I knew it! James Bond doesn’t actually ski in Spectre, the latest 007 movie. Big disappointment. I guessed because when I watched the trailer before seeing the actual film, there wasn’t a single skiing sequence. Yet if you watch the trailer to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), which famously has some of the best skiing content of all the Bond films, it starts and ends with 007 (George Lazenby – or at least his skiing double) on skis in thrilling style.
On a gorgeous weekend in the mountains at the end of October, I was in the impressive Tirolean glacier resort of Sölden in a visit timed to coincide with a special screening (frustratingly in German with no English sub-titles) of the film at Innsbruck’s Metropol theatre. In Spectre, which may well be Daniel Craig’s final role as 007, Bond romps all over the place on the snowy Rettenbach glacier or above it, even if he doesn’t ski, using a light plane in the snowy forest above Sölden to ram one of the Spectre henchmen’s 4X4s to try to rescue the female star of the movie, Dr Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux). The wings come off, and what’s left of the plane ploughs through a group of chalets. A minor detail in the film’s breathtaking litany of special effects, Alpine shoot-outs, car chases, and other 007 indulgences.
Some 500 people worked on the sequences in Sölden. The resort’s iconic Ice Q restaurant on the Gaislachkogel (one of Sölden’s three 3000m+ peaks) – all glass and stainless steel – was one of the deal-making attributes that lured the producers to the biggest ski area in the Ötztal valley.
In the film, the restaurant portrays the Spectre mountain-top lair used by the most recent incarnation of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (the deeply unpleasant character who first appeared in From Russia With Love more than 50 years ago) – and of course Bond’s arch enemy.
It was Jakob Falkner, the boss of both the restaurant and the gondolas that get you there, who explained why the film we’d watched the previous evening had been dubbed in German. The assembled journalists from far and wide, many of whom spoke no German, had been expecting at least English sub-titles. But it seems that the Bond powers that be in Los Angeles have a strict condition that wherever a Bond movie is screened it must be dubbed in the language of that country. Thus many of us were almost entirely baffled by what was going on in the film.
But at least we got to ski! Sölden’s ski area is pretty impressive with up to 90 miles of pistes, and a vertical drop of almost 10 miles from the top of the highest glacier slopes at 4430m, all the way down to the town.
We even got to ski the steep black run that kicks of the World Cup season in Europe every October. What a shame Daniel Craig – or at least a skiing double – wasn’t able to have a crack at it!
Arnie stayed at Das Central (T. +43 5254 2260-0, central-soelden.at) has double rooms available from €167 / £122 per person, based on two people sharing on a half-board basis. Rates are subject to availability. Direct flights available from Gatwick to Innsbruck with easyJet start at £72 return per person from 28 November 2015 onwards.