As if James Bond himself is behind the wheel

Cars, lots of cars. Helicopters, boats, motorcycles. And missiles. The world of James Bond never stands still. The exhibition ‘Bond in Motion’ shows the story behind the iconic scenes at Heysel.

You could make a game out of it. Which Aston Martin is from which James Bond movie? In which movie did he – oh, sacrilege – drive a BMW? And who remembers which movie Bond’s obituary appeared in?

The essence

  • ‘Bond in Motion’, an exhibition in Palais 1 of the Brussels Expo, displays around 50 original vehicles used in the James Bond films.
  • The cars, boats, planes and rockets on display are explained with film fragments and a short, educational explanation.

You will find all the answers in the exhibition ‘Bond in Motion, original collection of James Bond Vehicles’. But make no mistake, the exhibition is not a Bond trivia quiz that only the diehards get a kick out of. Above all, the exhibition is a dazzling visual spectacle that takes you into the world of the British secret agent. You expect Daniel Craig to jump out of one of the many Aston Martins at any moment. Not so.

50 original full-size vehicles, a variety of miniatures and scale models are on display. They all come from the archives of EON, the production company behind the film series, and have all been used in the films. “We started keeping track of everything systematically after 1995. Not much was kept of the earlier films. I found some old props in various corners and places in the Pinewood studios,” says Meg Simmonds, EON’s Chief Archivist.

It’s not the first time that cars and other vehicles from the 25 Bond films have appeared in an exhibition, but Brussels has the first for mainland Europe. “It’s the biggest exhibition to date,” says Simmonds. It is divided into four sections: earth, water, air and fire. In other words: cars, boats, planes and explosions.

Cool and dangerous

The fascinating thing about the exhibition is the combination between the exhibited objects, images from the films and the additional information for the viewer. You can learn a lot about how to shoot a movie in just a few sentences.

The crashed helicopter from ‘Spectre’.
©saskia vanderstichele

If you see Bond driving around in one car in the movie, the reality was usually different. A key scene from the latest Bond film ‘No Time to Die’ takes place in Matera, Italy. Aston Martin DB5 from 007 (Daniel Craig) comes under fire. In the exhibition, the shot-shot specimen stands prominently in the middle of one of the halls. But in order to complete the filming, Aston Martin built six replicas.

Jaguar could also send nice invoices to EON productions. In ‘Die Another Day’ (2002), Bond (Pierce Brosnan) battles the villain Zao. On the ice, they fight an epic battle. Zao drives an advanced Jaguar XKR, loaded with weapons and ammunition. Jaguar delivered nine examples here. In the exhibition, the only thing that has all the weapons on board is on display. Cool and dangerous.

The heavily armed Jaguar XKR from ‘Die Another Day’.
©saskia vanderstichele

Even better was the Q Boat from ‘The World is Not Enough’ (1999). For a spectacular chase scene on the water, 15 examples of the 300 HP racing machine were built. Two boats are on display at the fair. One has real weapons on board, the other only served to film the scenes in the interior.

First space shuttle

Sometimes the films were ahead of reality, such as ‘Moonraker’ (1979), where the acclaimed Roger Moore plays the role of Bond. The producers wanted to recreate Bond’s space shuttle as faithfully as possible and knocked on NASA’s door. At the time, the space agency was busy developing real space shuttles. Their project was delayed, so Bond became the first to fly through space on a space shuttle.

Airbus could not always keep up with 007 either. The producers hoped to use an Airbus 380 for ‘Casino Royale’ (2006). Unfortunately. The plane was not ready in time, so a Boeing 747 was converted. A scale model of this can be admired in the exhibition. This was also used in the film for a shot where the entire plane came into view. The actors were later inserted into the scenes.

James Bond is still attractive because he exudes a kind of escapism that many people crave.

Chris Corbold

Special effects manager

With technological innovations, filming is becoming more and more computer work. The Bond films also use special effects. “But in little things,” says Chris Corbould, special effects manager on countless Bond films. “We want as much action on camera as possible. The Bond films are loved for their real car chases, their real explosions. Of course we also use special effects, but rather for support or if there are no other options. In ‘Skyfall’ there’s a big action scene in the subway. We could have shot it digitally, but we didn’t. We recreated the subway in the studio. It felt much better and more real to us.’

The subway attack from ‘Skyfall’.

It is one of the most impressive recreated scenes in the exhibition, closely followed by a beautiful scale model of the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin N2 from ‘Spectre’ (2015). In this way you go from one landmark to another, up to the 007 bar. It’s just a movie, but it still feels real.

“Bond is still attractive because he has the kind of escapism that a lot of people crave,” says Corbould. That’s the way it is. Bond’s obituary appeared in 1967’s You Only Live Twice.

Bond in motion opens on Friday and runs until May 14 in Hall 1 at Heysel.

Leave a Comment