Prague Filming Locations: Casino Royale (2006)

The 2006 re-boot of the 007 franchise begins in black and white with James Bond (Daniel Craig) earning his licence to kill. This was shot near to my hostel in the Karlin district on the banks of the Vlatva River in Prague. I had almost given up on trying to locate Danube House (Karolinska 650/1), the fairly new office block where it was filmed, when I found it almost by accident and mightily relieved to find it I was as it had been a slow start to my morning.

  

However, that wasn’y my first Bond location of the day as before that I had ascended Vitkov Hill which wasn’t too easy due to the very icey paths and steps and also because it was actually roped off but as no-one was around I ignored that and climbed up to find the Vitkov monument under reconstruction. Scaffolding and work being done on buildings seems to be the bain of my life which can be annoying when one has gone to a certain place to see that landmark. Luckily I didn’t go to Prague just to see this monument which was home to the ‘Miami Body Worlds’ exhibition for a short scene involvolving ‘M’ and Bond before the film moved onto ‘Montenegro’ which was yet another case of the Czech Republic filling in for another place but that one was outside of Prague.

Next up was Strahov Monastery (found at Strahovske Nadvori 1/132) at the top of the hill in Petrinske Sady. The picture below is the exterior of the place but it was the library interior that was used but I wasn’t interested enough in the place, which was the committee room in ‘London’s’ House of Commons, due to the cost of entry and a pressing need to move on to the next locations in order to maximise daylight hours.

  

You can see my other ‘Casino Royale’ Como & Venice filming locations here and here.

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Venice Filming Locations: James Bond

It’s been said that some 500 movies have been made in Venice but most of us can probably only name a few at best. In Euro Trip 2010 Pt X I referred to locations used in The English PatientIndiana Jones & The Last Crusade and Death In Venice and on top of that two James Bond films have been set there; Moonraker and Casino Royale. The latter may be a way better film but it’s the former which is actually more memorable as it included Roger Moore’s 007 famously transforming his gondola into a land vehicle which rode through to St Marks Square to the astonishment of many including a pigeon which in the film does a double-take which was rather cheesy and typical of the Moore-as-Bond era.
   
This is the very same pigeon (above) which was shown in slow-motion looking one way and then looking the other in disbelief at Bonds antics. *
Coming from the water you carry on straight down through the piazza (as Moore did in unorthodox fashion) and directly in front of you on the north side is the Torre dell’Orologio; the clock tower where Bond has a bit of a tussle with one of the henchman working for the films antagonist Hugo Drax. Not surprisingly the interior wasn’t behind the real clock but in the studio.
Just a few metres east of here is the Venini glass store where the entrance was used as Drax‘s Glassworks shop.
 
Ca’ Rezzonico (Museo del Settecento Veneziano) is located quite near to the church used in ‘Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade’ in the Dorsoduro district. This doubled up as Drax‘s laboratory in Moonraker where Bond followed Dr Holly Goodhead (although he didn’t know it was her at the time) as she mysteriously crept away from a group having a tour of the museum and went up some stairs. The actual real glassworks museum is on Murano island just north of central Venice and I had planned to go there but in the end I just didn’t have the energy to venture out that way.
 
Just round the corner from St Mark’s Square is the Hotel Danieli which was where Dr Goodhead stayed in Moonraker. The interior was also the inspiration for the tiny studio-built sinking palazzo used at the end of Casino Royale which can be seen on the DVD extras.
 
St Nicolo riviera on Lido was also used in some way in Moonraker but when I got there I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was!! I have since discovered it was a monastery faking it as a “Brazilian” training camp so nothing too important.
 
Ponte dei Sospiri more commonly known in English as ‘Bridge of Sighs’ (above) was a little disappointing in reality as it was surrounded by blue advertising boards while its presumably under renovation. It featured in all its splendour at the end of ‘From Russia With Love’ but was clearly just rear projection and Sean Connery’s 007 and Tatiana Romanova were in the studio. For your information the bridge connects the Palace and the prison and was named for the condemned prisoners who sighed when they crossed it to meet their executioners.
My Venice guide through the eyes of 007 ends with some Casino Royale scenes. Bond and Vesper ride their yacht into Venice going between the bridges of Accademia and Rialto on the Grand Canal although the sinking palazzo near the latter was a one-third reconstruction on the Pinewood 007 stage in the UK.
 
