Welcome to Austria, 007!

The locations of the ice and snow chase of THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987)
More than 25 years ago, the 15th James Bond film THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS came into theaters. Among Gibraltar, Morocco and Vienna, it was shot in the area around the Weissensee in Austria, where the escape of James Bond (Timothy Dalton) and Kara Milovy (Maryam d'Abo) across the Czechoslovak-Austrian border was implemented. Last year I visited the locations, with the help of Norbert Jank, who is ice master of the largest groomed ice surface in Europe and took part in the filming in 1987. He supervised the work on the ice and coordinated cooperation with locals.

The crew led by director John Glen originally chose the Weissensee to realize an ice yachting action sequence but that was given up because of weather conditions. Instead, the Aston Martin Vantage Volante was sent on the ice. The Weissensee was the ideal location for it, since it freezes reliably every year, with up to 60 centimetres thickness of the ice.

Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, tunnel, Aston Martin chase
Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, tunnel, Aston Martin chaseThe flight from the Czechoslovak state power starts on the Drautalstrasse (Drava valley road) just before the Festungsbergtunnel, a few miles north of the Weissensee. Bond is here using lasers and missiles to destroy a police car and a roadblock.


Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, tunnel, Aston Martin chaseAustria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, tunnel, Aston Martin chase


Interestingly, Bond drives north through the tunnel, that is actually away from the lake.




Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, Weissensee, Aston Martin chase Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, Weissensee, Aston Martin chase

The exact place where Bond drives the Aston Martin on the lake, now belongs to a guesthouse, whose owner was also involved in the shooting.




Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, Weissensee, Aston Martin chase
Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, Weissensee, Aston Martin chaseFor the scene when a car wheel with bare rim cuts the ice open, the Aston Martin was equipped with a circular saw. But the sinking police car was shot in the studio.






Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, Weissensee, Aston Martin chase
A wooden dam with a staircase was built, which marks the Czechoslovak border and serves Bond as jump. In the next scene, an Aston Martin dummy ends up in the snow on the Naggler Alm near the lake, where then the cello case chase was realized. The idea to use the case as a sled came directly from director John Glen, who took a seat in the case himself to convince the producers.


Norbert Jank explained that especially for the brief scene in which the Aston Martin loses a ski at a tree trunk, a tree was planted by helicopter. As usual with Bond shooting, money was no object.


Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, Weissensee, Aston Martin chase
Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, Weissensee, Aston Martin chase, chelloThis is also reflected in the fact that the Austrian border post, which Bond and Kara pass sliding, was built twice. Once for the scenes towards the Naggler-Alm with the Czechoslovak persecutors, and once with a view into the Drava valley, on a side street west of the Weissensee. In the movie, the editing works seamlessly, but if you stand at that place and look back, you realize that the landscape behind looks different than in the movie. A little masterpiece of editing, production design and script continuity.

Austria, Location of James Bond 007 - The Living Daylights, Weissensee, Aston Martin chase
With Norbert Jank above the filming
location near the Weissensee
Even after THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, films were shot in the beautiful, partly unspoiled environment of the Weissensee. In 1988, for example, Jean-Jacques Annaud's THE BEAR. After shooting James Bond, also the Netherlands came to the notice of the lake. They were looking for an alternative for the "Eleven Cities Tour", a skating race, which was held annually on the ice-covered canals. Since these are no longer frozen, the Weissensee was a perfect alternative, and the tour takes place here now since 1989.

Here again a big and heartfelt thanks to Norbert Jank, who told some anecdotes from the shooting, and without whom I probably would have never found the exact locations. Norbert Jank runs a guesthouse at the Weissensee, for Bond fans certainly the perfect address.

(First published on August 13th, 2012)

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