In honor of awards seasons, we’ve selected our favorite movie locations – destinations with more than a touch of tinsel.
London’s evocative cityscape with its towering palaces, grand Georgian squares and sprawling, modern housing estates has played its part many times, from the earliest days of cinema. Its long and storied history means it can “act” whether films are set in Tudor, Victorian, Edwardian or Second World War eras. It also does a nice line in dystopian futures (A Clockwork Orange and V for Vendetta for example). Landmarks such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus are instantly recognizable, providing visiting film buffs with plenty of photo ops. Search and compare cheap flights to England.
The Tabernas Desert, Europe’s only desert, has doubled as the American Wild West several times. Situated to the north of Almeria, between the Filabres and Alhamilla mountain ranges, Sergio Leone used this arid setting for his spaghetti westerns (A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly). Before him, David Lean used it for parts of Lawrence of Arabia, his 1962 multiple-Oscar winner, and Steven Spielberg went there with Harrison Ford to film bits of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989. Search and compare cheap flights to Spain.
New York, USA
A character (almost) in hundreds and hundreds of films, this glittering city is another instantly recognizable star of the silver screen. Nobody has eulogized New York like Woody Allen (Manhattan, Bullets Over Broadway, Annie Hall, New York Stories, Radio Days), but the city has been instrumental to the dreams of all who have pitched up there – the immigrants (In America, The Terminal, Gangs of New York), gangs vying for power (Donnie Brasco, Mean Streets, Once Upon a Time in America) and young women (such as Holly Golightly and Carrie Bradshaw) who have stars in their eyes. Search and compare cheap flights to New York.
The Hollywood of the North offers a plethora of backdrops – urban, suburban, forested, mountainous, beach – and has been the background for dozens of films such as Legends of the Fall (1994), First Blood (1984), Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) and the Night at the Museum films. BC’s super natural beauty also make it a perfect setting for films with a touch of the supernatural so it’s no surprise that parts of The Twilight Saga were filmed there too. Search and compare cheap flights to Vancouver.
Prague, Czech Republic
Hungary may have stolen its crown over recent years but Prague, stately and atmospheric, has been the lot for many blockbusters. When the makers of Casino Royale needed a suitably stunning location for 007, they chose the Czech capital. XXX, Stalingrad, Van Helsing, Oliver Twist and Mission: Impossible were also shot there. Arguably, Prague’s silver age began with Milos Forman and Saul Zaentz’s Amadeus (1984) where, in a neat symmetry, they shot some scenes in the Estates Theatre where Mozart conducted the world premiere of his opera Don Giovanni in 1787. Search and compare cheap flights to Czech Republic.
An early Bond film (The Man with the Golden Gun) showcased the beauty of Thailand, specifically the islands with those green-clad rocks that rise so magnificently from the turquoise Andaman Sea. A whole new generation of fans were entranced when Koh Phi Phi Leh was used for The Beach (2000). The Hangover Part II (2011) is Thailand’s most recent appearance on the silver screen. That’s Hollywood. Bollywood uses it too. More than 100 Indian films were shot there in 2010, attracting film fans from the subcontinent to create their own celluloid dreams. Search and compare cheap flights to Thailand.
Kauai has been Hollywood’s tropical back lot of choice for eight decades now. The most western of the Hawaiian Islands, it oozes star quality. It’s a shape-shifter too, pretending to be Australia, Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and even, in the case of Avatar, a world that doesn’t exist. Tropic Thunder used Wailua Falls and Kauai Sands Beach, Jurassic Park had Kapaa Town as a backdrop, and, most recently, Tahiti Nui appeared in George Clooney’s recent film, The Descendants. The latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) was filmed there too. Search and compare cheap flights to Kauai.
The South American country is well named for the movie business – argento meaning silver after all – and a slew of successful films has been shot there. Sometimes Argentina has stood in for other countries, as was the case with Seven Years in Tibet (the Andes were supposed to be the Himalayas), There Be Dragons (not Madrid, but Lujan) and On the Road. But it has plenty of pulling power of its own as we saw in The Mission (1986), Evita (1996) and the Motorcycle Diaries (2004). Search and compare cheap flights to Argentina.
North Carolina, USA
Plenty of films have been shot in North Carolina – Bull Durham (1988), The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and Dirty Dancing (1987) to name just a few. It’s popular with TV makers too – home of teen dramas Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill and the brilliant Showtime drama Homeland. But 2012 brought the release of The Hunger Games. The movie, based on Suzanne Collins’s novel, was one of the highest grossing films of 2012. The state had everything that was needed – lush forests, industrial wasteland and modern architecture – to create the country of Panem. Search and compare cheap flights to North Carolina.
There were films made in New Zealand (The Piano, Once Were Warriors) but when Peter Jackson made the Lord of the Rings trilogy and revealed New Zealand’s otherworldly landscapes to the rest of the world, Tolkien Tourism exploded. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) and now The Hobbit have cemented New Zealand’s reputation as the film location of choice. Search and compare cheap flights to New Zealand.
Images: London – All rights reserved by Stewart =W=; Tabernas Desert – Elecé; New York – dazjohnson; Vancouver – nanpalmero; Prague – daverugby83; Thailand – Andrew Hurd; Kauai – tlposcharsky; Argentina – wikipedia.org; North Carolina – pirateheart; New Zealand – kiwinz)