Before all of that we see Bond supposedly looking out from his hotel balcony over St Mark’s Square but that view would not be even be possible. He runs across the square on hearing the news that there is a problem with the transfer of the money. I think its the Santa Maria della Salute which appears in the background (though I can’t seem to find a photo of this in my collection) of Daniel Craig’s 007 as he talks to ‘M’ about Vesper’s betrayal from his yacht and then its off to the Villa La Gaeta in Como for the films climax and those filming locations can be seen here in Euro Trip Pt V.
* May not be true!

Como (Italy Filming Locations): Casino Royale (2006)

Daniel Craig’s first outing as ‘007’ in 2006’s ‘Casino Royale‘ re-booted the ‘Bond’ franchise and gave it the kick up the ar*e that it needed. It is in fact one of the best Bond film’s and the ending to the movie was filmed in Como at two locations. We shall begin at the Villa del Balbianello which is where Bond recovers from his beating by the main antagonist Le Chiffre and is being questioned by the dodgy(?) MI6 Agent Mathis in the garden which is actually just outside the ticket office and bookshop entered through the door on the left of the picture below right.
 
Bond is one step ahead of Mathis though and has him tasered and arrested. He is then dragged away across the garden as we get to see the opposite direction of the first scene I mentioned.
 
The next scene begins with a beautiful sweeping shot of the loggia.
 
Bond wakes up to see Vesper (played by Eva Green) and they start to whisper a load of sweet nothings to each other on the south side of the loggia.
 
Monsieur Mendel interrupts the romance by coming up the path which tells anyone who has visited the Villa that he actually arrived by boat. One would thing that that kind of thing is fairly unlikely but you never know. Like it matters anyway!
 
Swiss Bank manager Mendel then ignores Vesper’s pleasantry and puts his briefcase on the table where, after a joke about Swiss chocolates, he asks Bond to input the account number and password into some special device within the case so that his 120 million (dollars?) casino winnings can be transferred. Herr Mendel then exits leaves the Villa grounds the same way he arrived and for all we know he may have sped off on his boat!
 
More flirting, a declaration of love for each other (basically) and a kissing scene follows before the camera is peering down on them from up somewhere in the loggia and that is the last time we see the Villa del Balbianello.
The very final 90 seconds of Casino Royale were shot at Villa La Gaeta in Aquaseria, and was a real pain in the ass to get to. First, I had to wait about 90minutes for a bus but that bus stopped at the depo where I had to wait a while longer before changing to another bus which needed another ticket. Although very easy to see from the lake, when going there by road it is a lot more difficult to spot. After going through a long tunnel you come out and then go almost straight away into another tunnel and as soon as you exit that one its on the right. Very easy to miss!
The first shot we see of the villa is from its front gates as the car of the mysterious Mr White goes down the driveway.
 
This is easy enough to copy as one can just poke their camera through the gates and snap away. At worst this is all I thought I might get as the villa is a private home but I was determined to try and get in somehow. Luckily, as soon as I arrived at the villa a young guy in his twenties was going in the side gate. I asked in my bad Italian if he spoke English to which he thankfully said yes. I asked if I could go in for a few moments to take a photo or two but he said it wasn’t possible as it might upset the other guests. I begged and begged and even offered cash but he wasn’t gonna change his mind. He did say he would take a few quick photo’s for me and sensing that this would be as good as I would get I duly handed him the camera and so that’s why the following photo’s aren’t as good as match-up as I’d usually try and do.
A fantastic aerial shot of the villa in all its glory is followed by Mr White parking his car, looking out across the lake and getting a call from Bond not that he knows it’s him. In fact he even says “Who is this?” which sets up the final line very well.
The response to Mr White’s question is a shot in the leg from a hidden Bond which leaves him crawling across the gravel in front of a bench.
    
Mr White is then shown crawling towards the steps of the villa of which the second step is very recognisable as it has a rusty colour mark in the middle of it. As the villain tries to climb the steps we see the feet of Bond appear and the camera pans up to show his face and we see him holding his mobile in one hand and the gun in the other which he used only moments before. Proof that some things are best left to last as Bond finally answers Mr White’s question in typical 007 fashion; “The name’s Bond…James Bond.”