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London, Britain’s biggest real film set

| Cinema | 14/09/2012

London, Britain’s biggest real film set
By Diliff (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

by Paul Smithson

‘Notting Hill’, ‘Wimbledon’ and ‘Passport to Pimlico’: just a few of the films that feature London and highlight the capital as one of the greatest real film sets on the planet. Down almost every street is another familiar sight, recognisable perhaps from ‘Sliding Doors’ or ‘Layer Cake’.

With so many famous literary and film references in evidence, it’s almost acceptable to deem London one great big school for film. Don’t forget that many important British film studios are/were located in London: Ealing Studios, Lime Grove Studios, Gainsborough and Pinewood isn’t that far away. It’s unsurprising that they used London as a back drop so very frequently.

Harry Potter

Walking around London, it’s not unheard of that you might see a film being shot or see tourists having their photo taken in front of a building or landmark that appeared in a famous London-situated film. You may see them at the spot where Mark Darcy and Bridget Jones embrace in the ‘snow’ on the corner of the Royal Exchange Buildings in Cornhill. Or perhaps at Leadenhall Market, where 42 Bull’s Head Passage was the entrance to fictional pub, the Leaky Cauldron in ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. Leadenhall Market was also the setting for the big dance number ‘We Twist’ in Bollywood smash hit, ‘Love Aaj Kal’, many Bollywood films also using London as a film location.

Famous Landmarks

Some of London’s already famous landmarks and attractions have also been incorporated into some of our favourite films. Take The Globe Theatre, integral to ‘Shakespeare in Love’ or the Houses of Parliament in ‘National Lampoon’s European Vacation’ (over and over again). St Paul’s features heavily in Disney’s enduring classic, ‘Mary Poppins’, though of course was a painted back drop, as was Covent Garden, scene of Eliza Doolittle’s flower selling in ‘My Fair Lady’.

Films set in London can also serve as important historical recordings, if you like. How quaint is it to watch veteran car ‘Genevieve’ splutter through the barely busy streets of London in the eponymous film of 1953? The fashions, the music, the cars are all captured as if in a time capsule.

Anyone that is interested in film should take a trip to the capital, drift through the streets and imagine the myriad stories that have been told along them. London really is one big film set.

Paul Smithson is writing on behalf of http://centralfilmschool.com/

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