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Hollwoods car designer Harald Belker: "A Porsche is too sober for Bond"

2021-09-22T06:41:38.227Z

In “No Time to Die” James Bond drives four Aston Martin models. Hollywood car designer Harald Belker explains what matters when it comes to Bond's company car - and why Batman will never drive a Tesla.



Enlarge image

Spectacular car stunt from the new Bond film "No Time to Die": Here a Range Rover Sport SVR takes off.

Photo: Jasin Boland / Land Rover

The latest James Bond film should actually start in April 2020.

Corona threw the film start upside down.

But now, with a year and a half delay, leading actor Daniel Craig returns to the screen as secret agent 007 in "No Time to Die" (from September 30th).

At first it was said that Bond, who was already traveling in a duck, in a speedboat and in a tank, would drive electrically for the first time in the new film.

"That is misinformation, Bond will not drive electrically," said a spokeswoman for the manufacturer Aston-Martin when asked by SPIEGEL.

There is even more speculation about the gadgets that will be built into his new cars.

Harald Belker, 60, one of the most sought-after movie car designers in Hollywood, has been ensuring that heroes, villains and agents are perfectly equipped for decades.

In the SPIEGEL interview, he explains what makes film cars special and why he never wanted to drive any of his creations himself.

SPIEGEL:

Mr. Belker, after going back and forth as to whether James Bond drives electrically in the new film - would that even suit him?

Belker:

Yes, absolutely.

A lot will happen in the film industry in the near future.

The e-cars are faster than all gasoline-powered vehicles.

This is important in car chases.

SPIEGEL:

What is the particular challenge in designing Bond's company car?

Belker:

Bond's cars are sponsored products.

As a movie car designer, I usually have nothing to do with it.

But I like the way Aston Martin has equipped the cars so far.

Bond always has enough toys to use to hunt down criminals.

SPIEGEL:

Is the car actually being developed around the actor or the film character?

Belker:

As I said, Bond is about sponsorship.

In Batman, for example, the car is not developed around the character or the actor, but is always a product of the time in which the film is made.

This can be seen very clearly in the films of director Chris Nolan with Christian Bale as Batman (from 2005).

The then globally increasing military influence flowed into the design of the Batmobile.

In the typically fantastic way that just barely makes sense, of course.

SPIEGEL:

So when you designed the Batmobile for "Batman & Robin" (1997), you didn't have George Clooney in your head?

Belker:

No.

George is a great guy, but when I design a car I don't think about the actor and future driver.

But it is important to know how big it is.

Ultimately, the cars are tailor-made.

With my two meters, I don't fit into any of my vehicles.

SPIEGEL:

Would you like to drive one of your movie cars every day?

Belker:

Movie vehicles are just incredibly uncomfortable to drive.

If I had the choice, I might hang the skin of the Lexus from "Minority Report" on my wall as a sculpture.

But I really don't want to drive one, that's just too impractical.

SPIEGEL:

In "Minority Report" you designed autonomous cars as early as 2002.

You were way ahead of reality ...

Belker:

I always say when someone comes up with something and it is discussed afterwards - then this idea will also become reality at some point.

I have unlimited freedom in film.

That is why things are often shown there that could become reality 20 years later.

The main thing that matters is that the idea is good.

When I was still working at Mercedes, we were already dealing with technology and the environment in 30 years.

SPIEGEL:

Where do you get your ideas from?

Do you have such crazy cars in Los Angeles?

Belker:

Not really.

Sure, you can see some Lamborghini or Ferrari here as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

But my creative world is my office.

I feel good here and like to think about the future.

Of course, the internet is also a great help.

I often spend an hour on Pinterest and see what the world has to offer in terms of creativity.

SPIEGEL:

In the new Batman film, Batman is played by Robert Pattinson.

The film is due to appear in spring 2022, and the first pictures of the new Batmobile are already available.

Your impression?

Belker:

Original and away from the military look again.

Each Batmobile has had its own character so far.

After all, a lot of toys are supposed to be sold.

From a car designer perspective, however, I don't see anything new.

It looks more like cobbled together from the spare parts drawer.

SPIEGEL:

The new Batmobile was created by designer Jeff Frost.

