London Filming Locations: GoldenEye (1995)

After a six year hiatus the James Bond franchise returned in 1995 with Irish actor Pierce Brosnan at the helm as the series was modernised a bit in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War and this ended up providing background for the plot.

Following opening scenes in Switzerland (filling in for the USSR) and Monaco, the capital of England appears as we see the debut of the MI6 building, Vauxhall Cross (below) at 85 Albert Embankment. It would go on to appear in ‘The World Is Not Enough‘ (1999), ‘Die Another Day‘ (2002) and ‘Skyfall‘ (2012) and just so you know that it really is London, a red double decker passes by in the foreground on 36 minutes.

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Over the decades, many world locations have been faked in Bond films and ‘GoldenEye‘ is no exception. Sure, there are a few shots of the real St Petersburg but much of it was shot in the UK in the nations capital. Somerset House (below) at The Strand on 55 minutes doubled up as Russia’s second largest city whereas in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies‘ (1997) the courtyard was seen as 007 is driven to the MI6 HQ. This place is a short distance from Temple tube station and also appears as scenery footage at the start of ‘Love Actually‘ (2003).

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Other “Russian” locations in London to feature include Brompton Cemetry (below) on 58 minutes which is the exterior of the St Petersburg church where Natalya meets Boris by chance. This cemetery can also be seen in the Rowan Atkinson Bond spoof ‘Johnny English‘ (2003) and in ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation‘ (2015).

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The interior is St Sofia’s Cathedral (below) which funnily enough is on Moscow Road near Bayswater Station.

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The Langham Hilton (below) at Portland Place is portrayed as ‘Grand Hotel Europe’ and is seen briefly on 63 minutes.

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One final “Russian” location is Drapers’ Hall (below) on Throgmorton Street near Bank station. It is the St Petersburg council chamber where a General discovers that Natalya has survived the detonation. I visited here on two occasions with the first one being hindered slightly by a lot of visible scaffolding which meant I had to zoom in close to cut it out.

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A couple of years after ‘GoldenEye‘ and this place, which isn’t open to the public, became Russia again in ‘The Saint‘ (1997) starring Val Kilmer.

For other London filming locations click on the links below:

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace    Trainspotting    Mission: Impossible    Lara Croft Tomb Raider    The Bourne Ultimatum   Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone   James Bond    About A Boy    Quadrophenia    Bridget Jones’s Diary    Goodnight Sweetheart    Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels    Basic Instinct 2    Batman Begins/The Dark Knight    The Italian Job    Snatch    Rom-Com Special    Skyfall    Notting Hill    The World Is Not Enough     Paddington    Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Re-Visited)    Entrapment    Sliding Doors    Eyes Wide Shut     Four Weddings & A Funeral   Die Another Day

London Filming Locations: Die Another Day (2002)

This much derided 007 movie marked the 40th anniversary of the franchise and includes references to each of the 19 Bond films which preceded it. Having watched it again for this feature I don’t actually mind it as much as I previously thought. Sure there are some ridiculous gimmicks and too much computer imagery but the first half is pretty good. Continue reading

London Filming Locations: Four Weddings & A Funeral (1994)

When this Richard Curtis-written film came out in 1994 I had no interest in seeing it whatsoever as I was really sick of hearing the Wet Wet Wet cover of ‘Love Is All Around‘ which was the soundtrack song that dominated the UK Top 40 chart spending a ridiculous 15 weeks at number one. Continue reading

London Filming Locations: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Movie locations being faked has been a bit of a fascination for me these last few years. Many different places have been used to replicate the likes of AfghanistanMyanmar andVietnam but who would’ve thought that this Stanley Kubrick film did the same trick. Whilst its no surprise that some of those aforementioned far-flung places have been faked it’s quite rare to see New York city filmed elsewhere but that is what happened in ‘Eyes Wide Shut‘ as Kubrick’s fear of flying meant it was predominantly shot in London. Continue reading

London Filming Locations: Sliding Doors (1999)

Whilst back in England recently I watched this rom-com with Gwyneth Paltrow. Well, obviously not with her but I did view this 92 minute film and recognised many of the locations from the nations capital so when I travelled down to London a few days later I set about finding some of the locations. Continue reading

London Filming Locations: Entrapment (1999)

This Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones heist movie was most memorably set in Malaysia but the majority of the locations were shot in Britain with Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull in Scotland very prominent. As for London, a few places feature in the opening 20 minutes. Continue reading

Star Wars Traveller – Naboo Revisited (a.k.a. Watford, UK)

Four years ago I visited Whippendell Wood in Watford which was used in ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace‘ to portray the forest of Naboo. Back then I was fairly satisfied with my visit but heavy snow in the area meant that it looked more like the remote ice planet of Hoth! As a result, I was keen to return one day and see it in its more normal setting. However, there was still a light frost on the ground but with a bit of Winter sunshine there was actually some greenery to be seen. Continue reading

London Filming Locations: Paddington (2014)

