Home / News / Visiting the gadgets in MSI’s “007 Science” exhibition

Visiting the gadgets in MSI’s “007 Science” exhibition

The last time we saw James Bond, he was falling to pieces.

I’m sorry, but “No Time to Die” is now three years old and the spoiler statute of limitations has expired. Chris Corbould blew it up. He’d been trying to blow up 007 since 1977, starting with “The Spy Who Loved Me.” We met the other day at the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park; here is a new exhibit featuring Bond gadgets and Bond gadgets, and Bond-centric lessons in physics, technology, deception and staging impossibly large explosions. It’s called “007 Science: Exploring the World of James Bond.”

Oscar-winning special effects supervisor Corbould brought with him Meg Simmonds, archive director of EON Productions, the British family company that produces James Bond films. Simmonds’ job is to collect artifacts from the Bond production and catalog each piece in one of the four storage facilities they keep in the London area. After Corbould blows James up, one imagines Simmonds pocketing 007’s cufflinks.

He lent MSI… oh dear, James, where do we begin: a suitcase of nukes, a fake Faberge egg, a garden rake that doubles as a metal detector, a flute that doubles as a microphone, jetpacks, bionic eyes, leg casts fire rockets, poison-tipped sandals.

Remember those stainless steel teeth that Richard “Jaws” Kiel wore? They are here too.

Simmonds told me, “These teeth were shaped by a dentist, and yet they were too painful to wear for any length of time. Anderson Cooper stopped by to do an episode on our 50th anniversary and actually put those teeth in your mouth. Of course they barely fit.

Ah.

“Yes I know.”

Created in collaboration with MSI and EON, “007 Science” is a showcase of the unbelievable and the ridiculous – but it’s also a serious reminder of both the stringent standards required to create these ridiculous things and just how prescient the movies are. and especially the James Bond movies were about predicting future technologies. In fact, there are so many everyday technologies in this series that Simmonds insists were introduced to film audiences through Bond – pagers, cell phones, bulletproof vests, eyeball scanners – alongside fictional spy, email-guessing HG Wells It seems to be included. —bombs, genetic engineering and automatic doors, and “Star Trek,” which imagines flat screens, voice-activated technology, flip phones and tablet computers.

However, the ski pole, which also doubled as a weapon, never gained much attention.

“The ski pole was your first tool,” said Simmonds, to which Corbould replied: “It was! I started when I was only 17, I did that.

EON Productions’ archival director Meg Simmonds and special effects supervisor Chris Corbould stand next to the Jaguar XKR from “Die Another Day” in the “007 Science: Exploring the World of James Bond” section at the Museum of Science and Industry. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Corbould won an Academy Award for special effects on Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” and also did special effects for Nolan’s Batman films, several “Star Wars” films, the original “Superman” series, Who’s “Tommy” and earlier films. 15 Bond movies. He holds the Guinness World Record for staging the largest explosion in a movie. He won this title with the 2008 Bond movie “Quantum of Solace” and broke his own record with great success with the 2015 Bond movie “Spectre”. There is a photo of the “Quantum” bada explosion in the exhibition.

Examining the image, Simmonds said, “Magnificent explosion.”

“Yes, I think so,” Corbould agreed.

He turned to me and said, “Look, when they’re making Bond, they want it to be as real as possible. Most of it is not CGI. Bond is tied to this table and he’s about to get a drill into his head, but then he escapes and there’s a bunch of gas pipes – oh, it’s huge – the explosion starts right here, just like you see in this picture, then it spreads around and comes up to the two actors in the foreground of the shot. This shot features close to 300 separate explosions, fired by computerized detonators, all set to go off at a specific time. However … when you press the button, there’s a three-second delay, and I say to Daniel Craig: ‘Look, no pressure, Daniel, I’m going to press this button before you finish your turn and so on. don’t (expletive) this line.” Months of work to set this up. On the other hand, you create contingencies, so even if half the explosions don’t explode, it’s still big.”

Simmonds listened with the proud face of a stage parent, or rather, in this case, the custodian of the work of a film franchise that dates back to the Kennedy administration.

“You know,” he said, “I think we should have handed out leaflets to the Bedouin nomads who were near the explosion saying, ‘Okay, this isn’t the beginning of World War III, it’s just James Bond.'”

We continued walking.

Among the first big pieces you see is an Aston Martin flipped upside down in “Casino Royale.” In fact, Simmonds says: “It was a bit inverted. record holder how many times — seven!”

Aston Martin DBS featured in the movie “Casino Royale”. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

As worn out as it looks in the MSI showroom (deep scratches across the body, dented windows and sunroof, demolished headlights), I’ve seen worse while driving on Lake Shore Drive. “The stuntmen came to us,” Corbould said. “They tried to turn it unaided, but Aston Martins weren’t designed to turn, so we put a little piston in the car that the driver could turn on with a button. It swoops down under the car, gives that little physics advantage, and you get what you see in the movie: the car going over and over again.”

“When I saw the footage I thought to myself, this is where Bond becomes unreal to me,” Simmonds said. No one survived the crash, but Bond did. The problem is that the stunt driver survived, of course. The next day I sat next to him at dinner. It looked great.”

Corbould told me that the only time he doubted whether he could stage something convincingly was not for a Bond movie, but during the production of “Dark Knight” in Chicago. He had to overturn an eighteen-wheeler truck on LaSalle Street. He did it with heart-stopping precision. He also directed the explosion in that movie. this brought it down An old Brach’s candy factory on Cicero Avenue. He talks about these things with such British nonchalance that he made racing an Aston Martin across a frozen lake in “Living Daylight” feel like just another day. He waited three weeks for the ice to thicken sufficiently. Bond has never lost his car on a frozen lake yet. But he’s worried about how he’ll get it out if something like this happens.

Frankly, when we look around we see that we have a gadget for this.

Cello case sled from the movie “Living Daylight”. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)
The firearm of the same name from the movie “The Man with the Golden Gun”. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

One of the neatest aspects of this extravagant show is the number of actual spy trappings that MSI has included, mostly on loan from the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC: KGB cameras, CIA surveillance recorders, paper-smuggling vials, bases full of daggers. But what’s really ridiculous is the Bond thing. Dynamite toothpaste (“Dentonite”), escape sleds that double as cello cases. “Here is the Golden Gun Man’s golden weapon!” Simmonds said. Its barrel also serves as a pen, and the trigger is a cufflink. Very golden and very gaudy.

I asked him if they call this the Trump Gun in the office.

“I didn’t think of that!”

We passed a submarine car; “Elon Musk bought our motorized version at auction,” Simmonds said. We passed by an underwater breathing apparatus that so impressed the Corps of Royal Engineers that they asked the filmmakers for plans. (The art director told them this would only work if they held their breath for a long, long time…)

Lotus Esprit S1 “Wet Nellie” from the movie “The Spy Who Loved Me” in the new James Bond exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

We stopped next to a pair of jetpacks, one vintage, one contemporary.

In addition to flying cars, technology has also been prayed for for a long time.

“So this jet pack,” Simmonds said, nodding at the vintage model from 1965’s “Thunderball,” “this jet pack never quite took off. “We were only able to store enough fuel for a 21-second flight.” He sighed as if it were a personal failure. “I still want one.”

“007 Science: Exploring the World of James Bond” runs through October 27 at Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, 57th St. and will continue as a timed entry ticket to DuSable Lake Shore Drive; $18 plus museum admission or $35 for exhibition-only evening hours www.msichicago.org

cborrelli@chicagotribune.com

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