“Lights, Camera, Action!”- Movies and the Cottswolds(OP1)

Hello fellow travelers!

Today, I will be talking about film locations in the Cottswolds area in southern England. The beautiful rolling hills, fields of sheep and crops, and little country villages that seem to transport visitors back in time all combine to create the perfect setting for filmmakers to use to create  their vision. Two areas I will specifically look at are Lacock and Castle Combe, both in Wiltshire, England. Both provide great examples of film locations, as we will see later.

How does a location get picked? This is a complicated question due to the subjectivity of each location. For Castle Combe, it was through popular publicity. At one point in the 1960s, Castle Combe was named as one of the most beautiful towns in the UK. This publicity led filmmakers from 20th Century Fox to decide to film there. One of the movies filmed there was Dr. Doolittle (1967) starring Rex Harrison. A stream on the outskirts of the quaint village was transformed into a fishermens village, becoming a major setting in the film. Another popular movie filmed there was Steven Spielberg’s War Horse (2012). The market’s cross in the middle of the village transformed into an early 20th century horse market in the movie. Other parts of town were also used in that scene to create a “European village” before WWI. 

Another area of the Cottswolds popular for filming is Lacock. Lacock has been used by the film industry since the 1960s. Its lack of modern buildings and technology found on the side of buildings in conjunction with 17th century style buildings can be transformed to look like almost any historical setting. This feature coupled with the abbey’s magnificent medieval structure has become popular with filmmakers of historical movies. Movies filmed on Lacock include: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1967 & 1995), Emma (1996), Moll Flanders (1996), The Mayor of Casterbridge (2003), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (2008), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), and, of course, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), The Chamber of Secrets (2002), and more recently, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). Areas used most frequently were storefronts on the High Street for markets and villages, and the abbey cloister, hallways, and rooms. BBC TV series were also filmed there such as Robin of Sherwood (1980s) and Cranford (2007).

Both areas provide great examples of how the landscape and small country villages were used in films. The quaint little town and the historical village and cloister lend perfect sets for making movies. With the exposure through film, tourism kicks up and allows for economic growth within the town. Locals often get casted as extras, providing their own fifteen minutes of fame and, again, more economic growth. Tourism and the subsequent consequences of industrialization have not hit these areas which allows for films to keep coming back and the spaces to be used. So the next time you watch a British historical movie or Harry Potter, you might just catch a glimpse of some of these amazingly beautiful places.

Until next time!

Ashley H.


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