Les endroits imaginaires

A slightly less successful location scout than previous times, but one that I had been waiting to do for a while.

If you’ve mooched around the menu of this blog, or if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’m a fan of Québecois director Xavier Dolan, and as I was heading for Montréal last year, I just had to have a look around.

From his 2010 film Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats) what I really wanted to find was something from the sequences where Marie and Francis walk down the street in the Mile End area of Montréal to the brilliant song sung by Dalida. Here’s the sequence:

I was all set to put my hair up and do a slo-mo walk past the blue wall (which you can see at 2:02 in the video above).

I found where I thought it was, I could see something blue in the distance, but when I got there …

Not exactly glamourous.

But it is definitely the right place – Google Maps has it looking like this in August 2016:

Anyway, by chance I also recognised this flower shop along the same street, which appears in this sequence (starting at 0:34):

Here’s the flower shop , which I did do a walk-by of!

 

Super-location

Another in the series of ‘On Location’, where I stumble across views from movies.

So yeah, Niagara Falls is a bit obvious, but I couldn’t resist … the scene in Superman II where Lois is starting to wonder whether … well, you know.

I’m with Clark on this one – it is impressive.

Me:

Richard Lester/Richard Donner

 

Inglorious Location

I took myself off for a short pre-Christmas break in one of my favourite cities this weekend – Berlin!

I’ve already described a couple of locations from The Bourne Supremacy in a previous post, and this time, I even did the complete ‘get on a tram in Alexanderplatz’ thing that Jason and Nicky did.

But there’s much more to Berlin than that, and so this time I found myself eating Apfelstrudel. A bit like this:

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Obviously a scene from Inglorious Basterds, no-one eats with more charming menace than Christoph Waltz. If you know the film well, you’ll know that the scene is set in Paris, but it was actually filmed in a beautiful café in Berlin – Café Einstein Stammhaus.

The café has a large open area, and a smaller room in which filming took place but which was unfortunately full when I arrived so I ended up sitting in the larger area.

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No matter; I ordered my Apfelstrudel and coffee, and of course it was delicious.

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Here’s the full, chilling scene, if you want to experience it again.

The Bourne Location

The Bourne films thrive on taking us on trips to various, usually European, locations, and I had the good luck to find myself in the heart of one of them a few years ago.

Berlin is one of my favourite cities, and on a short break there I happened to notice a really good deal on accommodation at The Westin Grand. This would normally be out of my price range, but it turns out that there were extensive developments on Berlin’s underground system taking place right outside the door. I guess this meant that the usual clientele would be put off so they lowered prices for the duration. Anyway, I snapped it up, because of its location in Berlin and because it only took a moment to recognise that amazing atrium from The Bourne Supremacy.

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Gorgeous!

You might also remember that Bourne arranges to meet Nicky at Alexanderplatz, by the world clock – here it is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, The Westin Grand also appeared in a film earlier this year – Victoria. This movie is known for having been filmed in one take, and the final scenes take place in the Westin. It’s an interesting film which many people really liked – it didn’t work for me entirely, but it certainly has its merits, and it might be worth a look.

Captain America – or should that be Captain Manchester?

I’ve know about this location for, well, ages, but because it’s in the town in which I live and is virtually on the doorstep, I didn’t think any more of it until I started to put together my ‘on location‘ posts.

There’s a part of Manchester city centre known as the Northern Quarter, and it is frequently used as a stand in for different parts of New York City. Maybe the sun has to be added afterwards, but look …IMG_0688 IMG_0335
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Marvel freaks will probably be interested to know that today, I walked the very street that Hayley Atwell and Chris Evans did when they were filming the Brooklyn scenes as Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger.For example, you can see how they dressed the lower parts of the building to create shop fronts, but that arched corner door in the background is unmistakeable.

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And here’s Cap running down the street – having been there today, it’s amazing how all the running scenes take place up and down the same street, but in different directions. Concentrate next time you watch the film, and you’ll see this building and the red door on the corner opposite appear time after time – they’re quite distinctive.

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And actually, if you look closely at the street going past the car window as Peggy and Steve drive to the location of his transformation, you’ll see the same buildings going past time and time again.

It’s quite obvious in this trailer (in fact – isn’t that a red door …?).

 

Incidentally the fight scenes by the water with Richard Armitage were shot just along the motorway in Liverpool – but perhaps that’s a post for another day.

In the footsteps of the Corleone Family

 

 

There’s a village near Palermo in Sicily called Corleone, which would lead you to believe that scenes from The Godfather films were shot here.

However, the actual location for these scenes in on the other side of the island, shared between two different villages – Savoca and Forza d’Agrò. Fortunately, I was staying in the town of Taormina, not too far from either, so a trip was in order. Forza d’Agrò is the place where we see young Vito being hidden in a cart outside the church before escaping to New York in The Godfather II (you can compare in the video clip below).

This was fun, but not as much as getting to Savoca. That’s the home of Bar Vitelli, where Michael meets Apollonia at her father’s bar, and also the church where they are married, and the square where the wedding party takes place.


Here’s me, sitting in Al Pacino’s actual spot outside the bar, having walked up the side street just like he does in the film. There are a few more plants around the bar than in the film, but then … tourism, eh.

The village also has a tribute to Francis Ford Coppola, recognisable by his silhouette – see the gallery under the video for a few more shots.

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A Brief Encounter at Milford Junction

Listening to Radio 4’s The Film Programme podcast recently, I was surprised and excited to learn that Carnforth railway station – which played Milford Junction so well in David Lean’s Brief Encounter – is not only a working station, but has a Heritage Centre celebrating the location filming of the Palme d’Or winning film.

Carnforth is only 90 minutes from Manchester by train (we could have driven, but it seemed more appropriate to arrive by train) so my friend and I set out to see what was to be seen.

Arriving at the station, we first had to make our way to the correct platform, which meant that we immediately found ourselves here:

The underpass where Laura and Alec have their tryst.
The underpass where Laura and Alec have their tryst.

It doesn’t look as good in colour with the electric lighting, I admit, but it does retain that grubby feel that Laura experienced in her assignations with Alec.

Following the red railings up the slope, brings you here:

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Starting to look familiar?

The Heritage Centre is fascinating – not just for lovers of the film, but also if you are interested in the history of railways – for a long time, Carnforth was a major junction on the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and there are plenty of displays and video installations to delight the train buff too. It was selected as the location because it was far enough away from major cities to be able to get around the blackout rules during the war. And when you watch the film, you’ll notice that the platform scenes are all at night – this was to avoid having to close the busy station during daytime.

Some railway stuff
Some railway stuff

There are lots of railway-related artifacts from the past, including this fire extinguisher which I have to admit prompted a few giggles with its instructions (sorry).

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There’s a tiny cinema area which shows Brief Encounter on a constant loop, and you can sit for as long as you like and watch the film before buying your souvenirs in the little shop.

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“Are you happy?” “Not very.”

You can also see the commemorative plaque, for some reason located right next to the ladies’ loo …

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But the real highlight is the Refreshment Room, which, with the exception of the espresso machine, looks exactly as it did when Trevor Howard removed that speck of grit from Celia Johnson’s eye.

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Of course it was necessary to have a cup of tea.

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We had a lovely couple of hours in the calm environment of the station, and if you are a railway enthusiast, or if you love Brief Encounter, then it’s well worth a visit.

Here’s a selection of pictures from the visit.

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