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James Bond's fake Day of the Dead parade was so cool Mexico wants to do it for real

Spectre, the latest Bond film, starts with a spectacular Day of the Dead parade that doesn't exist. Now the government wants to create one to avoid tourists being disappointed.
Imagen por Rex Features vía AP Images

The most recent James Bond film, Spectre, begins with the British spy chasing a bad guy through Mexico City's historic downtown district while thousands enjoy a Day of the Dead parade.

Huge skeletons smoking cigars and wearing Aztec headdresses traverse the busy central streets on large floats. Local revelers with skeleton face paintings dance wildly. Bond's tuxedo has a skeleton silhouette on it.

The scene from the movie released last year seemed tailor-made to promote Mexico's annual celebration of dead loved ones on November 1 and 2 to an international audience. But there was a problem — Mexico City didn't have a Day of the Dead parade.


It will now.

"We have to invent the Day of the Dead carnival because, after the James Bond movie, tourists are going to come looking for the carnival and they're not going to find it," Tourism Minister Enrique de la Madrid Cordero told a meeting of travel agents on the date designated to celebrate travel agents in Mexico.

Mexico City's place in Spectre was already controversial because the authorities paid for the privilege.

A few months before the movie hit theaters in November 2015, a trove of leaked emails revealed that studio executives discussed how the choice of location came in exchange for $14 million in incentives from Mexico's government.

The emails also included talk of a further $6 million, and discussion of government requests to remove a scene where the mayor of Mexico City is killed, change the villain's nationality to anything but Mexican, and find a place for the first ever Mexican Bond Girl — all of which happened.

Most importantly, the emails ruminated over replacing the original opening scene based on a cage fight with a chase through the fake Day of the Dead parade.

Though Mexico's Day of the Dead does involve some large scale public altars and a lot of skeletons — including chocolate ones — it is primarily an intimate celebration dominated by gatherings of families beside the graves of lost loved ones. The festival revolves around the belief that the spirits of dead relatives return to visit those they left behind.

Currently most tourists seeking a Day of the Dead experience head for rural indigenous communities in states such as Michoacán where cemeteries overflow with flowers, candles, color, and pathos.

Related: Mexico Reportedly Paid Millions to Hollywood for Better Portrayal in Upcoming 007 Film

Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz