Skyfall, Hashima Island, and how do they know?


In the movie, Skyfall, James Bond ends up – I guess he doesn’t actually end up there because it is in the middle of the movie – on an abandoned island off the coast of Macau. The island, at first, does not seem like it can be real but as the scene(s?) go on, it just looks too good to be fake. As it turns out, the island is real. It is an abandoned island off the coast of Japan named Hashima Island. It was originally built – bought and colonized – by Mitsubishi, in 1890, to house workers working on nearby underwater coal mines (and I don’t want to even imagine how that must have worked). Later, as Japan moved away from coal, Mitsubishi abandoned its island leaving me to wonder how the James Bond people ever found it.

Maybe they had a scene on an abandoned island and went searching for one, or, maybe, the local Chamber of Commerce is peddling the island as a great place to shoot a picture. I like to think that I have a pretty good knowledge knowledge of the world but it shocks me to find out that an island like  Hashima exists and I have never even heard of it. I had no idea that it existed or that the Japanese mined coal – underwater! – near Nagasaki.

One of the best people to find great locations like this was George Lucas and Star Wars was filled with real locations, from Golden Canyon in Death Valley to Ksar Hadada in Tunisia to Temple IV at Tikal in Guatemala.

Death Valley -1

Death Valley -0


I have been to Death Valley – duh!  I have probably bee more times than I have been anywhere else away from home – and I have been to Tikal twice but, in 1977 I had never heard of Tikal and I hadn’t heard of Ksar Hadada until about an hour ago (although, at sometime in the distant past, I did know that some scenes were shot in Tunisia which is how I found Ksar Hadada).

On the otherhand, faking the use of exotic places is probably more usual than actually using them. Southern California is an incredibly varied place, both in terrine and culture. As an aside, the California Title 24 building standards which set building standards to cut back on energy consumption is based on 16 climate zones found around the state. All 16 zones are found in Los Angeles County, from Coastal to Above Timber line. End aside.

Justified, one of Michele and my favorite programs, which realistically takes place in Harlan County Tennessee, is filmed in its entirety in and around Los Angeles County (except for the opening credits). The story line is culturally Harlan County but the terrine is SoCal.



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