BTM Top 10……Filming Location Trips For 2013

Having already covered most of the filming locations I ever wanted to do, its getting harder and harder to add to the pile, so this list is not ’13 Filming Location Trips For 2013′ but instead will be known as a BTM Top…… list instead.

Thank god these end-of-year entries is titled ‘Filming Location Trips’ as that means I can include music video locations as well as film ones to bulk out the list a bit!! What chance it being just a BTM Top……5 list next year!!

This years list may lack the oomph of past years but there were still a few notable nuggets covered in the last 12 months. Click on the links below to see more.

1. Skyfall (Click here)

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2. Mission: Impossible III (Click here)

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3. Empire Of The Sun (Click here)

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4. The Toxic Avenger Part II (Click here)

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5. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Click here)

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6. Quantum Of Solace (Click here)

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7. The Wolverine (Click here)

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8. Lost In Translation (Click here)

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9. Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness (Click here)

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10. Muse – Panic Station (Click here)

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Other 2013 locations for the films listed below can be found here

Moonraker; The Green Zone; Love Actually; Basic Instinct 2; The Bourne Ultimatum; The Tailor of Panama and Kaiser Chiefs ‘Man On Mars’.


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


Gunkanjima In Skyfall: Real Or Fake?

In the 2012 movie ‘Skyfall’, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is seen cruising on a boat (below) with the exotic-looking Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) to an abandoned island. Bond is taken prisoner by the crew and delivered to the antagonist Raoul Silva, who is a former MI6 officer that has turned to cyberterrorism having orchestrated the attacks on MI6. We’re led to believe this island is off the coast of Macau but in reality it is actually in the south-west of Japan. Or is it?

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Gunkanjima (formerly known as Hashima) is a small island located about 20 kilometers from Nagasaki Port which used to serve as a coal mine. The island is only 480m long and 150m wide but with 5000 residents once living there it had the worlds highest population density which meant that in typical Japanese fashion that every piece of land was built up and so it came to resemble a massive battleship hence the nickname “Gunkanjima” which  translates as battleship island.

Half of the island was for the workings of the mine. The other was devoted to residential space, schools, restaurants, shops, a public bath and a hospital which the workers and their families called home. However, in April 1974 the mine was closed and these residents had to leave Gunkanjima, abandoning the island with all its buildings.

Since then, severe weather conditions such as typhoons have caused the buildings to deteriorate and as these structures started to erode away and collapse, Gunkanjima was closed to the public, and for many years could only be seen from sightseeing cruises that circled the island.

In the last few years though the place has been open to the public. So you can now walk in the footsteps of James Bond and experience the eerie and haunting atmosphere of the place. Well, not quite.

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First of all, sightseeing boats do actually take you on a 4000 yen round trip from Nagasaki Port to the island and yes you do get to actually go onto the land and snap away with your camera but sadly its just from a few restricted viewpoints.

Secondly, the Gunkanjima scenes in the 23rd Bond film were in reality shot back at the famous Pinewood Studios which has been the home of so many 007 films. As for the long shots seen from the boat they were for real though I suspect Daniel Craig and co never went anywhere this tiny deserted outcrop. One assumes the scene with him and Sévérine on the boat was shot elsewhere and a bit of movie magic was used to blend the Gunkanjima long shots with those that you see below which were grabbed from this great ‘Behind the Scenes’ video on YouTube.

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Skyfall‘ director Sam Mendes said that this location was created using a hybrid of a set and computer-generated images.

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Whilst making The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo‘ (2011) in Sweden, Daniel Craig met film-maker Thomas Nordanstad, who produced a short documentary in 2002 called ‘Hashima‘, and took extensive notes about the infamous ‘dead city’ during that meeting. This supposedly played a part in the production team choosing to include the Hashima model.

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So, do I still have an interest in visiting this island despite it not actually being used in ‘Skyfall‘? Hell yeah! I saw some amazing photos and stories about this place a couple of years back on some ‘haikyo’ (abandoned ruins) websites which made me want to visit it. It’s inclusion in last years Bond movie, though not real, has actually whetted my appetite for getting myself over to Nagasaki to see that city and its attractions and whilst I’m there  a visit to Gunkanjima and its window into a world that once was would be a must.

TF Film Review: Skyfall (2012)

All good things come to those who wait is a very apt phrase given its been four years since ‘Quantum Of Solace‘ not to mention the extra 5 week wait for us movie fans in Japan. There has been a lot of hype surrounding the release of ‘Skyfall‘ which heightened by the fact that its also 50 years since the first Bond film, ‘Dr No‘ was released. That shouldn’t affect one’s judgement of this third film to star Daniel Craig in the secret agent role. However, I have to say that this isn’t just a great Bond film but it is indeed a fantastic film in itself.

First things first though, and one disappointment at the outset is that there is still no traditional gun barrel opener. The pre-titles Turkish scenes in Istanbul and Adana were thrilling and left me short of breath as the opening titles kicked in. Adele’s lovely theme tune is, unlike the last couple (which I do actually like), one where you can actually sing the title of the film.

I was pretty much spoiler free going into this film (albeit not quite to the extent of that of ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ back in the Summer) other than knowing that it had something to do with M’s past coming back to haunt her. Judi Dench’s character comes out from the background of past films to basically co-star alongside Daniel Craig. Together in this I think were both absolutely brilliant with the latter wrestling with both his emotions and his physical and psychological attributes which have served him so well.

Unlike ‘Quantum of Solace‘ the plot of ‘Skyfall‘ is actually understandable and very topical of modern times with its storyline but there are also a few other bits to keep us fans really happy such as the introduction (re-inroduction?) of Q, the backstory on Moneypenny, some of Bond’s family history and the return of the Aston Martin DB5 car (from 1964′s ‘Goldfinger’) which doesn’t make too much sense but it’s a nice nod to the past.

As ever there was a good range of locations taking in the aforementioned Turkey as well as China, England, Scotland and even Japan with Hashima in Nagasaki a.k.a. Gunkanjima (Battleship island) kind of being used as the ‘Dead City’ island retreat of antagonist Silva (Javier Bardem) although in the film it’s off the coast of Macau. The long shots are real but sadly this was all filmed on set at Pinewood Studios. Nevertheless, I’d still love to visit this island one day.

I really did love seeing the scenery from back home of London and the Scottish Highlands or maybe I’m just a misty-eyed Brit living abroad! It was also nice to see BBC News’ Huw Edwards as well as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer perform their cameo news anchor duties within the film.

The name Skyfall refers to Bonds family estate and childhood home in Scotland (filmed in reality in Surrey) where he retreats to with M leaving a trail behind so that Silva can find them and thus turn the tables as they had always been one step behind him up until then. Along with the innkeeper they then basically defend from within with limited resources akin to that of ‘The A-Team‘ or even ‘Home Alone‘! The ending took me by surprise and I was so thankful that I didn’t know what was going to happen beforehand. It is a long film but its 142 minute entirety thankfully passed me by with relative ease.

I’m now just relieved that I can finally read other reviews, listen to a backlog of 007 related podcasts and look into adding to my already substantial list of Bond movie locations visited. Bring on the next installment.

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Tokyo Fox Rating 9/10