Whenever a James Bond film turns 50, it is celebrated in style. In the last seven years, there have been many celebrations across the globe to honor each film individually. The golden jubilee of ‘ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE’ however, was truly the biggest and most incredible yet.
Usually, we are used to a one-evening gala to celebrate a Bond film. Everybody dresses up nicely, you meet up for drinks, see the film on a big screen and get together afterwards for a lively party. Most of the time, you are back home after roughly six hours.
When Martijn Mulder, owner of James Bond locations website onthetracksof007.com began to plan the anniversary event, he had something different in mind. It was all to be a bit more engaging and exclusive. What started out as a location visiting experience for fans, exploded, over the course of two years, to an event of extravagant proportions – a celebration the global fan community had never seen before.
The celebrations were to last nine days, beginning on May 25 with a lavish banquet at the Hotel Palacio Estoril in Portugal and culminating in an unforgettable alpine extravaganza on Schilthorn – Piz Gloria in Switzerland on June 01.
All the way part of the journey were members of the cast & crew of ‘ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE’, namely Terence Mountain, Sylvana Henriques, Helena Ronee, Jenny Hanley, Terry Ackland-Snow, Vic Armstrong and Wendy Leech, John Glen, Stefan Zürcher, Eddie Stacey, Erich Glavitza, Steven Saltzman and, of course, 007 himself…George Lazenby.
As I could not participate in the Portugal leg of the celebrations due to work commitments, I focused on Switzerland and prepared for what felt like the biggest party of our lives from just reading the programme.
Having just launched my YouTube channel as an add-on to this website, my goal was to capture the event on film as closely as I could. I was serious about it, equipping myself with the GoPro Hero 7 Black with four spare battery packs, a Panasonic Lumix GX80, four powerbanks and six memory cards.
Stepping back in Bond history
The most amazing thing about arriving in Lauterbrunnen and stepping off the train is, that you automatically get to relive that particular scene from the film. You spot the Kiosk on the corner and have the feeling of being watched by Irma Bunt. While tourists just stream in and out of trains here, we Bond fans experience a totally different perspective.
The weather forecast had worried me before I left but upon arrival in Mürren, it was a fantastic day with burning hot sunshine and clear blue skies. It was just as if the weather had adjusted in time for this magical event. The Hotel Eiger, once the “headquarters” of the James Bond film crew during filming in 1968, was the hotel of choice and it provided us with excellent service at any time of the day.
After a quick refresh and complimentary champagne from the Hotel, we embarked towards the Gala Dinner at the Palace Hotel. Immediately, you were reunited with many familiar faces from the Bond community, all dressed up in evening attire to kick off the Switzerland leg of the journey.
We were welcomed by Samuel Bohren and Christoph Egger of the Schilthornbahn AG during a splendid champagne reception. Event organizer Martijn Mulder brought out a toast to 50 years of ‘ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE’ and all us fans who had gathered here to celebrate it together.
Sixteen wheels, ready to impress
On the second day, I skipped the location bus tour to capture the setup of a special surprise. Four James Bond cars had been secretly brought to Lauterbrunnen and placed in the hangar of the Air Glaciers SA heliport – the white Lotus Esprit of ‘THE SPY WHO LOVED ME’, the legendary Aston Martin DB5, the Lotus of ‘FOR YOUR EYES ONLY’ as well as the Ford Cougar driven by Tracy in ‘ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE’. Never before had these four beauties been on display together.
“Up into the Alps!”
As a special treat, everyone had the opportunity to book a seat on a 45 minute helicopter flight with the amazing Air Glaciers SA. I would not have missed this for the world. Being flown around the most impressive mountains of the region, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau was no less than a thrilling experience.
The enormous Aletsch glacier, the largest in Switzerland, impressively demonstrated the forces of nature within this alpine panorama covered in 5° celsius snow. Touching down on Petersgrad in 3,100 meters above sea level, where parts of the ski chase of ‘ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE’ were filmed, was literally breathtaking.
Finally, approaching Schilthorn summit the same way it was in the film – it left you speechless.
Party at the Alpine Room
To conclude the nine day fan event, fans were eagerly anticipating the jewl in the crown – The Party at the Alpine Room on Schilthorn summit in 2970 meters. Arriving at Birg for the reception, the anticipation became palpable and looking up towards Piz Gloria, with huge clouds forming right behind it, was like someone had pressed the drama button.
Going round and speaking to many Bond aficionados, the emotions and expectations unravelled in front of my camera lens. This was what the official media representatives didn’t get – true and unfiltered insights into the emotional state of a Bond fan at that point in time.
Going up to Schilthorn, your heart started to race coming closer with every meter. Some fans had never visited this iconic film location before, so some pulses must have reached near-critical levels.
The Party was nothing less than a spectacular extravaganza of good food, fine wines, Bollinger champagne and of course everyones company at all the individual tables, steadily revolving in 360 degrees.
The stars happily shared their wonderful stories from the filming and as we were kindly asked to keep selfies and autographs at a minimum, my camera was also off during these moments. Rightly so, as you could much more engage in conversation and get to know the person in front of you.
I enjoyed speaking to charming Helena Ronee who has lived a very interesting life and cherishes the many memories she has of appearing in the 1969 James Bond film alongside all the other talented women who became known as Blofeld’s infamous “Angels of Death”.
What few regular tourists can experience is the sunset – a sight that truly takes all words away from you. Even now, in writing. The same sunset as in the film. Fifty years after ‘ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE’ was released, this majestic panorama view with Piz Gloria coated in golden sunlight made some tear up with joy. One moment in time, reminding you of why you are a James Bond fan.
The final highlight of this extraordinary event was the concert of ‘Q – THE MUSIC‘ who hardly require an introduction anymore. Quite rightly labeled the best James Bond tribute band, bandleader Warren Ringham and his team amazed with a two hour musical journey through the world of James Bond, including a twenty minute medley of cues from the ‘ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE’ soundtrack.
Lead singer Kerry Barnard Schultz, who was recently voted vocalist of the year at the 2019 UK National Event Entertainment Awards, delivered a stunning performance that elevated the much-loved title themes to a whole new level. It was a phenomenal gig in an iconic setting, surpassing all expectations.
Taking the last cable car down to Mürren, I left with the knowledge that what Martijn Mulder and his team of organizers as well as the Schilthorn executives had given us was a memorable experience that will be without equal in the near future.
THE BOND BULLETIN wishes to thank all organizers involved in the event, the cast & crew members who had flown in from everywhere, the car owners who allowed me to film “behind the scenes”, Air Glaciers for their continuous flight service and ultimately all the James Bond fans who appeared in front of my camera and shared their feelings!