Titan Books 2003 , 415 pages , £16.99 , HB
Bitesize: Hugely entertaining compendium of film location paraphernalia!
Ever wanted to know where they filmed your favourite film? Then this is the book to have. It comprises a comprehensive listing of movies indicating where in the world key scenes were shot. It’s indexed by film title, but there’s also a gazetteer, so if you’re travelling somewhere and want to know whether any of your favourite scenes were shot close by, simply look up the location in the handy directory. Packed with information this is a surprisingly encompassing volume that you could use either as a film buff’s holiday planner, a reference guide or as a useful “well I’m in the area, so can I find anything that was made there” add-on to your chosen holiday destination. Although the introduction apologises for the lack of detail on Hong Kong films (although there is a Chungking Express entry) or Bollywood films, it nonetheless covers a far wider set of films than could reasonably be expected – it’s not all contemporary British and American films. For example there is quite extensive coverage of the films of Bunuel and Pasolini, as well as tips on finding locations used in Orphee or Vigo’s A Propos de Nice – essential for any holiday in the district and timely considering its imminent re-issue with a Michael Nyman soundtrack. Reeves’ tone is succinct and factual but he also provides brief personal opinions on the films too (although why anyone would favour Halloween 4 over 3 is anyone’s guess) so he really packs the information in. Also of note are the number of illustrations – helpful if you aren’t quite sure which building Rosemary actually had her baby in. The colour sections are great too – covering a world tour of the Star Wars films, Harry Potter’s Britain and the three Lord of the Rings films. Fortunately even these sections aren’t restricted to the blockbuster films designed to lure the casual reader – there’s a tour of Lola’s run in Berlin (and a perfect example of the power of cinema geography to completely differ from actual) and the Von Trapp’s Saltzberg – if you’re ever in town you can have confidence in you.
So all good stuff – even if you never stray from your armchair there’s much to gain in this fact-filled book – but there is one nagging problem. After a while you suddenly realise the author has managed to have multiple dream holidays of a lifetime doing the research, while you struggle to catch a glimpse of the disused slag heap seen in the background a Ken Loach film. It just ain’t fair!
Any Cop?: The Lonely Planet Guide For Film Buffs should be the subtitle of this handy tome. What a good idea!