Hello Bond lovers (and fellow Janus Syndicate members), and welcome to this thread.
Today I will answer three questions you might - or not - have asked yourself while watching GoldenEye. They are, in order;
- How did Natalya travel from Severnaya to St Petersburg?
- When do the movie's events occur and over how many days?
- Can a T-55 overtake an armored ICBM train?
Before starting, I warn you that I might use the Russian diminutive for St Petersburg ("Piter
") quite often in this ramble for obvious word length issues; at least now you know what that word means. Hence let's stop the grinnin' and drop the linen... and off we go.
How did Natalya travel from Severnaya to St Petersburg?
Actually this question is very much linked to the next, but I felt that the whole journey's breakdown was worth a separate section.
- First, where is Severnaya located?
You may already know that the place called "Severnaya" in real life (or Severnaya Zemliya
, "the Northern Land") is an archipelago in the Far North of Russia and not a godforsaken piece of central Siberia like the movie shows.
But I have two reasons to keep the movie's location. First, because the N64 game actually provides the coordinates of the fictional Severnaya (62.08N, 102.58E), and second because these coordinates correspond indeed
to a godforsaken piece of central Siberia - both Google Maps and its Russian counterpart Yandex Maps even show there is absolutely nothing
around in a 180-km radius. Sounds like the ideal place to set up a clandestine satellite control center to me...
Also, I won't take the info given by John Gardner's novelization into account, simply because of this particular quote;
"Some fifty miles inland from the furthest tip of northern Russia where the land spits out into the Arctic Ocean, there is a ruin that was once the Severnaya Station
". Non canon I say.
- If there's nothing within a 180-km range, then how could Natalya know where she was going?
Well for this I can only make suppositions. She likely didn't travel that distance only by dog sled, so she might have encountered an outpost or settlement on the way and jacked a supply truck. This is all the more relevant as while the closest village to Severnaya (Kislokan) is 180 km away, the closest train station (Karabula) is about 530 km away! I can only assume the hypothetical road vehicle came with a full tank and a precise map of the region...
- Let's say she manages to get to Karabula. How does she board a train to Piter?
That actually is the (relatively) easiest part of it all. Using 2018 Russian trains schedules – even with the formidable tool the Internet is, I am not mad enough to try to find 1995 data – the train route should look something like this;
Karabula -> Krasnoyarsk (about 14 and a half hours, only one train a day)
Krasnoyarsk -> Moscow (about 2 days and 9 hours, via Trans Siberian)
Moscow -> St Petersburg (about 4 to 7 hours)
- Subsidiary question: when does she arrive in Piter?
According to 2018 data, Natalya should arrive between 7:15 PM and 10:00PM on the third day after she departed from Karabula. But actually the movie gives us the exact time; since her train arrives right after Bond meets Wade at Pulkovo Airport, we only have to take a closer sneak peek at Bond's plane ticket as it's scanned by Q's X-ray tray
The flight from Heathrow (LHR) to Pulkovo (LED) is supposed to depart at 4:20PM, and according to the Internet the average length of a direct flight is of 3 hours and 15 minutes. Hence Bond and Natalya should both arrive in Piter by 7:35PM. This is totally coherent with what the movie shows, since some hours later – when Bond meets Trevelyan at the statue park – it is pitch black, and the Internet says that average sunset time in Piter on April 22nd (why not February 16th like on the ticket? You'll see in the next question) is around 9:30PM.
Поздравляю Наталья, у тебя получилось!
When do the movie's events occur and over how many days?
As I said earlier, this is the question that prompted me to come up with Natalya's travel route. But what I didn't say is that I asked it to myself because of another question, this time much sillier... was the GoldenEye keys Alec's birthday present? Spoiler: yes, it definitely was. Why? Let's see.
- Why did Bond and Natalya arrive in St Petersburg on April 22nd, 1995?
The plane ticket shown in the preceding question indeed showed that the date should be February 16th. But as usual I have my reasons not to trust British Airlines on that.
The most obvious clue is the quip of Wade's upon first meeting Bond; "In London, April's a spring month. In St Petersburg, we freeze our butts off.
". It sounds legitimate to me that this code phrase was chosen because it indeed was April; what's more, taking a look into The Making of GoldenEye
by Garth Pierce would reveal that this scene was shot on April 24th, 1995. Though there's other very clear hints that Wade said that on the 22nd and not 24th in the movies' diegesis.
