Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Film sites

Walk in the trail of zombies, visit Sick Boy's pub or peep into Derek Jarman's garden

Oliver Bennett, Catherine Shoard, Bibi van der Zee, Vivien Devlin and Gavin Bell
The Observer, Sunday 5 April 2009
Article history

Derek Jarman in the garden at his home in Dungeness. Photograph: Geraint Lewis/Rex Features

The French Lieutenant's Woman, Cumbria

Broad Leys, a huge house overlooking Lake Windermere, is considered the masterpiece by Arts and Crafts architect FA Voysey, and featured in the film The French Lieutenant's Woman as the house Meryl Streep lives in at the end of the film. It is now the headquarters of the Windermere Motor Boat Club, which allows paying guests to stay in its four bedrooms.

• Ghyll Head, LA23; 015394 43284


Oliver Bennett

Get Carter, Gateshead

Look slippy if you want to tour the dilapidated multi-storey car park in Trinity Square that Michael Caine chucks his enemy off in Get Carter. Tyneside council have slated it for imminent demolition, and even now only seven of the 11 floors are viewable. Many of the sinister boozers visited by Caine in the movie are no more either, but you can have an authentically grim time at the West Road crematorium and at Newcastle racecourse (High Gosforth Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3), both featured in the crime classic.

Catherine Shoard

Michael Winner's nudie films, Hertfordshire

It's the oldest naturist sun-club in the UK, and 1929-vintage Speilplatz - a mini-village of chalets hidden from view in Hertfordshire's leafy lanes - remains open to those who wish to disrobe for the day (you'll have to become a member). Spielplatz also has an illustrious past as the place where many "nudie" films of the 1950s and 60s were shot, including Nudist Paradise, Naked As Nature Intended, The Nudist Story, Sunswept and Some Like It Cool - directed by an ambitious young Michael Winner.

• Lye Lane, Bricket Wood, St Albans, AL2; 01923 672126



Eden Lake and Carry Ons, Buckinghamshire

Eden Lake (2008) is a grisly horror film with a heavily ironic title: what appears to be a forest idyll perfect for a romantic mini-break is actually a lawless deathtrap overrun by homicidal chavs, plus dogs and even more vicious parents. The location was Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire - a popular choice for film-makers on account of its ancient foliage and proximity to Pinewood studios. Almost every period rural flick has wheeled its dolly through these trees, including Robin Hood, King Arthur, First Knight, Wind in the Willows, The Company of Wolves, Circle of Friends and no less than four Carry On films. CS

The Ladykillers, Shaun of the Dead and Somers Town, King's Cross, London

Avoid the Harry Potter fans posing by the luggage trolley wedged in the wall at "platform 9½" inside King's Cross station, and head instead up York Way and into the canal-and-skips hinterland that used to be the streets immortalised in Ealing comedy The Ladykillers. Bits and bobs remain: the gas works, that railway signal over Copenhagen Street where Alec Guinness meets his maker. The Goods Yard, off York Way, opposite Copenhagen Street, was where Shaun of the Dead's zombie clubbers went to The Cross nightclub, which has since closed. Walk on, via Cheney Road (as seen in Nuns on the Run and Chaplin), round the back of Camley Street nature reserve (where Jude Law and Robin Penn Wright have a row in Anthony Minghella's Breaking and Entering) and from there into Somers Town, the location of the Shane Meadows film of the same name. The launderette where the boys hang out, as well as the Golden Tulip cafe where they nurse their crushes on a French waitress, are both real, and both located on the fringes of Phoenix Court, a low-rise council estate on Purchese Street.CS

Derek Jarman's garden, Kent

It's hard to stand out on Dungeness peninsula, in a landscape where all is strange, windswept, and in which the nuclear power station looms in the background. But somehow the tiny cottage and garden of the film-maker Derek Jarman, whose films included Caravaggio, The Last of England and The Garden, and who died in 1994, does just that. It is still looked after and preserved in the same form: the same yellow woodwork against the dark timbers of the house, the driftwood and seaweed that seem to unite the garden with the nearby sea. There's no formal way of visiting, and it's too small for that anyway: you just have to gawp from the road and hope that no one is in that day.

• Prospect Cottage, Dungeness Road, Romney Marsh, TN29 Bibi van der Zee

Last Orders, Margate

Increasingly a byword for faded seaside grandeur, bloody-nosed immigrant conflict and seedy backstreet sex, this Thanet town has seen so little investment over recent decades that a daytrip there is indeed like stepping into a scarily authentic film set. The elderly fairground attraction, Dreamland, is now out of action, but you can gaze at the rotting big dipper, and at the crumbling tower block from Pawel Pawlikowski's political asylum romance Last Resort that rises up behind the park. Or else you can trot down the prom where Bob Hoskins scatters Michael Caine's ashes in the last scene of Last Orders. CS

Golden Eye, London

The mausoleum at Brompton Cemetery on London's Fulham Road regularly does a decent close-focus impersonation of Cambridge's sandstone spires. The gravestones are quite something, too - as seen in Eastern Promises, Golden Eye, Guy Ritchie's new Sherlock Holmes film, The Wings of the Dove and Stormbreaker. CS

I Know Where I'm Going!, Mull

Powell and Pressburger's 1945 masterpiece features Wendy Hiller as a headstrong London gal who finds herself stranded on a remote Scottish island and won over by Roger Livesy's secretly-minted laird. But devotees need to be brave to follow in her footsteps: it was filmed largely on the most dangerous and windswept outcrops of Mull, though the mysterious Corryvreckan Whirlpool - one of the largest of its kind on the planet and the most dangerous stretch of water around Britain - lies between Jura and Scarba. From there it's a short, if queasy, boat ride to Barra, where they shot Whisky Galore. CS

Howard's End, south-east England

As well as being a five-star, quintessentially English piece of cinema, Howard's End showcases some of London's best architecture, including Admiralty Arch, Chiswick Mall, Royal Holloway College in Egham, the Baltic Exchange, Wigmore Hall and Borough market, as well as a clutch of bucolic rural retreats in Worcestershire and Oxfordshire. Set piece must-sees are Fortnum & Mason's, on Piccadilly, where Ruth (Vanessa Redgrave) and Margaret (Emma Thompson) do their Christmas shopping, and Simpson's-in-the-Strand, where you can merrily recreate the carvery scene between Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. You can even spend the night at the St James Court Hotel (london.crowneplaza.com) in Westminster, aka the Wilcox's London flat. CS

Trainspotting, Edinburgh

Irvine Welsh's blisteringly bleak portrait of a group of young Edinburgh heroin addicts captured the voice and attitudes of Britain's disaffected, working-class youth. The best way to experience Welsh's colourful Leith landscape is to take the Trainspotting Tour to visit the haunts of Begbie, Renton, Tommy and Sick Boy, exploring the real-life locations of Sick Boy's pub, Central Station and police station, with Tim Bell as your enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide.

• 0131-555 2500


Vivien Devlin

Local Hero, Banffshire

Pennan is home of the phone box made famous in the film Local Hero in 1983. The film features a scene in which Burt Lancaster calls the phone box, which triggered a real-life pilgrimage by people all over the world to the phone box to await his call. The phone box is now a listed building and there were (now defunct) plans in 2006 for it to be the subject of a world record for squeezing the most people inside.

• Pennan harbourside to the right of the car park


Gavin Bell