Astronomy goes James Bond

Part of the upcoming James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace” was filmed at Paranal Observatory in Chile, home of the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The European Southern Observatory, which operates the VLT and some other major telescopes, is making good use of the publicity this brings to astronomy. They set up a dedicated website, BondAtParanal.org, and made a very slick Bond-style video clip about the VLT. The Bond producers kindly gave permission for the 007 Theme to be used.

My thesis adviser was at Paranal when the movie scenes were shot in late March. Her husband is ESO’s Director General, so he was there as well. They met director Marc Forster, some of the producers, and the lead actors: Daniel Craig (Bond), Olga Kurylenko (Bond girl Camille) and Mathieu Amalric (villain Dominic Greene). After the first day of shooting, they took most of the crew on a tour of the VLT. A few hours later, they took 007 himself (and his girlfriend, and three body guards) on a private tour. According to my adviser’s enthusiastic stories, everyone was very excited to be at Paranal and very interested in the work going on there.

As a way of saying thanks, the producers invited my adviser’s husband over to the Pinewood Studios in London in June. My adviser of course freed up some of her schedule to go along. The Paranal Residencia had been rebuilt at full scale, except for some modifications to benefit the story. It will feature as the villain’s hideout and will be blown up at the end of the movie, which ESO didn’t want them to do with the real thing.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing QoS. It’ll be difficult for it to be better than “Casino Royale”, but the scenes at Paranal alone are going to make for an awesome movie.

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