As it happens, it is Alec who gives them all to us; first he tells Ourumov the next day "what's true is that in 48 hours, you and I will have more money than God
", and on the day of the final showdown both his and Bond's Omegas show the number 25. 25 - 3 days = 22, and with that I rest my case.
By the way, here's some trivia; the date on the plane ticket is simply due to the fact that the Q scene was shot on February 10th, again according to The Making of GoldenEye
- Fine, April 22nd. So what?
Well with that in mind we can now reconstruct the movie's timeline (not counting the 1986 segment);
(April 13th): Monaco Grande Corniche chase/casino scene/Admiral Farrel killed
(April 14th): Bond finds Farrel's dead body/Tiger stolen
(Here I give three days to Janus people to smuggle the Tiger from Monaco to Severnaya. There's 6046 km in between, and since the chopper's autonomy is 800 km I trust them to have pulled one of their arms dealer tricks to achieve that. A cargo plane, perhaps?)
(April 17th): Tiger spotted in Severnaya/GoldenEye keys stolen/Natalya survives the EMP blast
(Thanks to the previous question we already know Natalya rode trains for three days straight. I also add two other days for her to get from EMP-blasted Severnaya to Karabula train station)
(April 22nd): Bond and Natalya arrive in Piter/Bond meets Zukovsky/sauna scene/Bond meets Janus/Tiger explodes
(April 23rd): Mishkin questions Bond and Natalya/Mishkin killed/tank chase/train scene
(April 24th): Bond and Natalya arrive in Cuba/Z3 exchanged for plane/beach scene
(April 25th): plane shot down/Xenia killed/GoldenEye destroyed/final showdown with Alec
- What was that thing about Trevelyan's birthday?
Simple. Sean Bean being born on April 17th 1959, it's easy to assume Alec is too. And according to our timeline, what happens on April 17th? That's right, our old boy got on his 36th birthday a massacre of red Russian remnants, his precious cash card... and probably a good squeeze from Xenia. Could be worse for him.
С Днём Рождения тебя, Алек.
Can a T-55 overtake an armored ICBM train?
And now for something a little different, let's talk physics. I am a soon-to-be IT engineer, and it happens that I have memories of the courses I took in that field in recent years. So to find out whether or not this stunt was possible, I thought I could calculate the time needed for Trevelyan's train to catch up with a full speed T-55 with a few minutes' head start.
Physics taught me that acceleration can be found knowing travel time, vehicle power and vehicle mass, so the first step was to find both vehicles characteristics. Finding those of a T-55 (mass, power, max speed) was as easy as checking Wikipedia. For the train on the other hand, I had to imagine what kind of locomotive and carriages could be used to make an ICBM carrier. With some research I found that Soviet ICBM trains did exist – they were developed in the 1980s –, and all were towed by DM62 locomotives, as shown below;
Hence I deemed that the characteristics of the civilian version (the M62) could be used instead. Also, WWII Soviet armored cars happen to weigh about 70 tons on average. Since such cars might be a bit lighter in the eighties, I hence settled for 65 tons instead. So that makes:
- Mass: 36 t
- Max speed: 48 km/h (30 mph)
- Power: 374.4 kW (525 hp)
Trevelyan's ICBM train characteristics:
- Mass (locomotive + 2 carriages): 246 t
(- Locomotive max speed: 100 km/h (60 mph))
- Locomotive power: 1472 kW (1974 hp)
In the movie, Bond clearly gets going before the train, so I assumed that about five minutes pass between him leaving the train yard and the train actually departing. I noted d the distance travelled by Bond during these five minutes; combining the formulas found here
I found that d=5924 m.
I could then write: d + distance travelled by full speed T-55 between train starting and train catching up = distance travelled by train between start and catching up, which corresponded to a 3rd order equation after using again the formulas above.
After resolving the equation, I got that the time I was searching was 11 minutes.
What this means is that as soon as the train starts, Bond has 11 minutes to find his spot on the train tracks. In other words, if Wade showed him the train yard like in Gardner's novelization and if he studied the train routes, Bond totally has enough time to make the head-to-head scene happen (and Alec totally has time to start doing whatever he likes with Natalya...).
Of course, the four-second run to safety that ensues still is impossible, but well, as far as I'm concerned I can totally forgive that.
Кто сказал, "слишком медленно"?
So that is all guys. I'd love to hear your thoughts about all this, and if you have other such practical questions about any movie of the franchise that still remain unsolved, why not trying to find the answers together?