BOND, GIACOMO BOND
It was buzzing all around in Talamone, the village where I live.
“James Bond is coming!”
The fictional secret agent of Her Majesty the Queen would shoot his latest film here. He would turn up in an Aston Martin and walk through elegant gala parties in black tie. Gloriously, the name of our village would be seen throughout the world when the name appeared in the film.
In a village where nothing happens, the biggest news was last winter when a miscreant broke into a church. But Bond was news. Big news. The great fanfare had started after the waiter of a local restaurant overheard the chief of the film production speaking with the local castle owner during a meal.
The village inhabitants, some 200 in total, saw it all benevolently. The village would finally be taken to the next level. It would attract international tourism. And with that, a halt would be made to the moving away of young people, a big problem for rural villages. “Hollywood” or at least EON Productions, had rediscovered us.
The baker’s mother remembered Kirk Douglas who had filmed Ulysses in the village in 1954. The film crew had spent almost the entire summer there.
“Every evening Kirk and the others came to the village square, ate pizza and talked to us. Kirk was so sympathetic, I remembered how he occasionally stroked my hair. And Silvana Mangano was so bella, and so nice.”
Many villagers took part in the film 50 years ago or provided other services.
By Mid-April, the tension had risen to a climax.
“The crew is arriving next week,” the bartender said tensely when pouring me an espresso. “All hotels in the area are fully booked.” The owner of the newsstand whispered detailed information when I bought Il Tirreno, the local daily. “They will stay here for four days.” The woman from the tobacconist drew up a list of stars that would come: “Daniel Craig as James Bond, then that beautiful Ukrainian Olga Kurylenko and of course our own Giancarlo Giannini.”
Bond would give a good show. During the preceding production weeks, an Aston Martin had already run into Lake Garda and two Alfa Romeos had collided with each other, and that was not according to the script. A matter of bad luck or good marketing?
Around Italian Liberation Day (June 2) the production set up its tents at the Spanish Tower, a castle on a rocky point in the bay opposite our village, which can be rented for 7500 euros per week. I watched the castle from the terrace of Bar Il Porto and heard next to me three men speaking English. I asked one of them, a baldheaded man who looked like Marc Foster, the director of the James Bond film, about the progress of the production. He answered rather stiffly.
The paparazzo in me came alive when 13 trucks, a helicopter and about a hundred crewmen had arrived at the castle. I drove my car up the hill where the castle sits. The access road was guarded by an Italian security team with yellow vests and heavy biceps.
“I live in the apartment complex further up the hill,” I lied and was allowed to pass by. At the highest point I saw the castle below where production members were working like the Spanish Fury.
The villagers were not allowed to look behind the scenes. Only one local caterer was authorized on the set. The next day a yellow Ecureuil helicopter with a camera on its nose hung over the bay to follow a chase with a speedboat from the British motorboat manufacturer Sunseeker. Was it Daniel Craig on board or a lookalike stuntman? Nobody could tell. We didn’t get to see Craig. It was said he and his girlfriend had moved into the luxurious Il Pellicano, a hotel in Porto Ercole. The hotel is next to the former villa of Her Majesty the Queen: Beatrix (the former Dutch monarch at that time).
Bond is a psychopath, thought the caterer who said that production had suffered almost a delay of a day because Craig had scraped himself and deliriously raged, saying he did not want to work. “Tutt’altro che James Bond” (“Anything but James Bond“). There was now bad blood.
At the end of the last shooting day I walked onto the pier of the small Talamone harbor. Two speed boats were docked. A man was scrubbing the floor of one of the boats with a broom. It was the bald-headed man I spoke to at the bar days before.
If that was Marc Foster, I’m M.
Article written at the time of the shootings (2008) for Quantum of Solace.
Talamone is not the only James Bond location in Italy.
Bond is back in Italy: Matera