Goldeneye’s Energy Weapons

goldeneye poster

1995, United Artists

Returning to an earlier theme of energy in James Bond movies, I was surprised to see a few elements in Goldeneye (1995). That movie was notable for a few reasons: it was the first Bond film made after the disintegration of the Soviet Union; it was the first to star Pierce Brosnan as James Bond; and it was the first to star Judi Dench as M.

It also features a few interesting energy components.

The movie opens with an incredible stunt scene in which James Bond bungee jumps approximately one thousand feet from the top of a hydroelectric dam in order to enter through the roof of the Arkangel Chemical Weapons Facility in the USSR.  (Note: The dam where the breathtaking stunt scene was filmed is actually in Switzerland.)

While visually striking and convenient, it’s not clear why a chemical weapons facility would be co-located with a dam.  Historically, dams provide cheap electricity for enriching uranium and smelting aluminum, so they are often affiliated with weapons production. Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennessee and the Hanford Site in Washington were used for enriching nuclear materials in the 1940s because they were close to new dams that had been built by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and along the Columbia River in the 1930s.  At its peak, the Manhattan Project was responsible for about 1/6th of all electricity consumption in the United States for enriching uranium during WWII.

But chemical weapons? To my knowledge, manufacturing chemical weapons is not particularly electricity-intensive, so the co-location with a dam would be a higher risk, not a benefit.

Nuclear energy also makes an appearance. Terrorists deploy a nuclear satellite designed to send an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to destroy electronics systems in a particular location.

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