24 great films shot in East Anglia - have you seen them all?
PUBLISHED: 12:05 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:48 17 February 2020
It’s only fitting that ahead of the Oscar weekend we celebrate local success stories – so here are 24 films that utilised East Anglia’s talent.
WINNER: Yesterday (2019): Surprising collaboration between Trainspotting director Danny Boyle and romantic comedy writer Richard Curtis about a struggling Suffolk-based singer-songwriter who wakes up after a late-night road traffic accident to discover he is the only person who can remember The Beatles. He goes onto fame and fortune (with Ed Sheeran's help) by making the Fab Four's music his own. Shot across Suffolk and Norfolk from Gorleston to Halesworth down to the Ramsholt Arms outside Woodbridge before finally ending up at the Latitude Festival at Henham, near Southwold. It's a magical film fable which is grounded in a recognisable landscape.
Yesterday's Hero (1979): Ian McShane (TV's Lovejoy) plays an alcoholic former soccer star (echoes of George Best) who is determined to make a comeback. He gets help from his former girlfriend, now a rock star, and her partner. Several of the football 'action' sequences were shot at Portman Road during Ipswich Town's First Division heyday.
The Personal History of David Copperfield (2020): A quirky, star-studded take on the Charles Dickens classic which saw Bury St Edmunds standing in for the Victorian streets of London and Kings Lynn as Great Yarmouth harbour. Dev Patel stars as the title character alongside Peter Capaldi, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Anna Maxwell Martin, Paul Whitehouse and Ben Wishaw. David Copperfield narrates his own story in this mad-cap, fast-paced comic adventure.
Memphis Belle (1990): Michael Caton-Jones impressive true-life World War II story of the first Flying Fortress crew to complete the required number of bombing raids over Nazi-occupied Europe to qualify to return home before the end of the war. Largely shot at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, just outside Cambridge, using restored Flying Fortresses, the film starred Eric Stoltz, Matthew Modine and Harry Connick Jnr, as the aircrew of the famous aircraft. The flying sequences were stunning.
Stardust (2007): Dazzling contemporary fairytale in which Norwich doubles as a sort-of-medieval market town beyond 'the wall'. Claire Danes is a shining star who has crashed down to earth and is being hunted by evil witch Michelle Pfeiffer. It is up to Charlie Cox to keep her safe - after all he went all the way to Ipswich to buy a ring. Robert de Niro delivers a remarkable supporting performance as across-dressing pirate.
Witchfinder General (1966): Vincent Price summons up his inner demons to become Matthew Hopkins, East Anglia's legendary Witchfinder General. Shot on location in Lavenham, Thetford, Orford Castle and Bury St Edmunds this film is quite rightly regarded as a classic and presents an atmospheric look at a dark chapter in our history, shortly after The Civil War, when anyone could be put to death as a witch.
WINNER: David Yates: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2011): The final two parts of the decade long Harry Potter franchise were a long and exciting bringing together of a multitude of different storylines. David Yates did a remarkable job in not only bringing the epic narrative to a satisfying conclusion but ensuring that this magical wizarding world was given some extra atmosphere thanks to location filming among the genuinely old and imposing Tudor houses in Lavenham.
Michael Anderson: The Yangste Incident (1957): A true life war film starring Richard Todd and William Hartnell in which the River Orwell stood in for the Yangste River in China. In 1949, during the Chinese Civil War, British warship H.M.S. Amethyst found itself under barrage fire from the Communist Chinese shore batteries.
Hugh Hudson: Revolution (1985): Al Pacino arrived in Kings Lynn for this hugely expensive American War of Independence movie by Chariots of Fire director Hugh Hudson. The film co-starred Donald Sutherland, Nastassja Kinski along with Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox. The story revolved around a trapper and his young son who get pulled into the American revolution as unwilling participants and remain involved through to the end.
Guy Green: The Angry Silence (1960): Richard Attenborough visits Ipswich engineering firm Ransomes and Rapier to film this story of industrial unrest. He plays a young factory worker who decides to stand up against his workmates and fellow union members when they want to hold an unofficial strike. Director Guy Green captures the look and feel of the time as well as the courage it takes for an individual to do what they perceive is the right thing.
WINNER: John Mills: Scott of the Antarctic (1948): No-one personified the plucky British spirit when faced with adversity better than Norfolk-born, Felixstowe-raised Sir John Mills. In a career of playing dependable heroes, he gave his finest performance as British explorer Robert Falcon Scott during his 1912 expedition to reach the South Pole. He gave a national hero a fallible, human face.
Christopher Plummer: All the Money in the World (2018): Christopher Plummer was a last minute casting choice brought in by director Ridley Scott to replace Kevin Spacey in the John Paul Getty kidnap drama All The Money In The world. Plummer turned in a commendably cold-hearted performance surrounded by the exotic lustre of Elveden Hall.
Michael Caine: Fourth Protocol (1987): An epic Cold War drama set in Suffolk adapted from a best-selling book by Frederick Forsyth. Caine is John Preston, a British Agent tasked with preventing the Russians from detonating a nuclear device next to an American base. Caine is always an engaging presence onscreen. Shooting sequences in Colchester, Ipswich as well as RAF Mildenhall and RAF Honington this was a real East Anglian film.
You may also want to watch:
WINNER: Judi Dench/Kate Winslet: Iris (2001): Shot partly on location in Southwold, Judi Dench and Kate Winslet both portray author Iris Murdoch at different stages of her life. Winslet's Iris is young and carefree - very much the independent spirit - while Judi Dench shows how this remarkable woman was brought down by the horrors of dementia.
