London Filming Locations: Skyfall (2012)

This triumphant return to form sees Bond go back to his roots with some beautiful scenery including the Scottish Highlands and lots of London scenes which were very satisfying for this misty-eyed Brit living abroad! Before all that though, ‘Skyfall‘ starts off with Bond (Daniel Craig) and Eve (Naomie Harris) in Istanbul on the hunt for a stolen hard drive in a city which also appeared in two other 007 films; ‘From Russia With Love‘ (1963) and ‘The World Is Not Enough‘ (1999). Their pursuit of the assailant takes them through Eminonou Square and the Grand Bazaar (below) with the latter also featuring in the critically acclaimed ‘Argo‘ and the critically panned ‘Taken 2‘ last year. The chase continues on 500 miles south-east to Adana where the spectacular Varda Bridge sees Bond involved in a bout of fisticuffs on top of the moving train before M (Judi Dench) orders Eve to take the shot which results in him supposedly plummeting to his death 90 metres below.

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M is driven to a meeting with Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) at Willis Faber on 10 Trinity Square (below left) near the Tower of London. Only a limited part of the building is seen on screen but more of the building can be seen in ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider‘ (2000). On her return to MI6 at 85 Albert Embankment (below right) M witnesses it blowing up. This building was also used in ‘The World Is Not Enough‘.

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Bond is alive and waiting for M at her home in Knightsbridge (below) which was actually the home of 007 composer John Barry who passed away a year prior to the films release. The address is 82 Cadogan Square and Sloane Square is just about the closest Underground station.

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Not too far from here on 22 Ebury Street is a house which is worth a little detour if you’re in the area and it is a very important one for Bond fans. A little blue plaque on the buildings exterior tells us that it was the house of the man who created 007; Ian Fleming.

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Bond is driven across the River Thames with the London Eye in the background. The car continues onto the secret MI6 underground facility which is actually Smithfield Car Park opposite the meat market.

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Deemed to be fit again, Bond makes his way to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square where he meets up with the new Q (Ben Whishaw) in front of The Fighting Temeraire by JMW Turner. Of course photography is not permitted inside but one can always try and take a sneaky one with the worst usually being that you’ll be told off by one of the guards.

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It’s Shanghai next for 007 and though the aerial shots are real the rooftop pool scene was actually filmed in London in Canary Wharf at the Virgin Active Classic Health Club.

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Still in ‘Shanghai’ Bond follows hitman Patrice into a high-rise building but yet again its London and the Broadgate Tower at 201 Bishopsgate although its the entrance on Primrose Street which is seen.

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The real Gunkanjima (formally known as Hashima) is used for the distant shots but the rest was all filmed on a set built back at Pinewood. Full details about this location, its history, how it was faked and how to get there can be read here.

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Silva is captured and brought back to the UK but he soon manages to escape into the London Underground with Bond in pursuit of him between Temple and Embankment stations on the District and Circle Lines. There are only brief shots of those stations before Bond finally emerges at Westminster station and rushes to save ‘M’.

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Bond’s journey takes him along Whitehall where he eventually ends up back at Trinity Square not that this is referenced. We are made to believe that this place, which is a couple of miles eastwards, is one of a handful of government buildings in the area.

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Bond and M flee the carnage at the public enquiry and change cars at Parkside Industrial Estate on Arklow Road in Deptford. It probably doesn’t make too much sense that one of the garages there is home to the Aston Martin DB5 car from 1964′s ‘Goldfinger’ but it’s a nice nod to the past.

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Bond decides to take M to Scotland to draw the villain Silva out into the open and though it is the real Highlands of Glencoe, the “Skyfall” childhood home of Bond was a set built on Hankley Common in Surrey which has also been used in ‘The World Is Not Enough‘ and ‘Die Another Day‘ (2002).

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Back in London, Bond and Eve appear on top of the Department of Energy and Climate change at 55 Whitehall and the Old War Office building alongside it played the part of MI6 in ‘Octopussy‘ (1983), ‘A View To A Kill‘ (1985) and ‘License To Kill‘ (1989). Not surprisingly, its not possible for the general public to go up on the roof which is a shame as that would be one hell of a shot to recapture! Instead, one has to just settle for seeing the building from street level only.

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See other James Bond filming locations by clicking on the places below:

Tokyo        London        Prague        Venice        Como        Istanbul        Las Vegas        Phuket        Vienna        Hong Kong        New York        Panama


Empire Of The Sun Shanghai Filming Locations

Once I’d booked the trip to Shanghai a couple of months back I started to take a much closer look at movies filmed in Shanghai and was quite surprised to find that very few films were actually shot in the Chinese city. One that was though was Steven Speilberg’s 1987 epic ‘Empire Of The Sun‘ which featured Christian Bale a long, long time before he became the Dark Knight of Gotham City in the Batman flicks.

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The early scenes of the movie were shot in Shanghai with a brief glimpse across the Huangpu River of the famous Peace Hotel next to the Bank of China building appearing 2 minutes into the film to the tune of the boys choir. This hotel was once the most luxurious hotel in the Far East and its lobby is supposedly still a great example of Art Deco interior. It stands on the Bund at 20 Nanjing Donglu and made an impression on me for its pyramid roof as well as old-style look which is a great reminder of Shanghai’s past.

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Seconds later, as the sound of the choir continues, we see St. Ignatius Cathedral (also referred to as Xujiahui Cathedral) on Puxi Road in Xujiahui in the Xuhui District. This is where viewers first see a very youthful Christian Bale hitting the high notes as Jamie “Jim” Graham who is a young boy living in a wealthy British family in Shanghai. I wanted to visit this church but a mixture of being short on time and being unable to access the internet meant I was sadly unable to get the match-up photos I craved. For the record the nearest station is Xujiahui Metro station on Lines 1 and 8 and as I’m researching this after my trip I now realise how close I actually went to this area of the city! Oh well…

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The colonial home of Jim and his family was actually filmed in the city’s English settlement with the interiors shot back in Britain in a bungalow at Sunningdale in Berkshire. The family are on their way to a fancy dress party 10 minutes into the film where the enormous crowd scenes of mass tension and unrest on the Bund were somehow coordinated by Speilberg. The former Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (which I never knew until this trip was the acronym HSBC despite banking with them for most of my life!) building features prominently and today holds the Pudong Development Bank and some offices. The view across the river with the Oriental Pearl Tower in the background (lower right) doesn’t feature in the film but shows the view in the opposite direction.

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The bridge seen on 12 minutes is the Waibaidu Bridge (Garden Bridge) which is adjacent to the Bund and connects the Huangpu and Hongkou districts. The present bridge (below right) opened on 20th January in 1908 and was just round the corner from my hotel.

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Jim later signals to the Japanese Zero aircrafts flying above and some 25 years later the shot is pretty much identical which is always a delight for movie location geeks like myself. The building on the right is the aforementioned Peace Hotel and the one on the left is the Peace Palace Hotel which is also commonly known as the Peace Hotel South. Its location is 23 Nanjing Donglu (Nanjing Road).

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The rest of the film was made in Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, Knutsford in Cheshire and Trebujena in Cadiz, Andalucia (Spain) was the setting of the prison camp set.