Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Architectural Film Locations

The correlation between architecture and films has been around for decades and some locations are so instantly recognisable by fans that they are forever associated with the movie that they were featured in.

For example, the most famous scene of the 1978 film adaptation of The Thirty Nine Steps will be remembered by many film buffs for the epic scene where Richard Hannay is left hanging from the clock face of Big Ben in London, the thirty nine steps in this instance being a reference to the number of steps in the clock tower.

More recently, The Louvre in Paris was used extensively in The Da Vinci Code featuring Tom Hanks, as the museum was an integral part of the storyline. Permission was granted to film inside and outside the building, including the glass pyramid and surrounding Louvre Palace.

The 1971 version of Get Carter with Michael Caine was filmed on location in the north east of England, taking advantage of the imposing architecture of Newcastle city centre and the post modern concrete structures of Gateshead, particularly the iconic multi story car park which was filmed in all its urban glory without any changes being made to the real streets and buildings.

In complete contrast, the entire seafront, promenade and cinema at Redcar in Cleveland were transformed from a busy modern day seaside town into an impressive likeness of war torn Dunkirk for the Oscar winning movie Atonement. Hundreds of local residents turned out each day of the shoot to witness the unique re-enactment of this historic event and many were actually hired as extras for the crowd scenes.

Vampire films have risen in popularity over the last few years and the magnificent gothic buildings of Prague provided the perfect backdrop for movies such as Van Helsing and Blade II. Film directors favour the Czech Republic capital city as a shooting location for a variety of genres because the array of amazing architecture lends itself beautifully to authentic looking scenes that could be set in the past or present.

Visiting former movie locations around the world is an increasingly popular hobby as there are plenty of online resources and even downloadable location maps enabling you to find out exactly where your favourite movie scenes were shot. It is interesting to see what the original buildings look like when compared to the finished scene and how much they have been changed, or in some cases, used exactly as they are.

Sometimes a director will allow people to watch filming from behind a designated cordon when using buildings on location that are difficult to isolate, but production companies place a strict ban on the general public taking photographs or video footage during filming.

Movie posters and postcards are readily available to purchase on a film`s release and are a great way of comparing an area before and after shooting. These not only make great collectable items of movie memorabilia, but are a perfect memento for reference when you have visited a film location.