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Traveling in the United Kingdom…
by Film

Posted by Amy Clyde on 12/6/2017
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Europe, Film, Britain, British, England, Great Britain, Scotland

The history teachers who taught me revered accuracy. So it is with a certain rebelliousness that I now confess how much British history I actually learned from the movies. Subject to artistic license, society’s shifting attitudes, and the almighty goal of fast-paced storytelling, film has never been the most accurate art form.

But there was no better way to interest me in Henry VIII, his six wives, and the formation of the Protestant Church of England than watching Anne of a Thousand Days and A Man for All Seasons. The barebones depiction of history told with cinematic magic – heavy on pageantry, drama, romance, and splendor – made me want to know more. When I went to England, I was primed and ready to keep learning in the places the history happened. Standing at the spot at the Tower of London where heads once rolled sent shivers down my spine.

History is, simply, the story of places and their people. Films make those stories immediate and emotional, never more so than when characters and plot are profoundly entwined with setting. I seek out movies that will tell me not just about lives, but also about the unique places that shape those lives.

Here’s a list of films about Great Britain to inspire you before your next visit…

London

FILMS SET IN ENGLAND

Darkest Hour (2017)
Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s first turbulent month in office in May, 1940, when France and Belgium are about to surrender to Germany and Great Britain appears to be next. “We shall fight them on the beaches!”

The Queen (2006)
After Princess Diana’s death, the unexpected outpouring of public mourning threatens to overturn the monarchy, and Queen Elizabeth II must deal with the situation. 

Pride & Prejudice (2005)
A fine costume drama – the most recent adaptation of Jane Austen’s iconic comic novel about the fortunes and misfortunes of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters.

Gosford Park (2001)
By the creator of Downton Abbey, this star-studded mystery and social satire set in 1932 at a grand country estate is told from the perspectives of both the aristocrats and their servants.

Far from the Madding Crowd (1967, 2015)
Two romantic adaptations of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel about the life and loves of an English “woman farmer.” The 1967 version stars Julie Christie, and the 2015 film stars Carey Mulligan.

Notting Hill (1999)
Named after a trendy London neighborhood, this film about a bookseller (Hugh Grant) who literally runs into a movie star (Julia Roberts) and falls in love is shot all over the UK, including the legendary Savoy.

The Theory of Everything (2014)
Professor Stephen Hawking, the renowned physicist (Eddie Redmayne), is a student at Cambridge University when he begins to struggle with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Filmed on location.

Cambridge

Elizabeth (1998)
In 1558, Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett), age 25, inherits the throne of a Catholic country; declares it Protestant; fights off assassination by the French, the Spanish, her rivals, and the Pope; and leads an active romantic life.

Miss Potter (2006)
The Lake District landscape that captivated Beatrix Potter and inspired her books for children is the setting for the film about the author's life, starring Renée Zellweger.

The Young Victoria (2009)
A lavish depiction of Queen Victoria’s accession, the early years of her reign, and her love for Prince Albert. Blenheim Palace has a starring role as both King Leopold’s palace (interior) and Buckingham Palace (exterior).

Chariots of Fire (1981)
The Oscar-winning film about young runners and British society in the years after World War I was shot throughout the UK, including London, Cambridge University, and the beaches of St. Andrews, Scotland.


FILMS SET IN SCOTLAND

Braveheart (1995)
An epic movie about the medieval hero William Wallace who led the Scots in a rebellion against the English. Gorgeous photography, cast of thousands, Oscar for Best Picture.

Local Hero (1983)
A comedy about what happens when an ambitious American lawyer visits a quirky village on the Scottish coast to carry out a big deal (he thinks).

I Know Where I’m Going (1945)
A comic black-and-white gem about an Englishwoman who en route to meeting up with her wealthy fiancé becomes stranded on a Scottish isle, where she tangles with the local laird.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1964)
The young Maggie Smith plays a schoolmistress in 1930s Edinburgh who casts aside the standard curriculum and teaches her 12-year-old pupils about love, politics, and art.

Skyfall (2012)
James Bond drives his iconic Aston Martin along the epic route through Glen Coe, one of the most ruggedly splendid mountain roads in the Scottish Highlands.

Balmoral Castle

Sunset Song (2016)
The Northern Scottish landscape takes center stage in this acclaimed film about poor farmers in the years leading up to World War I. A harsh life, but also sublimely beautiful.

Mrs. Brown (1997)
In mourning after her husband’s death, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) withdraws from public life to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where servant John Brown revives her spirits.

Mary Queen of Scots (1971)
This drama about the life of Queen Mary stars the dynamic duo of Vanessa Redgrave as the queen and Glenda Jackson as her nemesis, Queen Elizabeth I of Great Britain.


FAMILY FILMS SET IN THE UK

The Secret Garden (1993)
An adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s brilliant children’s novel, the film tells the story of an orphaned girl, a lonely boy, and the Yorkshire garden that changes their lives.

Murder by Decree (1979)
Christopher Plummer stars as Sherlock Holmes in pursuit of Jack the Ripper. The knockout cast includes James Mason as Watson, Sir John Gielgud, and Donald Sutherland.

London King's Cross railway station

Sherlock Holmes Films with Basil Rathbone (1939-1946)
With a chin that possesses the “prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination,” Rathbone embodies Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s omniscient detective.

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
At a boys' school teenaged Sherlock Holmes meets fellow pupil James Watson and solves the mystery of elderly men dying under bizarre circumstances in London.

Harry Potter movies
Filming locations are all over the UK, from Hagrid’s Hut in Scotland to London King's Cross station, where pupils board the Hogwarts Express on Platform 9¾, and Alnwick Castle (Hogwarts) in Northumberland.

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