Retracing the Bond Films in Latin America

Much of the latest James Bond film (Quantum of Solace) was shot in Latin America (in Chile, Panama and Mexico - though much of the film was apparently set in Bolivia).   There’s plenty of other great Bond moments from other Latin American countries too…

Moonraker - Brazil

Much of Moonraker (1979) is set in Brazil - Rio de Janeiro, Iguassu Falls and the Amazon all feature in this classic. Remember the fight between Bond and Jaws on top of the cable car? That was the sugar loaf cable car in Rio.

Sugar Loaf, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Bond fights Jaws!
Bond fights Jaws in Rio.

The ancient Maya pyramids of Tikal also feature in Moonraker, but they’re in Guatemala rather than Brazil!

Cuba - Die another Day

Much of Die another Day (2002) was set in Cuba, but none of it was actually filmed there (politics I guess). A lot of the scenes were actually shot in London and Cadiz (Spain), but none the less the film features a cigar factory in Havana, a private island gene therapy clinic and a rather stunning entrance by Bond girl Halle Berry.

Varadero, Cuba? Halle Berry on the beach.
Varadero, Cuba perhaps?

Mexico - Quantum of Solace

Mid-air gunfights, the shimmering Sea of Cortez and beautiful desert landscapes feature in Quantum of Solace.  Most of the filming was done near San Felipe, a town on Mexico’s Pacific coast not far from Mexicali in Baja California.  This is one of the remoter regions of Baja California with wonderful beaches, great hiking, plenty of marine wildlife and crystal clear waters perfect for kayaking.

Chile - Quantum of Solace

Much of the film was set in Bolivia, but a lot of the filming took place just over the border in Northern Chile - around Antofagasta and the Atacama Desert.  Baquedano is a small village where much of the filming took place  - apparently the local mayor got so angry that the local Chileans were being made to depict the neighbouring Bolivians, that one day he drove onto the set and demanded that the filming stop!  The bizarre looking building in the middle of the desert that gets blown up at the end of the film is actually a lodge built for astronomers studying the stars at the nearby ESO Paranal Observatory.  In the real world, the lodge (called “La Residencia”) didn’t get blown up - indeed you can even stay there if you wish (UK tour operator Journey Latin America can arrange a package for you).

Bond in the Atacama Desert in Chile
Bond in the Atacama Desert, Chile - supposedly Bolivia.

Panama - Quantum of Solace

Casco Viejo, Panama City’s old town, was the setting for much of the filming.  Embera Indians were asked to don bowler hats and act as extras to portray Bolivians apparently - sounds pretty absurd to me… That glamourous cocktail party was actually held in the ruins of Noreiga’s notorious “Officers and Troops Club”. Other bits of the film were set in Haiti, but as it’s a bit dangerous to be filming there, the crew headed to the Panamanian Caribbean port city of Colon to film there instead.

Cuba - Goldeneye

That final classic scene  - the plane being shot down, Onatopp attacking Bond, the lake draining of water and uncovering the satellite dish  and the final fight sequence atop the antenna?  Again - Cuba.

The Caribbean features in many Bond films too - Bond is in Jamaica for much of Dr. No, in the Bahamas in Thunderball, and in both the “Republic of Isthmus” (a fictional country based on Panama) and the Bahamas in Licence to Kill.

Read more about Bond in Latin America - see the Telegraph’s similar article.

2 Responses to “Retracing the Bond Films in Latin America”

  1. Your article re: Mexico - Quantam of Solace states that San Felipe is on the pacific coast of Mexico. Wrong. San Felipe is on the upper region of the east coast of Baja on the Sea of Cortez. There is an entire mountain range separating east and west coasts of Baja. The west coast of Baja (Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada) are on the Pacific coastline. San Felipe, Loreto, La Paz are on the east coast facing the Sea of Cortez.

  2. Ok Tobi…. that’s a bit like saying that Wales doesn’t have an atlantic coast, because it’s actually the Irish Sea. Nonetheless I see your point….

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