On Location: Mexico City’s Day of the Dead Festival by Ben Waterworth

Australian JBR fan and fellow Bond podcaster Ben Waterworth was in Mexico City for the recent first inaugural Day of the Dead Festival inspired by the pre-titles sequence of SPECTRE. He captured some extraordinary photos and even put together a brilliant video documenting this epic experience!

Ben Waterworth at the Day of the Dead Festival
Ben Waterworth at the Day of the Dead Festival

As a massive James Bond fan and rival James Bond podcast host (Double Oz Seven is the name of it, shameless plug out of the way) travelling to Mexico City for the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix, I for one was always going to make my way into the city at some point to check out the locations used in the spectacular opening sequence of Spectre. It was an absolute no-brainer. On my first full day in the city I did exactly that and headed to the main square downtown known as ‘Zocalo’ to see the area in which THAT epic helicopter scene was filmed. Safe to say I was impressed, with its size and all the amazing buildings surrounding it. I even managed to explore the surrounding streets to check out the buildings in which Bond happened to scale on his way to pretty much wiping out an entire city block for the greater good. Sadly I didn’t find the couch he landed on. I was also witness to loads of people setting up monuments inside the square for the Day of the Dead celebrations set to occur the following week.

Gran Hotel Ciudad De Mexico

Sadly, I thought I was going to miss them as I departed on Monday, however, as luck would have it the city was hosting its first ever street parade to celebrate the occasion inspired by Spectre itself. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

After jetting from the F1 circuit back into the city I made my way back to Zocalo and joined the hundreds of thousands of people who had lined the streets to see the inaugural parade. I even managed to find the Gran Hotel Ciudad De Mexico which was used for the interior shots of Bond going into the hotel with Estrella during the opening of Spectre as well as being used as the hotel in Licence To Kill when Bond and Pam Bouvier rendezvous with Q. Sadly I wasn’t allowed inside to see the amazing interiors but being that close to a piece of Bond film history was an amazing experience.

day-dead-12A good 2 hour wait then ensued as I made my way through thick rivers of people that shoved and pushed people anyway they pleased. It was an almighty effort to move around with the amount of people that were there, and something personally I’ve never experienced before. I can tell you now that if the events of Spectre were to have occurred then thousands of people would’ve been crushed to death from the panic of an exploding building and out of control helicopter. No wonder M was so pissed! The parade finally arrived and for over an hour a large spectacle unfolded before my eyes. Hundreds of people dressed as skeletons, ghouls, etc. Some were not even dressed at all (plenty of male and female nipples on display – Bond definitely would’ve loved it) walked along with giant skeletons, Aztec monuments and other Day of the Dead paraphernalia. The hundreds of thousands of people on the streets were all dressed up in face paint and other costumes making the atmosphere electric.

day-dead-15There were even people hanging out of buildings above the square to get a good look making it even more amazing to see. The highlight perhaps was the skeleton prop actually used in Spectre with the cigar from its mouth in the very opening scene. That was by far my favourite part (even more so than the nipples) and to see it up close and personal was just awesome. Judging by the crowd and the response they gave, it’s safe to assume Mexico City has found a new event to look forward to each year. To experience it in person was just something else, and words cannot describe fully what it was like to see it live. Hopefully Bond himself can return next year and finally get a chance to spend a few more minutes with Estrella as I believe she’s still waiting for him in that room.

Watch Ben’s video below.

article, photos, and video by Ben Waterworth


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One Response

  1. Not too proud to admit that I missed the event. I’m not a big fan of crowds and besides, during last year’s filming I went through a whole week of this sort of thing.
    ICYM….just a couple of blocks from where the “Spectre” building collapsed, you can find the “Teatro de la ciudad” which doubled for Sanchez’ casino/office in “Licence to Kill”. Also close by, you can find the main post office which was used for his “Banco de Isthmus”.
    Last year, a couple of months after the “Spectre” filming took place, I went back to the Gran Hotel as to show it to some friends and indeed, it wasn’t easy getting permission to go inside (which is totally worth the effort!). If you should ever have to give it another shot just tell the doorman you will be staying at the lobby. My guess is that they might have been spooked by the Day of the Death crowds and perhaps that was the reason they did not allow you to enter.
    Nice article!

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