Daniel Craig was in Siena, Italy on Thursday to witness the filming of the Palio horse race which will feature in the 22nd James Bond film...

Bond 22 Pre-Production Diary (6)
17th August 2007

As MI6 reported earlier in the week, a small production team headed to the Tuscan village of Siena, Italy on Thursday 16th August 2007 to film some background shots that will feature in the 22nd James Bond film. Daniel Craig was also in attendance, although he merely observed and did not feature in the filming in any way.

Above: Daniel Craig watches the action from the Palace Of Elci in a balcony overlooking
the "Madonna dell'Assunta Palio di Siena" horse race which pitches 10 neighborhoods
against each other.

As the Palio di Siena horse race is only ran twice a year, cameras traveled to Italy to capture the action ahead of principal photography, which is scheduled to start in December. 14 cameras were placed at strategic positions around the arena but helicopters were banned.

The Palio race will reportedly serve as the backdrop to key action scenes in the movie, where 007 will chase the villain through steep and narrow cobbled streets and across the rooftops on foot, after negotiating Siena's narrow underground alleys and medieval aqueducts in his Aston Martin. One of the chase locations will be the 'bottini', a network of tunnels that run under the city and cannot be visited by the public without permission. The production team reportedly visited these locations to collect the necessary information to reconstruct the tunnels and alleys at Pinewood Studios. The town council have also given permission for the production team to return between January to July 2008 to complete location shots involving the cast.

The filming agreement includes a restriction to not show any violence involving people or animals during the race, and to treat the event with "full respect". Maurizio Cenni, the mayor of Siena, said Mr Craig and the Bond film crew were "very welcome", but the Palio did not need any extra publicity. "We have imposed extremely rigid restrictions on the production" he said. "This will allow us to check the contents and editing afterward, intervening if necessary."

Above: Craig traveled with girlfriend Satsuki Mitchell to the filming.

Animal rights activists had complained about the use of the event in Bond 22, claiming it may glamorize the race which has caused 50 horses to be killed or put down since 1970. But to the relief of the Siena authorities, the huge crowd and - presumably - the film producers, all horses and jockeys survived the dangerous bareback race. The Times reports that several jockeys were unseated as horses crashed into the wall at the notoriously tight San Martino bend, falling beneath the pounding hooves of their rivals. Miraculously none was hurt. For the record the Palio was won by the Leocorno (Unicorn) contrada, with Jonathan Bartoletti riding a ten year old bay called Brento.

Bond 22 is shaping up to be a European adventure, as MI6 reported last month that location shooting could also take in an impressive Opera set in Austria and a ski sequence. The majority of filming will take place at Pinewood Studios in the UK.

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Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli (Eon Productions), QUANTUM OF SOLACE was released in the UK on October 31st 2008 and is directed by Marc Forster. Principal photography started on January 3rd 2008 at Pinewood Studios and around the UK, and foreign locations including Italy, Panama, Chile, Peru and Austria. Paul Haggis completed the script based on a first draft screenplay developed by regular scribes Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, with later polish by Joshua Zetumer. The story is a direct continuation of the events of Casino Royale. 007 faces off against villains Mathieu Amalric (Dominic Greene), Anatole Taubman (Elvis) and Joaquin Cosío (General Medrano). Olga Kurylenko (Camille) and Gemma Arterton (MI6 Agent Fields) play the Bond Girls. Dame Judi Dench (M), Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter) and Giancarlo Giannini (Mathis) reprise their roles as Bond's allies. It is British actor Daniel Craig’s second outing as James Bond, following his debut film Casino Royale released November 16th 2006.