With the 2015 release of Spectre, the 24th film in the venerable James Bond franchise, I thought this would be as good a time as any to talk about my visit to Bond World 007, atop the Schilthorn mountain in the Berner Oberland of Switzerland.
Why a Mountaintop Museum?
The 9,744-foot Schilthorn is a cable-car-accessible ski mountain and tourist attraction overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley in central Switzerland. From here, magnificent views of the fabled Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks await. Here, the spectacular Piz Gloria restaurant rotates 360 degrees in an hour to treat diners to an Alpine panorama. And here, many of the most action-packed and memorable scenes from the Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) were filmed.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the 6th James Bond movie, is unique among the Bond films in two respects.
First, it was the only Bond movie to star British actor George Lazenby. Following the first five films in which Sean Connery played the lead, Lazenby played a similarly suave and ironic Bond. Connery returned for the 7th film, Diamonds Are Forever, followed by 7 films in a row starring Roger Moore. Bond was subsequently played by Timothy Dalton (2 films), Pierce Brosnan (4) and Daniel Craig (4).
The second unique aspect to this film is that it is the only one in which Bond gets married. Tracy Draco, played by Diana Rigg, becomes Mrs. Bond. Briefly.
In this film, Telly Savalas reprises his role as the evil Blofeld, leader of SPECTRE. High-altitude hijinks ensue, with dramatic ski sequences, helicopter rescues, car chases, and gun play. A bobsled chase is a thrilling bonus!
Bond World 007
So it is only natural that here, amidst the alpine splendor of one of the most exhilarating Bond movies ever, there should be a tribute to James Bond and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Even the casual Bond lover will enjoy the hands-on exhibits, such as the helicopter cockpit and and bobsled chase simulator (a video of your personal bobsled run is made available for purchase).
More devout Bond aficionados will appreciate the in-depth look behind the scenes of the films. Props from Bond films such as Miss Moneypenny’s hat rack, the “red phone,” and Bond’s dress kilt are also on display. A small movie theater shows clips of the George Lazenby film and provides some documentary about the Schilthorn and surrounding area.
Getting to the top of the Schilthorn involves four cable car lifts. The base lift departs from the hamlet of Stechelberg, a short bus ride from Lauterbrunnen, which in turn is a short train ride from Interlaken. From Stechelberg, the cable car goes to Gimmelwald, then continues to Mürren, where you switch to another cable car (immediately adjacent to the first) that goes to Birg and then on to the Schildthorn/Piz Gloria summit. The series of lifts costs about $100USD all together, and you can get off at any of the stations and reboard at your convenience.
Admission to Bond World 007 is included in the purchase of your lift ticket. If you go in the morning, consider adding the approximately $30USD “007 Breakfast Buffet” to your experience, complete with champagne. If you arrive later in the day, perhaps a “shaken, not stirred” martini at the James Bond Bar will be in order. Either way, high-altitude hijinks and secret agent fantasies are yours for the taking here in Alpine Switzerland.
(Top Photo: The entrance to the Bond World 007 exhibit)