This morning, Yoli asked me eagerly if I had already read the Post-Dispatch review of the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. I had not, so I opened up the GO! Magazine and began to flip through it. I was taking my time, so Yoli began pestering me to get to the review.
When I finally began reading the review, I wasn’t sure why she was so excited about it. Then about halfway down, I realized the answer: A good chunk of the movie is set in Bolivia! Apparently the writers decided to ground the story in some reality: Bolivia’s history of water problems, like the “water war” in Cochabamba.
Of course, the producers didn’t actually film in Bolivia. They used Panama and Chile to stand in for Bolivia.
The choice of Chile is a bit of a surprise, especially when you consider where in Chile they filmed: the Antofagasta region, which was captured by Chile from Bolivia during the “War of the Pacific” in 1879. This strip of land was Bolivia’s only sea coast; losing it meant that Bolivia became landlocked.
Because of Yoli and our trips to Bolivia, I am well aware of the bad blood between Bolivians and Chileans over this issue. Bolivians have a song about it (“Recuperemos nuestro mar”), which says “We will recover our sea!” There is also a “Museo Litoral” in La Paz, a museum dedicated to the memory of their coast. I visited it in 2005.
To this day, the issue of sea access remains very thorny and comes up frequently. Though there has been a thaw in relations between the two countries recently, in my limited experience it seems that people on both sides still don’t like the others.
Apparently the producers of the film were unaware this very sore point persists. Producer Michael G. Wilson said “We knew there was a war 100 years ago, but we didn’t know it was still an issue.”
It didn’t take long for them to find out!
A former mayor of a small town in Chile was so upset to learn that his country would be standing in for lowly Bolivia, that he began staging small protests over the issue. He even drove a vehicle onto the set and interrupted filming of the movie.
I’m not much of a Bond aficianado, though I did like Casino Royale. But now it seems certain we’ll have to go see this Bond movie.