What influences do you see in the design?

Belker:

Definitely muscle cars from the 1960s, and really pimped up.

That fits perfectly for a comic book adaptation.

I think the designer had a lot of fun doing his job.

SPIEGEL:

The look is reminiscent of the first Batmobile from the 1960s.

Is Batman getting retro now?

Belker:

Hm, the first Batmobile from the TV series was more of a concept car.

The entire execution and, above all, the integration of all the superhero extras - that was solved fantastically.

The new Batmobile actually only consists of an engine paired with a touch of nostalgia, just the typical muscle car look.

SPIEGEL:

This look is combined with a fat V10 engine with a displacement of 6.8 liters.

Is that still up to date?

Belker:

Loud roars and fire from the exhaust not only look good, it also sounds good.

I don't think Batman will ever ride a Tesla.

That wouldn't be macho-like at all.

SPIEGEL:

Are there films for which it is particularly difficult or easy to design a suitable car?

Belker:

It's not about easy and difficult.

It is more important how creative I can be.

When a car is designed and built from the ground up, that's ideal.

Modifying existing cars can also be fun if I'm allowed to do crazy things.

Because when it's fun, the work is easy.

I think it's the same with every creative person.

SPIEGEL:

Do the image of a car and the image of a film character have to go together?

Belker:

I think so.

Take Batman as an example.

There the vehicle is just as much a personality as the hero of the film.

In “Back to the Future” the DeLorean also became an icon itself, as the car is an important part of the story.

And film productions only spend money on a car when it becomes a personality who in turn helps the actor to be the hero.

SPIEGEL:

Back to 007. Are there any no-gos in the design of the Bond car?

Belker:

You can't let an English secret agent drive around in an Italian supercar.

In my opinion, a Porsche would probably be more suitable.

But even a Porsche is too sober for Bond.

The flair of an English sports car is awesome for Bond.

SPIEGEL:

Some cars have become famous for their film roles and are thus determined.

The VW Beetle as »Herbie«, the DeLorean through its appearance on »Back to the Future«.

The Aston Martins DB5 at James Bond.

Are these cars out of the running for other productions?

Belker:

I think so.

I can't imagine seeing the DeLorean in any other role.

At most in a comedy.

SPIEGEL:

What would the 007 car look like if you as a Batmobile designer had a completely free hand?

Belker:

Phew, I'd have to think about it for a few days.

In my opinion, the ideal Bond car would be practically several cars in one.

Since he is constantly falling into new situations, he would have to drive a car that quickly specializes and adapts.

Quasi a transformer, of course with the typical Bond touch of elegance.

Because Bond always has to look cool.

SPIEGEL:

How does the film genre influence the vehicle you design?

Belker:

Actually, the work and the process are very similar. I draw, I model and then I have it built. How it looks then and what the car can do depends on the script. The biggest difference lies in the question of HOW the car is driven. Should it just look great and just be able to drive a little? Then you can do what you want with a vehicle and go all out. But if stunts are required, then different variations of the car are built. They are then built specifically for the one stunt, without an interior and also without an engine. Miniature versions of my Batmobile have even been built, which can then be seen in the film as they fly through the air.

SPIEGEL:

Let's move on to a little movie car game.

For the following film characters, please name the vehicle that you think would be a perfect match for the character.

Let's start: Indiana Jones.

Belker:

A van.

SPIEGEL:

Matrix hero Neo drives?

Belker:

A virtual reality car that changes every 5 minutes.

SPIEGEL:

Princess Leia from Star Wars?

Belker:

Drives the Mini Cooper

SPIEGEL:

And Arnie, the Terminator?

Belker:

He'll get the Tesla Cybertruck.

SPIEGEL:

The bride from Kill Bill?

Belker:

BMW Roadster Convertible.

SPIEGEL:

And John McLane from Die Hard?

Belker:

Lobster.

SPIEGEL:

Forrest Gump.

Belker:

Fiat 500.

SPIEGEL:

Last question: How do you take a movie car out of traffic appropriately and in a dignified manner?

Belker:

Put it in the museum

where

it is clearly visible.

SPIEGEL:

Mr. Belker, thank you for talking to us.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-09-22

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