All I need to make a comedy is a park,
a policeman and a pretty girl.
– Charlie Chaplin
There is more than one way to go to the movies. The big screen with stadium seating (with or without the gasp-inducing 3-D effects) is the best. A smaller screen in your own home on cable suits many stories. You can buy the costumes and market collateral for your kids so they can be the heroes and re-create scenes in the family room. But did you know you can tour the locations used for the making of the movie?
Among the dozens of email offers I see each day are a few opportunities to see the actual buildings and landscapes used for films you know and love. These are not tours to sets at Universal Studios or the back lots of George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic. I mean a tour following the action of The DaVinci Code which takes you to Paris, London and Scotland. There’s the Lord of the Rings tour which takes you to New Zealand to see the rivers and canyons which the band trekked across to get to Mordor. Stockholm offers a tour to show you the locales of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. All these are available to you.
Only the most popular stories inspire such tours, and usually the story line has been presented in more than one medium. The Harry Potter phenomenon (books and movies) is the inspiration for tours that include the real Kings Cross station where Harry and his classmates would board the Hogwarts Express. Try Googling images of “platform 9 ¾” and you will see that many people have tried to push the luggage trolley which seems to be disappearing into the brick wall that separates us from the magical world. You will not see Diagon Alley, but you can see many locations used for scenes in the movies.
Stories which give rise to tours are usually known as a book and movie, but occasionally other combinations appear. The Sex and the City tour offers TV and movie followers the highlights of New York City. Downton Abbey tours are inspired solely by that TV series. Women who love Mr. Darcy or Heathcliff can visit sites connected to Jane Austen and the Brontës. One of my favorite books, The Shadow of the Wind, has spawned a walking tour in the Barcelona neighborhoods where the tale unfolds.
So many to choose from! If you cannot decide on one movie to follow, many cities offer tours of sites used in a collection of the movies filmed there. New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles (of course) all offer such tours. In Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu offer multi-feature tours also.
Any avid reader or movie fan with research skills can pull together a list of places connected with a favorite film or book. Isn’t it great to know that someone has done the research for you and would be delighted to share the findings with you?
What filming locale would you most like to visit? I would love to hear about it.
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.
18 July 2013