In their never-ending quest for dramatic locations, the makers of James Bond movies have set up shop everyplace from the Bahamas to Istanbul and come very near to exhausting the world’s exotic locales. But when the producers of For Your Eyes Only, the twelfth Bond epic, found Greece’s Meteora, they were sure they had come up with one more site for sore eyes: a brooding landscape of monumental gray rock capped, literally, by half a dozen ancient monasteries. The aeries go back to the 14th century when, as a bar to women and other unworthies, they could be reached only by ladders or ropes. Now they are accessible by tourist buses, and the monks do a brisk business in meals and souvenirs. Yet Meteora retains the ghostly presence of the ascetics who began to populate it more than 600 years ago.
Seeking to capitalize on that atmosphere, the producers of Eyes picked Meteora’s Monastery of the Holy Trinity, promising the monks they would build their own monastery set close by and use Holy Trinity only for a few exterior shots. They thought the monks agreed. But when the time for shooting approached, the monks locked the doors to outsiders and denounced the producers as desecrators. Finally, when actor Roger Moore arrived to do his stuff as James Bond, he and the cast found the walls of Holy Trinity bedecked with the monks’ underwear, sheets, plastic tarps, toilet paper and other obstructive eyesores.
“We got what we needed by shooting around all that,” says a spokesman for the producers, now happily back in England. There have been rumors the monks would sue for the business they lost when they closed their monastery. Greek newspapers have suggested a reason for the bizarre caper: The monks were expecting a “donation” from the producers and the amount offered was too low.