7 Movies For England

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It’s the beginning of March and I thought I would begin the month by posting seven movies that wonderfully represent the beautiful, ever-changing landscape of England. Since I’m not a movie critic, my choices aren’t based on the complexities of plot, the gravitas of the acting, or the stylistic themes presented by the director. Instead, these movies are simply an ode to the exceptional way the cinematographer has captured a country and inspired travelers.

  1. Wuthering Heights – the purple-grey heathers of Yorkshire and smoky clouds overhead are a central character to this story of tragedy, revenge, and the power of love. There are several versions of this movie including a 1939 black-and-white production, but to get a feel for the sweeping moors and overcast, moody English countryside, the 1992 and 2011 versions provide the right touch.
  2. Downtown Abbey – not technically a movie, this miniseries takes an in-depth look at England’s social classes right before the first World War. The real life aristocratic Highclere Castle and its manicured lawns which act as the main setting for the movie is not just a staged period piece, it’s actually a historic and working country mansion in Hampshire complete with a modern earl.
  3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – all the Harry Potter films feature bits of England, but in the fifth of the series classic London landmarks are seen as Harry and his friends take to their broomsticks. King’s Cross train station plays an important part in these films as the gateway between Harry’s world and ours. The Harry Potter films also showcase the typical English schooling system with all its quirks and stateliness thanks to the majestic colleges of Oxford.
  4. Wimbledon – Nothing speaks more about English society than the annual tennis championship that is Wimbledon. Paul Bettany as an aging British tennis player embodies all the hopes and desires of his country, but it’s the stadium that does the talking in this movie. The movie’s portrayal of English roads and suburban life makes one yearn for a pitcher of Pimm’s and strawberries with cream.
  5. Sliding Doors – the interesting concept behind this movie centers on whether Gwyneth Paltrow’s character catches one of the train’s on London’s famous Underground system or not. Modern London pubs, restaurants, and apartments are the quintessential surroundings for the movie’s plot.
  6. Sherlock Holmes – Robert Downey Jr. plays the famed literary detective, but the grimy cobblestone streets, the industrial smoke, and the gaslight lanterns give the movie its hard-edged, darkened mood, creating a Victorian London that is both mysterious and dangerous. The ultimate scene takes place on the breathtaking half-constructed proportions of an inky metal Tower Bridge.
  7. A Hard Day’s Night – nothing exemplifies swinging London than the Beatles. In their first film, the band members star alongside the pubs, canals, theaters, and railway stations of the city. London in the sixties is present not only in the fashion and dialogue, but in the cultural references and humor of this film.

Seen a film starring England that you love? Let me know about it!

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