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James Bond and Its Connection with Mexico

México desde fuera

Rafael Aviña

James Bond, secret agent created by British author Ian Fleming, would become one of the great myths of contemporary cinema with the help of producer Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and from the 1962 film Dr. No, premiered in Mexico in January 1964.

The character, originally conceived in twelve volumes and two collections of short stories, was capable of engaging in fierce battles in the sky, sea, land and bed, in the name of his British majesty. A hero capable of fulfilling the most intimate desires: skill in the handling of weapons, from a Walter PPK to nuclear armament, and a power of seduction and improvisation that make his life a violent adventure.

Alongside Broccoli, his daughter Barbara and Saltzman, in James Bond skilled craftsmen grew such as Terence Young, Guy Hamilton, Lewis Gilbert, Peter Hunt and John Glenn, as well as, Monty Norman, creator of the famous theme song; John Barry, head composer; Ken Adam, art director; and Maurice Binder, designer of most of the remarkable title sequences. And of course, the ultimate discovery were the actors Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

Desde Rusia con amor (1965, dir. Terence Young).jpg
From Russia with Love (1965, dir. Terence Young)

The funny thing is that the famous spy has an extensive connection with Mexico that begins with his second adventure: From Russia with Love (1963), in which Bond receives the help of the Turkish agent Kerim Bey, played by Pedro Armendariz in his last film. In the pre-credits sequence of Goldfinger (1964), Bond blows up the drug lab of Mexican drug lord Ramirez. And in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Connery follows the villain Blofeld to an oil complex located in Baja California.

More important than those will be License to Kill (1989), with Timothy Dalton as Bond, filmed almost entirely in Mexico. The underwater photography was done by Ramón Bravo and Pedro Armendáriz Jr., president of the fictional Republic of Isthmus; Claudio Brook, Juan Peláez, Jorge Russek, Enrique Novi, Humberto Elizondo, Edna Bolkan, and Sergio Corona appear in the film among other actors.

007 con licencia para matar (1989, dir. John Glen)
License to Kill (1989, dir. John Glen)

Highlights include the Gran Hotel of Mexico City, located on Calle 16 de Septiembre, and its elevators that will be seen again in Spectre; the Post Office building, in Tacuba; the Spanish Casino, in Isabel La Católica; the Library of the Bank of Mexico, and the City Theater, in Donceles, as the Casino of Isthmus. Meanwhile, the Otomí Ceremonial Center in Temoaya, State of Mexico; the Arabesque Villa in Las Brisas, Acapulco, as the house of the drug lord Franz Sanchez (that was once owned by Baron Enrico di Portanova in the eighties) are also present. And the breathtaking final chase scene with the trailers was filmed in La Rumorosa, in Tecate, Baja California.

In Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) starring Pierce Brosnan, a media businessman plans to trigger a war between China and Great Britain. The film includes scenes in Rosarito, Baja California, shot in the large 20th Century Fox water tank where James Cameron's Titanic was filmed that same year. And in Quantum of solace (2008), starring Daniel Craig, Mexican Joaquín Cosío stars as Medrano, an exiled Bolivian coup general who assassinated the family of "Bond girl" Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), and Jesús Ochoa also stars as Lieutenant Orso. One sequence was filmed in the mountains of San Felipe, Baja California with Bond and Camille fleeing in a small plane piloted by him.

El mañana nunca muere (1997, dir. Roger Spottiswoode)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997, dir. Roger Spottiswoode)

Finally, perhaps the most spectacular Mexican connection with James Bond occurs in the opening sequence of Spectre (2015). The sequence begins with the musical themes of Thomas Newman and Tambuco: The Day of the Death and Los muertos vivos están. In the scene, which takes place during the impressive parade of the faithful departed among skulls and catrinas, the Museo Nacional De Arte (MUNAL), the Palacio de Minería, the Post Office Building, the Café Tacuba and the Museo del Telégrafo can be seen. Craig and Stephanie Sigman, arrive at the elevator of the Gran Hotel of Mexico City where they come across Tenoch Huerta and Adriana Paz in a brief scene.

Afterwards, there are a couple of exciting sequences like the one of Bond running through the rooftops of the Casona de Xicotencátl, former home of the Senate, and others between Donceles and Tacuba, where we can see the small Calle Marconi, the Callejón del 57, the Plaza Tolsá and the Fru-Fru Theater, where 007 shoots a mobster. Then, we see Cinco de Mayo Avenue, 20 de Noviembre, the Torre Latino and the Cathedral, to continue with the impressive confrontation inside a helicopter that flies over the Zócalo and where Craig and Alessandro Cremona, as the villain Marco Sciarra, fight fiercely.

His name is Bond, James Bond, the greatest fictional anti-hero of Cold War literature and modern cinema.