers with the help of a jet engine booster. After crash landing the V8 in a forest, the pair cross the Austrian border using Kara’s cello case as a sled.
Behind the scenes: For the moment 007 throws the cello over the barrier and catches it, Timothy Dalton nailed the tricky manoeuvre on the first take.
Paul Weston, stunt supervisor: “It was a dangerous chase because when we first arrived the lake was just freezing over. When we walked out on it, you could see the fish beneath you, as it hadn’t gone white yet, it was like standing on a sheet of glass.”
Location: Chamonix, France.
The Action: At the behest of M (Judi Dench), Bond (Pierce Brosnan) travels to Azerbaijan to protect Elektra King (Sophie Marceau). During a tour of the Caucasus Mountains to check the construction of an oil pipeline, Bond and Elektra come under attack from a quartet of parahawks, Skidoos suspended from parachutes.
Behind the scenes: The crew were often hampered by heavy snow, overcast skies, delays stopping for avalanche warnings and diesel freezing in the trucks. The spectacular set-piece ended up going five days over schedule.
Jonathan Taylor, second unit-cameraman: “We tested the cameras in the British Airways refrigerator at Heathrow and left them there overnight to make sure they ran and the batteries were up to speed.”
The Action: Slipping the clutches of millionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) from his ice palace in Iceland. 007 (Pierce Brosnan) speeds off in his Aston Martin V12 Vanquish and embarks on a high-speed duel with Zao (Rick Yune)’s Jaguar XKR across a frozen landscape.
Behind the scenes: The cars were converted to four-wheel drive for the chase. To shoot the auto-ballet, the camera unit vehicle was fitted out with floatation devices in case the ice broke.
Michael G. Wilson, producer: ‘It was a miracle. That lagoon only freezes a few weeks a year to that depth that’s sufficient for cars to run on it. It just so happened that this was the coldest February in 60 years and therefore we only had a few weeks to film everything.”
Location: Altaussee, Austria.
Action: In the snowy drifts of Altaussee, Bond (Daniel Craig) mounts a rescue of Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), kidnapped by SPECTRE henchman Hinx (Dave Bautista). Bond gives chase in a plane, using it to ram into Hinx’s convoy and free Madeleine.
Behind the scenes: Crew members caught walking on pristine snow were fined 10 euros with the proceeds going to charity.
Dave Bautista, actor: “My character, Hinx, kidnaps Madeleine. The altitude was so high and the oxygen levels were so low that the scene was a lot trickier than it looks on film.”
Location: Langvann Lake, Norway.
The Action: The film opens on a flashback depicting young Madeleine Swann (Mathilde Bourbin), under siege in a Norwegian lake house from Safin (Rami Malek) who is intent on murdering her father. Fleeing across a frozen Norwegian lake, Madeleine falls through the ice but she is rescued and spared by Safin.
Behind the scenes: The lake house was assembled at the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios and then “flat-packed” in a container and shipped out to Norway.
Linus Sandgren, cinematographer: “We couldn’t put too much weight in the ice or be too close to certain areas, because the temperature was too warm and they were afraid the ice would crack. We were also limited to how large the cranes we could use.”
Head off on your next adventure in style with the 007 collection of travel accessories at 007Storecom.