Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Wartorn London (and elsewhere) on film

While writing about empty London, I realised I have a fascination for movies shot in post-war wastelands. In that post's Seven Days to Noon (1950), the central character hides among bomb-damaged buildings in the City. On another occasion I wrote about Jacques Tourneur's Berlin Express (1948), much of which was filmed amid the devastation wrought by the allied bombing of Berlin and Frankfurt.

One year later, Orson Welles used real Viennese locations for The Third Man, including the Riesenrad, where Harry Lime famously damns 500 years of Swiss brotherly love. Roman Polanski used CGI to create one of cinema's most dramatic visions of war damage in The Pianist (2002), when the camera lifts to reveal the alien landscape of an annihilated Warsaw.

Back in London in 1949, a bombed site in Lambeth became the setting for Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico, although the war-damaged buildings featured in the film are sets. Stanley Kubrick stretched this MO further when he filmed the battle scenes for his Vietnam war movie Full Metal Jacket (1987) - in the Isle of Dogs and the Royal Docks (pictured).

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