Peru is a country that has long fascinated me and is one I’d love to visit. I know it of course for the world wonder that is Machu Picchu, ex-Leicester player Nobby Solano (13 appearances!), Deportivo Wanka football club but most famously it’s the original home of Paddington Bear. A lot of the British population have a huge affection for this fictional bear due to Michael Bond’s books and the 1975 TV series and thankfully this 2014 movie didn’t disappoint with this warm and witty story. Continue reading

Top 10……Filming Location Trips For 2014

Another year has passed and despite my reservations about the future of such ‘top 10……filming locations’ this time last year, I have managed to do enough locations to warrant another list. It’s quite 007-centric and has in the main included just topping up pre-existing entries. Here then, in no particular order, is the Top 10……filming location trips for 2014…

1) Entrapment, 1999 (Click here)

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2) The Hangover Part II, 2011 (Click here)

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3) The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974 (Click here)

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4) Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997 (Click here)

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5) The Wolverine, 2013 (Click here)

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6) Godzilla, 1954 (Click here)

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7) Notting Hill, 1999 (Click here)

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8) The World Is Not Enough, 1999 (Click here)

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9) Skyfall, 2012 (Click here)

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10) Quantum Of Solace, 2008 (Click here)

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For the best filming locations for other years please click on the links below:

2009     2010     2011     2012     2013

Top 10……Films Set Around Christmas!

It’s Christmas time and holiday cheer is very much on the horizon which often involves people watching classic festive films like ‘Scrooge‘, ‘A Christmas Carol‘, ‘Santa Clause: The Movie‘, erm ‘Jingle All The Way‘ or many of the special TV episodes filmed for this time of the year.

Others like ‘Home Alone‘ (1990), ‘Die Hard‘ (1988), ‘Gremlins‘ (1984) and ‘Lethal Weapon‘ (1987) which are just set during the Christmas season are also popular choices so I have delved into the archives to find some movies (of course ones that I have been to some filming locations of!) with seasonal connections whether it be a major one or a really tenuous link!

So here then, in no particular order, is the TF top 10……

1. In Bruges (2008) – Certainly not the first one that comes to mind when you think of films taking place at Christmas! Two Irish hit-men hide out in Belgium during the holiday season not that it’s at all important to the storyline. The woman at the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel, where they stay, is doing something with the Christmas tree in one scene and their angry boss, Ralph Fiennes, shouts at his wife in front of their tree and kids in another.

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2. Ghostbuster II (1989) – The sequel is set in New York City during the Christmas period and culminates on New Years Eve as a crowd of locals sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. A Christmas tree is visible during at least one scene and I guess one other festive link this has is that it was made (according to some critics!) to sell toys at Christmas time!

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3. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – This Stanley Kubrick-directed erotic thriller is not your traditional Christmas film in any way! It opens at a big Christmas party before  Tom Cruise’s jealous character goes on a sexual odyssey so that he can feel equal to his “cheating” wife. However, not all is straight forward as he soon witnesses a secret sex society and people begin dying. It’s lacking in festive tunes and the common joviality shown by many at that time of the year. Christmas trees can be seen throughout as London doubles up for New York in holiday season.

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4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – In his one and only appearance as James Bond, George Lazenby takes the reins of the double agent in the sixth 007 movie. Part of the film takes place at Grindelwald in Switzerland during the Christmas season snow is all around. Festive connections include a Christmas tree at the Piz Gloria clinic, presents for the ladies and there’s even a Christmas song called “Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown.”

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5. Love Actually (2003) – By far the most festive film in this list as a large group of inter-related people are followed for the five weeks leading up to Christmas, exploring their various love-states. An all-star cast take part in this feel-good film.

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6. About A Boy (2002) – Bachelor Will (Hugh Grant) has no job and doesn’t need to have one as he can just live off the royalties of “Santa’s Super Sleigh”; a Christmas song his father composed in the past. Towards the end of the film we see Will hosting a Christmas gathering at his place with his new extended support system.

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7. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – Thirty-something singleton Bridget is introduced to Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) at her parents’ Christmas party and is not impressed. He’s snooty and wears Christmas jumpers but as we know that eventually changes over time among several pivotal holiday-themed/snow scenes.

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8. The English Patient (1996) – A Hungarian cartographer choosing to maintain the assumption by others that he is an Englishman is badly burned in a plane crash during World War II and relays parts of his past via flashbacks and one of these includes a Christmas party scene where amidst a chorus of Silent Night, Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas) is seduced by Almásy (Ralph Fiennes).

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9. When Harry Met Sally (1989) – Several Christmas and New Year’s-related scenes take place in this romantic comedy which spans over 15 years.

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10. I am Legend (2007) – A viral outbreak occurs on Christmas Eve 2009 in Manhattan, and quickly spreads across the world. The epidemic seemingly begins in the lead up to the Christmas season and festive decorations can be seen throughout the early parts of this Will Smith movie.

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Bonus: The Bourne Identity (2002) – Remember when Bourne and Marie seeked refuge in the French countryside? Well, they go to stay at her stepbrother’s place where Bourne notices the Christmas lights are still on. That sign of recent occupancy tells him that they have to leave before the owners return. It is also snowing throughout most of the film which is usually a good indication that it’s the holiday season.