Angelina Jolie: Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001): In the early years of the 21st century Angelina Jolie was the look of Lara Croft - a daredevil archaeologist and adventurer turned from a video game character into a larger-than-life film franchise. Suffolk's Elveden Hall became Croft Towers and provided a suitably classy backdrop for the well-spoken heiress.
Michelle Pfeiffer: Stardust: In the course of this film, partly shot on location in Norwich, Michelle Pfeiffer's witch goes from a crumbling hag into a beautiful scheming seductress and back again. It's a winning performance which provides the narrative drive for this engaging contemporary fairytale.
WINNER: The Bridge (1992): Saskia Reeves, David O'Hara, Joss Ackland star in this true-life story of Victorian artist Phillip Wilson Steer and his annual visits to the Suffolk village of Walberswick and how he was so captivated by the landscape he set an artists colony there. Adrian Hodges adapted Maggie Hemingway's novel for the screen which has Isobel Hetherington, mother of three young daughters, becoming first a muse and then an obsession for the eminent artist.
I Capture the Castle (2003): Heidi Thomas adapted Dodie Smith's iconic Suffolk-set novel for the big screen which provided Romola Garai with one of her first leading roles as the daughter of rather eccentric parents who live in the shadow of Wingfield Castle in the 1930s. As the eldest daughter she is forced to look after her father (Bill Nighy) who is an author suffering from writer's block and a mother (Tara Fitzgerald) who is determine to commune with nature.
WINNER: Elveden Hall: Eyes Wide Shut (1999): Stanley Kubrick's final movie starred Tom Cruise and then wife Nicole Kidman in a dense story of sexual obsession and mysterious cloaked gatherings in stately homes. Elveden Hall has never looked so magnificient with its mix of Gothic and Indian architecture forming the backdrop to an almost religious looking orgy which Tim Cruise's character finds himself embroiled in. A masterful mix of location, lighting and production design.
Holkham Beach: Shakespeare In Love (1998): One of Norfolk's finest beaches is given the full Hollywood treatment in the closing minutes of this Oscar-winning romantic comedy. Gwyneth Paltrow's Viola has been shipwrecked on a foreign shore and as she reads the film's epilogue over the final images, we see her character walking across the vast expanse of Holkham's gorgeous sandy beach. Norfolk can double for some exotic Carribean island.
Thorpeness: Drowning By Numbers (1988): Bernard Hill, Joan Plowright, Juliet Stevenson, Joely Richardson star in this highly regarded tale of murder and revenge by art-house favourite Peter Greenaway. Tired of her husband's philandering ways, the mother of two daughters drowns her husband. With the reluctant help of the local coroner (Bernard Hill), the murder is covered up. Her daughters are having similar problems with relationships, and seek to follow their mother's example. The hapless coroner becomes reluctantly involved in their murders as well. The film was largely shot in and around an extensive beach house close the Meare in Thorpeness.
Claydon area, Ipswich: Private Peaceful (2012): Extensive World War I trenches, a muddy no-man's land, shattered farmsteads this location had it all for the big screen adaptation of the Michael Morpurgo novel which starred George Mackay, Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour and Maxine Peake. Suffolk doubled for both Devon and Flanders in this gripping war movie that examined the lives of two farming brothers who were called up to serve their country in the war to end all wars.
WINNER: Vernon Layton The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill (1995): Hugh Grant plays an English cartographer who must tell a Welsh village that their mountain is only a hill, but finds himself drawn into the community effort to pile up stones and earth onto the summit of the hill to once again return it to mountain status. The film has an Ealing comedy feel to it and Suffolk-based director of photography Vernon Layton makes the most of the beautiful Welsh landscape.
Best Visual Effects:
WINNER: Steven Hall: Gladiator (2000): Suffolk-based second unit cinematographer and special effects expert Steven Hall played a huge role in putting the wow factor in Ridley Scott's Roman epic Gladiator. He was part of the camera team which captured the breath-taking fiery destruction of the forest and German tribes at the beginning of the film before being tasked with shooting the footage to recreate Rome in Malta as well as filming the background and extras action required to build the digital Coliseum in post-production.
Best Action Sequence:
WINNER: The World Is Not Enough (1999): Pierce Bond is James Bond in this tense kidnap drama co-starring Sophie Marceau but before the action moves to the Russian oil fields, Bond gets involved in a dramatic boat chase along the River Thames, through Canary Wharf before ending up at the O2 arena. Along the way Bond destroys a floating pier and executes a spectacular 360 degree barrel roll with his jet-powered craft. These stunts were orchestrated by Suffolk-based Bickers Action, long-term James Bond stunt specialists who first became involved in the world of 007 in Octopussy when they staged a Tuk Tuk chase through the streets of Dehli.
The Fourth Protocol: In a scene worthy of James Bond, the then newly opened Orwell Bridge became part of the aerial backdrop for the dramatic arrival of the SAS in the Michael Caine thriller. A formation of military helicopters is seen flying in formation along the River Orwell and straight between the legs of the massive bridge. The low-flying squadron are next seen hovering over the Ipswich Wet Dock as the elite special forces slide down ropes onto the quayside.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Action scenes can be full of art and beauty. When the bad guys decide to pay Lara Croft a visit at her home (Elveden Hall) she defends her home in a remarkable aerial ballet, bouncing around the soaring entrance hall on bungee wires. It's a spectacular action sequence which also shows off its location to maximum effect.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.