(“Oscars Week” continues today with photos shot at European movie locations.)
So many movies have been filmed in London that picking just a few to highlight that city’s importance as a cinematic location is difficult. But since I’ve chosen this shot taken in 2006 of one of London’s icons, Buckingham Palace, here are three recent flicks about its royal residents, listed in the order in which the lead actor’s character ascended to the British throne: The Young Victoria, The King’s Speech, and The Queen.
On August 13, 1961, just over fifty years ago and sixteen years after the end of World War II, the Berlin Wall began to rise. When finished, it became the most visible symbol of the Iron Curtain dividing the West from the Russian-dominated East. For the next thirty-eight years, the Wall kept East Germans from safely passing from one side of Berlin to the other.
Finally, in November of 1989, the Berlin Wall, and the Communist government of East Germany, began to figuratively topple, ultimately causing a “domino-effect” as democracy freed the Soviet Bloc countries of Eastern Europe. Today, it’s easy to visit East Berlin as a tourist. You no longer have to get clearance to enter the Soviet Sector at “Checkpoint Charlie,” which has become a popular museum. And the Wall is now a large outdoor mural, called the East Side Gallery, decorated by artists from around the world.
On the 50th anniversary of the Wall’s inception, Time ran its story on the “Top 10 Berlin Wall Movies.” Three of those films in which the Berlin Wall figures prominently are The Lives of Others, The Tunnel, and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.
Is it Prague or Is it Zurich?
One of the blessings bestowed on the Czech Republic’s capital city of Prague is that unlike Berlin, it was not bombed into oblivion during World War II. The Czech Film Commissions says that Prague is:
“one of Europe’s most picturesque cities. Prague’s extensive historical centre is a UNESCO heritage site, a time capsule of every architectural style dating back to the Middle Ages. The city’s historic look has allowed the city to stand in for dozens of other locations and time periods, from medieval Europe to modern America.”
So, while in The Bourne Identity Matt Damon’s character is rousted by a couple of Swiss cops in what is supposed to be a “Zurich” park, the scene was actually filmed in Prague. And when Bourne dangles $20,000 in front of Marie as an enticement to drive transport him to Paris, you see the two of them driving through the snowy countryside near Prague, not the Swiss city where the movie leads you to believe they met.
“Prague Castle,” not a single edifice, but a complex of buildings high on a hill overlooking the Vltava River, is one of the city’s “hot” tourist attractions. Two photos featured in last week’s “Travel Photo Thursday: We’re Going to the Chapel” were taken there.
From this 2009 photo which I took of the castle’s Matthias Gate, you can see why it was a “body double” for Buckingham Palace in the Jackie Chan film, Shanghai Knights. That gate also served as an “impostor” of the entrance to Crown Prince Leopold’s Vienna palace in the movie The Illusionist.
The beaches of Normandy ran red with blood when Allied forces staged the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944. It was here that the the tide of World War II turned against the Germans, ultimately sweeping them hundreds of miles eastward from the sea, back to their own capital city, Berlin.
D-Day has been memorialized in many films starring big box office names, such as The Longest Day (1962; John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, and Rod Steiger), The Big Red One (1980; Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill and Robert Carradine), and Saving Private Ryan (1998; Tom Hanks and Matt Damon). Today, the locations in Normandy where those films were shot draw throngs of tourists who wish to see where real acts of heroism took place nearly seventy years ago.
Military cemeteries, where soldiers who died during World War II rest in peace, dot the Normandy countryside. On those hallowed grounds, one can quietly reflect on the insanity of war, and honor those from both sides who lay down their lives for their fellow countrymen. I took this photo in September of 2006 at the American Cemetery, just above Omaha Beach. The white crosses marching away to the horizon serve as a stark reminder that tens of thousands of Americans servicemen fell during the battle for Europe over a half-century ago.
(Visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more of this week’s Travel Photo Thursday shots. Tomorrow on “Oscars Week” - iPhone/iPad Apps for “Watching The Oscars on the Road.” )