Whilst back in England this month we took a day trip to Stamford one day and our final stop was Burghley house which has been portrayed on screen a few times. As well as featuring in the BBC TV adaptation of ‘Middlemarch‘ (1994) it has also starred in films like ‘Pride & Prejudice‘ (2005) and ‘The Da Vinci Code‘ (2006) with the latter being my main reason of interest for visiting. The interior of ‘Castel Gandolfo’ as well as Saunière’s retreat in the flashback scenes were filmed at this stately home. In the former it was used as ‘Rosings’; the palatial home of Lady Catherine de Bourg played by the legendary Dame Judi Dench. England’s greatest Elizabethan house is a hefty £12.70 to get into but its free to wander the vast area outside which is exactly what we did.
It’s fair to say I’ve been to quite a few filming locations over the last five years and as rewarding as they have all been it aint half nice to recognise places you’ve been to when watching an unseen movie. I saw ‘Angels & Demons‘ (2009) recently and was happy to see the story centred around places I’ve already visited. To be fair though, they are pretty famous sights in southern Italy but they certainly helped me get through the film. I was perhaps a little harsh in my review of ‘The Da Vinci Code‘ back in 2006 which in desperate search of a pun I called “a code of cr*p“. Much like that film I was still able to enjoy the fast paced intensity and drama of the action scenes and chases in ‘Angels & Demons’ not that I had much idea what was actually going on! Thankfully there’s Wikipedia for that!
Following the sudden death of the Pope the Roman Catholic Church mourns his death and Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor) takes temporary helm at the Vatican. The marble staircase seen in the screenshot below left was obviously not the real one but that of Caserta Palace, just north of Naples, which also played the same part in ‘Mission Impossible III‘ (2006). It is probably more famous as being Queen Amidala’s Theed Palace on Naboo in ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace‘ (1999).
Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summoned to save the day and deduces that the four men likely to be elected Pope will all be killed at locations relating to the four elements – earth, air, fire and water – but before all that the pathway leads to the Pantheon on the Pizza della Rotonda. This Roman Catholic church possesses the very impressive concrete dome which is the largest unreinforced one in the world.
The ‘earth’ element takes Langdon to the Piazza del Popollo where he enters Santa Maria del Popollo and eventually finds the first cardinal with a mouthful of soil in the crypt of this church. Not quite the same place in my picture below but near enough as the place where I could erm, be found with a mouthful of pizza was just a stones throw away from that church!
The ‘air’ element is at The Vatican City in St Peter’s Basilica. The screenshots below are from the latter part of the movie and not exactly clear as they were nighttime scenes.
‘Fire’ is represented by the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria where the third cardinal is burned to death. Then its on to ‘water’ at the beautifully picturesque Piazza Navona for one of the most dramatic scenes where the cardinal is dumped into the Fountain of the Four Rivers.
Having saved the cardinal with the help of some passers-by Langdon is informed by one of them that the illuminati’s lair is Castel Sant’Angelo on the Tiber’s west bank. The barge dance scene in ‘Roman Holiday‘ (1953) took place below the bridge in front of this castle.
BONUS: Temple Church on Inner Temple Lane in London is where Langdon and Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou of ‘Amelie’ fame) search for the tomb of a knight in ‘The Da Vinci Code‘ (2006) movie which came first although the book by Dan Brown was published after ‘Angels & Demons‘.