What’s the ultimate cheap way of seeing London? By seeing London in film, of course! Rent or buy the following movies for great views and experiences of the city. Some of them may well present a stylised and somewhat unnatural view of the city, but who cares? It’s still a great way of seeing the capital!
101 Dalmatians (1996)
London, as brought to you by Disney. Very picturesque, pretty, romantic…oh, and cute puppies too! There are some very fairytale views of London’s skyline, as well as an actually fairly realistic-looking Battersea Park. Trafalgar Square also gets shown.
About A Boy (2002)
Hugh Grant seems to be doing quite a good job of publicising London through the medium of film – five of his movies are featured here. In About A Boy, a variety of locations are used including Clerkenwell (see below), Regent’s Park and Hakkasan restaurant in Soho. Well worth watching both for it’s scenes of London and because it’s pretty decent film.
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
Bizarrely, some of the scenes (just after the bank robbery when they make a getaway and nearly run over the old lady) were shot in a square in Clerkenwell – just around the corner from where Hugh Grant’s character, Will, had is apartment in About A Boy! Also shown is Little Venice in Maida Vale, northwest London – so-called because of its canals – and even good old Heathrow Airport makes an appearance. A highly recommended movie! (Not so much for London, but definitely for the comedy!)
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)
Sights of London numerous (vg), lovely English men 2 (excellent)
Of particular interest is the 192 Restaurant on Kensington Park Road, W11, which is also mentioned in the book! However, this restaurant no longer exists in real life.
Numerous Bond films (across the years!)
It’s no surprise that London features heavily in many Bond films, especially in some of the more recent ones. In The World Is Not Enough (1999), for example, there are some quite stunning sequences filmed in London, the best of the bunch being the boat chase on the River Thames during which a number of famous landmarks can be seen in the background, and which ends in a spectacular scene above (and on) the Millennium Dome (now called The O2) in east London. In Die Another Day (2003) various bits of London that can be seen in this movie; however, the top bit of trivia concerns Vauxhall Cross Underground station that James Bond goes down to (to visit Q in his laboratory) via a secret entrance. Vauxhall Cross doesn’t actually exist in real life, and the scenes weren’t filmed in an actual Underground station! The Tube (or Underground) also makes and appearance in Skyfall (2012) as the setting of a dramatic chase sequence between Bond and the main villain, and also as a “surprise threat” for Bond!
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Truthfully, London doesn’t feature so prominently in this film, and some other lovely British locations are also the focus for the numerous events described in the title. One city landmark that is featured is the South Bank complex, where Charles (Hugh Grant) declares his love for Carrie (Andie MacDowell), whilst the Church of St Bartholomew the Great, apparently the oldest place of worship in London, is also shown.
Friends (end of Season 4 & “The Making Of” extras on the Season 5 DVD)
Okay, okay, so not actually a movie. Blink-and-you-miss-it shots of London. Did Jennifer, Courteney and the rest of the gang really fly all that way to film some of the episodes in London? They did indeed, and they also filmed the studio scenes in front of British audiences (which they were nervous of doing, apparently, as they were unsure of the reaction they’d get). Highlights include Joey and Chandler arguing (“You’re Westminster crabby!!”), and cameos from Richard Branson and Sarah Ferguson. Some of the last sentence may have been said in a sarcastic tone.
Notting Hill (1999)
Filmed in…er…Notting Hill, so it’s unsurprising that you’ll see a considerable part of that area of London in the film, such as Portobello Road (the market), Westbourne Park Road, Golborne Road and the Coronet Cinema on Notting Hill Gate. The Ritz Hotel (in Mayfair) is also featured, whilst the film premiere shown towards the end of the movie was shot at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square.
Sliding Doors (1998)
Complete with inaccurate tube travel – no, not the good service and levels of cleanliness, but the fact that the tube trains/signs/exits don’t correspond. Yes, it is pernickety to have pointed that out. There are also some quite nice scenes featuring the Thames, and it’s probably one of the few films to feature Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in Fulham.