19 Mar 2015

Arriving at the Grand Bazaar

In From Russia With Love, after being picked up at the airport by Ali Kerim's son, Bond is driven through Istanbul to meet with Kerim Bey in his office. Bond notices that a black Citroën is following them and he is told that they are Bulgarians working for the Russians. After driving past some typical Ottoman houses, the arrive at the Grand Bazaar. Kerim's son parks the Rolls Royce just outside the Bazaar.

They arrive at the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, located right next to the Grand Bazaar. The lower part of the mosque is visible in the film as the Rolls parks. The narrow road leading up to the mosque is today a walking street and you should not expect to be able to drive in with a car. Just outside the mosque is a large parking, mostly filled up with tourist buses.

The Grand Bazaar and the mosque can be found in the Çemberlitaş neighborhood in the Fatih District. The facade and the place in front of the mosque visible in the film has not changed notably since 1963 apart from the stone pavement.

Later, when Bond is driven back to his hotel after the meeting with Kerim Bey, the Rolls makes a turn on the small square. Behind it is the main entrance to the Grand Bazaar visible.

The Nuruosmaniye Mosque was constructed between 1748-1755 and is considered to be one of the finest examples of an Ottoman baroque style mosque.

The Bulgar is played by Hasan Ceylan, in reality an Istanbul born actor. Grant kills him in the Hagia Sophia church later in the film.

The film team had major problems with crowd control during filming, something that is apparent in several scenes in the film. In several scenes in the film, crowds are seen in the background, just as you do at the end of the road where the Rolls drives in. A major crowd is also visible when Bond, escorted by the chauffeur, is entering the bazaar. The entire bazaar, including Kerim Bey's rug shop, will be covered later.

15 Mar 2015

Maiden's Tower, Istanbul - Part 1

Elektra's hideaway for the finale of The World is not Enough is located in the Bosporus strait of Istanbul, namely the famous Maiden's Tower. Elektra captures M and holds her hostage in the tower, and later, both Bond and Christmas are brought to the island in Elektra's boat. For the finale, Bond kills Elektra in her bedroom and goes after the submarine by diving from the top of the tower.

The first time the exterior of Elektra's lair is filmed is when Renard arrives with the plutonium (top picture). He docks at a small quay and one of the mosques on the European side is visible in the background. Later in the film, Zukovsky would dock at the same quay when he comes to Bond's rescue in the end.

There are a few establishing shots over Maiden's Tower in The World is not Enough, but it is also visible several times in the background during Bond's boat ride in From Russia With Love. Unlike today, the house and the tower were all white in 1963, as seen behind Connery.

Connery observes Maiden's Tower. Knowing that Bond would return? 

Construction of the tower dates back to 12th century. The island has been used for many different purposes over the centuries, such as tax collecting station, defense tower (holding a Byzantine garrison in 1453), a quarantine hospital during the cholera epidemic as well as a lighthouse. After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Turks pulled down the original tower and constructed a wooden tower in its place, which unfortunately, was destroyed by fire in the early 1720's. After that it was rebuilt from stone once again.

In The World is not Enough, we get the impression that the island is located quite far from land, somewhere in the middle of the Bosporus, but it is actually close to the Asian side, some 150-200 meters off the shore of the Salacak district in Üsküdar.

Today, the Maiden's Tower is a major tourist attraction with boats bringing people out to the small island every 15 minutes. The price is around 20 Lira (€8). There is a restaurant on the first floor and a small cafe/bar at the top of the tower. The interior scenes in the film were shot in studio and when you are on location it is hard to see how a submarine even would fit on the island. Do not be disappointed if you do not find the magnificent water basin on the island...

4 Mar 2015

The Gran Palacio beach bar - part 1

In Die Another Day Bond checks into El Grand Palacio Hotel on the fictitious island Los Organos. Bond, posing as an ornithologist, orders a Mojito as he observes Jink and La Clinica Alvarez. Through the bar you see a fort, Castillo de Santa Catalina, in the background. This is however not the same fort that served as La Clinica Alvarez, but both forts are located on either side of this beach and are visible from the bar. The bar was constructed for the film and is sadly, as non-existent as Bond's hotel (which is a maritime centre in reality).

Castillo de Santa Catalina

The bar was built in front of the maritime centre, Centro de Arqueología Subacuática de Andalucía covered earlier, that doubled for Bond's hotel in the film. La Castillo de Santa Catalina is a 16th century fort, situated on the right side of Playa La Caleta, the beach which is the location of Bond's hotel. This beach is located in the heart of Cádiz and packed with people during the weekends. If you want to visit this location in peace, it is a good idea to get there early (before 10 am) or late in the evening.

The dialogue between Bond and Jinx is extremely poor in this scene and sometimes even painful to watch. Halle Berry's acting is perhaps one of the bigger jokes, among quite a few, in this film. She clearly did not earn her Oscar for her portrayal of Jinx... With that said, the Cuban scenes, especially the scenes with Raoul, are among the highlights of the film, and Cádiz is spectacular as a Bond location.