Films act as windows onto other worlds for us to observe. They provide us with awe-inspiring scenes and show us breathtaking locations that many of us will never see first-hand. A film’s setting can give off an aura of sophistication and harmony or create fear and suspense in the heart of the viewer.
As a guide to some of my favourite locations, I have listed my Top Five locations and the films in which they are featured.
Known as “The City of Love”, many romantic films have featured Paris as it’s location, such as the brilliantly unique and colourful Amélie. Set in the director’s hometown of the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, it quietly exudes style, romance and finesse. From the film’s opening shot of a bluebottle buzzing down the cobbled rue Saint Vincent to Amélie’s puzzle of blue arrows around the Basilique du Sacré Cœur (pictured right), Montmartre is shown to be a charming, historical and romantic part of Paris that will make your heart flutter.
NEW YORK CITY
Seen as one of America’s most famous cities, the hustle and bustle of New York has become synonymous with typical American life. The city is full of iconic buildings and landmarks such as the Empire State Building and Central Park, and whilst they usually get destroyed in science fiction films, for example Cloverfield and Independence Day, many films use them as a tribute to the beauty of the city. Woody Allen’s Manhattan and Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver offer varied shots of New York at it’s most beautiful and serene, such as the iconic shot of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton sitting in front of the Queensboro Bridge over the East River. New York City manages to merge both the business and pleasure ways of life into a world-famous metropolis.
Quite an obscure north-western Belgian city is the location of Martin McDonagh’s Oscar-nominated black comedy, In Bruges. Despite the city’s tourists attractions being the reason for Colin Farrell’s misery, the “most well-preserved Medieval town in the whole of Belgium” offers a lot of history and architecture. The most famous of these might be the 13th-century belfry that overlooks the town square where Brendan Gleeson’s character meets his end, or the Meestraat Bridge where Ray and Chloë enjoy a romantic stroll. Despite the film being quite dark in places, the location never stops from being filled with intrigue and history which would provide you with a very interesting vacation.
In the recent work of Zhang Yimou, his films are set ancient China and his locations are always breathtakingly beautiful. His first international hit, Hero, features a fight between two assassins hovering over the Mirror Lake, an elegant and peaceful feature of Rize Valley in Jiuzhaigou (pictured right). The water casts beautiful reflections of the surrounding mountain area when the water is calm, giving the appearance of an actual mirror. This natural beauty is also seen in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, where a swordfight takes place among the bamboo forest of Anji. Walking through the forest allows you to hear the wind whispering through the leaves, and see the beauty hidden in the Chinese countryside.
The most recent film of contemporary director Wes Anderson, as well as the entire career of auteur Satyajit Ray, have shown how diverse and cultured India and it’s history are. One of the most featured cities is Odaipur in Western India. It is home to the famous Lake Palace, where James Bond visits in Octopussy. Standing proud in the midst of Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace (pictured below) appears to float on the majestic bed of water and creates an air of magic in the atmosphere.
The mountains of Udaipur provided the mountainous terrain needed for Wes Anderson’sThe Darjeeling Limited when the protagonists travel to an abbey to meet their runaway mother. The spirituality of the scenes filmed there were only heightened by the high altitude and peaceful snow that surrounded the Odaipur mountain range. Both locations manage to capture the unique and calm duality of the Indian culture and leave you feeling there is more than meets the eye with this often over-looked part of the world.