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From Switzerland with love

Actors Anatole Taubman and Carl von Malaise joined director Marc Forster and producer Barbara Broccoli for the Swiss premiere (left to right)

(Keystone)

Stars of the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, directed by Switzerland's Marc Forster, came out for the Swiss premiere near Lucerne. But they were without Bond.

Actor Daniel Craig, who plays 007, was ill in bed and unable to attend. However, excitement around the premiere on Tuesday evening, said to be the largest ever in Switzerland, was still high.

Swiss fans were able to see Forster on the red carpet at the Kino MAXX cinema in the town of Emmenbrücke near Lucerne.

"The atmosphere is pretty extraordinary and very, very special. It's an incredible thing to be home and to be here," Forster, whose arrival was greeted by cheers from the crowd, told swissinfo.

He said he always felt nervous presenting a film to the home country, and was honoured by the big turnout.

There had been hopes earlier in the day that the ill Craig might still make it to the Swiss premiere. But it was not to be.

"He's in the hotel, in Lucerne. Unfortunately he has the flu," Forster said.

Also on the red carpet was Swiss actor Anatole Taubman, who plays the baddie henchman Elvis in the film – albeit with an unfetching bowl haircut.

The 36-year-old Zurich actor, clad in a cap, told swissinfo that it was "phenomenal" to be in Switzerland. "My heart's beating at a double pace," he said.

Taubman added that he loved playing a villain - and speaking a line of Swiss German in the film.

"I think I'll be the only Bond character ever who speaks in Swiss German to his mother," he said.

Also taking to the red carpet in smart suits and glamorous dresses were many Swiss celebrities, including former ice dance champion Stéphane Lambiel and Olympic Bronze medallist for judo Sergei Aschwanden. Some, particularly the ladies, said they were disappointed that Craig had not come.

The government was represented by a dapper-looking Communications Minister Moritz Leuenberger.

The film itself opens in Swiss cinemas on November 6.

Lucerne coup

The premiere has been quite a coup for the picturesque Lucerne region.

Marcel Perren, managing director of Lucerne Tourism, said that Emmenbrücke had been chosen because Lucerne did not have a big enough cinema for 1,500 people.

Perren said it was a "wonderful opportunity" for the area, which has been trying to raise its film profile.

"James Bond is known worldwide and having that in Lucerne is just great," he told swissinfo in the run-up.

The Bond entourage arrived in Lucerne the night before the premiere, staying in a luxury Hotel.

Christian Jungen, film editor at the Mittelland Zeitung newspaper and a film scholar, told swissinfo before the event that it was likely to be Switzerland's largest ever premiere.

"Forster has said that he wanted to shoot in Switzerland but it was not possible. He still has family and friends in Davos where he grew up and he really wanted to give something back to Switzerland," he told swissinfo.

"Switzerland is also one of the top ten Bond territories in numbers of tickets sold and in relation to the inhabitants it's the best Bond territory, which is another reason Disney Switzerland decided to have a premiere in Lucerne."

Forster's Bond

In Quantum of Solace, Bond is on a mission across South America and Europe to stop an ecoterrorist from controlling precious natural resources. He also wants to learn why the woman he loved in the last film, Casino Royale, betrayed him.

It is the first 007 film for Forster, who is better known for his art house movies, like the Oscar-winning Monster's Ball. Swiss critics have mostly liked the film, with some reservations.

"I was slightly disappointed especially because I expected more from Marc Forster who is known to be an actors' director and I thought the characters were rather flat. In particular, the main villain is not evil enough and the Bond girls are not sexy enough," said Jungen.

He said that Forster perhaps wanted to make history by leaving out the Martini, gadgets and the trademark 'my name is Bond, James Bond' phrase, making the franchise darker.

"But it's a good movie, an action-driven movie, and if you're looking for some adrenalin, it will please you," he said.

Swissness galore

Forster told swissinfo at a media conference in Lucerne's palace hotel ahead of the evening premiere that there was a certain amount of "Swissness" in film. This came from the fact that he always puts personal touches in his films.

The film director said that he was drawn to characters like Bond which were "emotionally not really that accessible". This northern European tendency to be slightly more emotionally closed off was also part of his Swiss background.

"My aesthetic in general definitely has an imprint of European cinema more than United States cinema," he added.

The filmmakers will be hoping that the latest Bond offering will be as popular as Casino Royale, which broke Swiss 007 records.

Film journalist Jungen says the Swiss feel they are part of Bond's history. Not only is the spy half Swiss through his mother, but the country has been used many times as a film location.

"That's why we still love Bond," said Jungen.

swissinfo, Isobel Leybold-Johnson from the Kino MAXX in Emmenbrücke

In brief

The world premiere of Quantum Of Solace took place on October 29 in London.

The Swiss premiere took place on November 4 and the film will open in Swiss German cinemas from November 6, before rolling out across the country. A record 175 copies of the film have been distributed in Switzerland.

Around 170 media attended the Swiss premiere. A gala party at the Ruag-Halle with 1,500 guests took place afterwards. Hundreds of fans also turned up for the red carpet.

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Marc Forster

Forster made his director's debut in 2000, with the psychological thriller Everything Put Together. Among his best known films are The Kite Runner (2007) and Monster's Ball (2001), which was nominated twice for an Oscar, with Halle Berry winning best actress. Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet also received 7 Oscar nominations.

Born in Germany, Forster was raised in Davos, Switzerland, and became a Swiss citizen in June 2008. He has retained close ties to the country throughout his career.

His early ambition was to make films and in 1990 he moved to New York to study film. In 1995 he moved on to Hollywood. "When you grow up like that and suddenly you decide to make movies, everybody says it's impossible, but here I am, and I am living my dream," he has said.

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For Swiss eyes only

Bond author Ian Fleming was once engaged to a Swiss woman. He therefore made Bond half-Swiss, with his mother coming from canton Vaud.

Perhaps the most well known Swiss location was the revolving restaurant on top of the Schilthorn in the Bernese Oberland, used in On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969.

The Verzasca dam in canton Ticino was used for the spectacular opening bungee jump sequence of 1995's GoldenEye.

However, Switzerland's most eye-catching contribution to the series was female - Bern's Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in a white bikini in Bond's first cinematic outing, Dr No.

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