In a nutshell: James Bond is half Swiss.
This is my conclusion after reading James Bond und die Schweiz, a fascination collection of anecdotes and historical records about the world’s most famous super agent.
According to the authors, Michael Marti and Peter Wälty, it is no coincidence that Ian Fleming’s “Bond” franchise has chosen Switzerland for three films. In order to provide some needed background information, the book’s first chapter delves into Fleming’s upbringing in England. His troubled ways resulted in Fleming’s venturing to Austria, Germany and finally Switzerland.
The book’ authors are historians by trade. They go into great detail when it comes to Fleming’s biography – a treasure trove for all those who want to understand what motivated the man behind James Bond. As a twenty-something student and wanna-be diplomat in Geneva, Ian Fleming’s arrogant ways did not exactly make him popular. But it was during this time that he fell in love with Switzerland. Interestingly, it would be decades later before the author embedded Switzerland in his captivating tales of 007.
James Bond filming locations in Switzerland
It is no exaggeration to say that it was thanks to James Bond that Switzerland gained popularity among foreign tourists. For instance, in the 1969 flick On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the British agent takes viewers to Zürich, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald and Mt. Schilthorn in the Bernese Alps.
In fact, the movie bluntly renamed Blofeld’s mountain hide-out as Piz Gloria, a name that has stuck to this day. (By the way, fans of James Bond will find their mecca up there with a 007-themed restaurant and an interactive museum.)
After Sean Connery’s Goldfinger takes us to Geneva, central Switzerland and the famed street scene at Furka, GoldenEye introduces the Verzasca dam in Ticino.
Did you know that the first Bond Girl was Swiss? Ursula Andress from Ostermundingen made history…
Everyone remembers the key scene in the first ever Bond movie, Dr. No, where Ursula Andress walks onto the shore wearing a bikini. Her instant fame would launch a successful film career, and Switzerland would endear her with the nickname “Ursi National”.
And more recently in Quantum of Solace, director Marc Foster has cast a fellow Swiss for a key role: Anatole Taubman played the second-in-command to the villain. (I remember jumping out of my seat at the theater when I heard the character speak Swiss German on the phone!)
“James Bond und die Schweiz” is a gem of a book. It is the perfect lecture for any (German speaking) Bond Fan. It is rich in detail and contains dozens of previously unreleased photographs from the archives of those on the film sets.
James Bond und die Schweiz (buch.ch)
German, 304 pages