Being a movie buff, I tend to visit movie locations on my travels. As I got back from Marseille, where I followed in the footsteps of French Connection and Love Actually, I thought of putting together a list with some of my favorite visits during the years.
Left images are from the actual films and to the right are my visits to the spots.
Featured: Lost in Translation, French Connection, Lord of the Rings, Highlander, Talented Mr Ripley, Mission Impossible, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Interview with the Vampire, The Beach, Rendition, Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, La Dolce Vita, Moulin Rouge.
Lost in Translation (2003)
Ah yes, here we go. Lost in Translation is quite special to me for several reasons and the bar at 52nd floor of Park Hyatt is the most well-known location in the film. Left picture is Bill Murray as Bob Harris in 2003 and the right is the same spot in 2008.
One of my favorite scenes from Lost in Translation is when Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) goes on a lonely trip from Tokyo to Kyoto by Shinkansen. Urban alienation has never been sweeter.
During the first scene we see Bob (Bill Murray) stare with sleepy eyes as his taxi rolls by the neon billboards of eastern Shinjuku.
French Connection (1971)
French Connection from 1971 is a gritty police drama featuring Gene Hackman. The left scene was shot 40 years ago, where an unnamed character is making his way home through the stairs of Le Panier, the oldest part of Marseille.
Charnier (Fernando Rey) and Devereaux (Frédéric de Pasquale) made their sinister plans at Chateau d’If, a castle situated on an island outside Marseille. It was also the setting for Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo.
Lord of the Rings (2001)
Mount Victoria in capital Wellington was the place where Elijah Wood (Frodo) and the Hobbits first encountered the Nazgul in the Shire. It was the site for the very first shooting of the trilogy, catching the press off guard. The forest area was also used for the scenes at Weathertop, Dunharrow, Hobbiton Woods and Outer Shire. Read more about Lord of the Rings locations in New Zealand.
The volcano Mount Ngauruhoe on the north island of New Zealand was used as Mount Doom in Mordor, but since the local population didn’t allow filming there for religious reasons the crew had to make a digital replica of it.
The striking Eilean Donan Castle was used as the home of Clan MacLeod and its head Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), featuring a lot in the beginning of the movie. But if you want to visit it, note that even though the village is described as Glenfinnan, the Eilean Donan Castle is actually located about 45 kilometers north of Glenfinnan.
The immortals Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) and Sunda Kastagir (Hugh Quarshie) met at Bow Bridge way back in the eighties, in the New York scenes from Highlander.
Talented Mr Ripley (1999)
Talented Mr Ripley is full of amazing Italian scenery. In Rome Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) went for a walk in the sunset to explore the Roman ruins.
Freddie Miles (Philip Seymour Hoffman) made an eye-catching entrance in the film, as he drives his car straight into Piazza Navone to interrupt the dinner that Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is having with Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law).
Arriving later in Venice, Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) and Jack Davenport (Peter Smith-Kingsley) walk across Piazza San Marco with the St. Mark’s Basilica in the background.
Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) says farewell to Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Herbert Greenleaf (James Rebhorn) on the pier opposite Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.
Bonus location! Caffè Latino was the place of the jazz club scene, where Matt Damon and Jude law sang “Tu Vuò Fa’ L’Americano” at the stage. Unfortunately the bar was closed, better luck next time.
Mission Impossible (1996)
Tom Cruise and Kristin Scott Thomas escape from the cellar.
This is the riverside alley next to Lichtenstein Palace, featured prominently in the beginning of the film where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) had all sorts of problems with his mission.
The wooden fence in the same riverside alley, where the bad guy was hiding and Tom Cruise later escapes from the police arriving by boat.
Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) is approaching the safehouse, door on the left. The location can be found quite close to the eastern part of Charles Bridge.
Tom Cruise later uses a different route on his way back to the safe house, but normally the gate leading down to the river docks is locked.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)
The picturesque Castle Stalker was used as Castle Aaargh and the place for the final confrontation with the insulting French.
The castle Doune Castle was used for a lot of scenes. This is where John Cleese insulted King Arthur in a French accent and later goes on a killing spree at a wedding. Also the site of the wooden rabbit trick and “fetchez la vache”, as well as home to the very friendly girls of Castle Anthrax.
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
This was the home of Louis in the movie Interview With The Vampire, based on the book by Anne Rice. It took days for production crew to put moss on every branch of the trees and paint the house in an eerie green color. The owners were quite irritated as Brad Pitt was kicking the beautiful cypress front door over 25 times until he got it right. The house was also used for the opening scene of Gone With The Wind in 1939.
The Beach (2000)
While the book The Beach by Alex Garland may be a fan favorite for backpackers, the film is not nearly there, but the first half is quite good at invoking the ups and downs of mass tourism in Thailand. The place where the movie The Beach featuring Leonardo DiCaprio was shot can be quite crowded these days, but the water provides fine snorkeling and the surrounding limestone cliffs are nothing short of spectacular. However, Alex Garland’s book was actually inspired by the lagoon El Nido at island Palawan in the Philippines, and the book was also written there according to the legend.
Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) seeks comfort in the bottle while overlooking the big square Djemaa el Fna from a balcony. One year later, I managed to find a spot at that balcony.
Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001)
Bar des Deux Moulins is the infamous bar in Montmartre where Audrey Tautou (Amélie) and the main characters worked. It is a normal café, even though there are posters from the movie reminding us of its past.
After escorting the blind man across the street, Amélie leaves him at the metro station Lamarck-Caulaincourt and runs up the stairs.
Of course Amélie can be seen all over Paris, such as walking over the romantic bridge Pont des Arts.
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) and Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) goes for the infamous late night stroll through the waters of Fontana di Trevi. Even though it was shot at night, Anita endured the cold for hours in her wet dress. But Marcello allegedly wore a wetsuit and had an entire bottle of vodka before the take, making him drunk during the shooting.
Moulin Rouge (2001)
Baz Luhrmann’s vibrant Moulin Rouge is full of fairy-tale scenes of “fin de siècle”-style Paris. I like the view from the room of Christian (Ewan McGregor), even though it’s of course done with a green screen. All of the scenes were done on soundstages in Sydney. And no, there is no elephant in there – I’ve checked.
- Movie locations around the world part 2
- Movie locations around the world part 3
- Movie locations around the world part 4
- Movie locations around the world part 5
- Movie locations around the world part 6
- Movie locations around the world part 7
- Movie locations around the world part 8
- Welcome to King’s Landing
- Marseille 40 years later
- Lord of the Rings locations in New Zealand
- The magic of green screen