Stories have a way of clinging to places, charging buildings and spaces with an effect only perceptible to those who know what they once staged. Film is the most visual storytelling medium, and their environments often play memorable and vital roles in creating the movie's character and identity. The popularity of film tourism is testament to this phenomena. While the bulk of film tourism stems from blockbuster movies and their exposure and celebrity, the blog Filmap takes a more humble approach in highlighting the stories of everyday places.
For the past three years, the blog has laboriously tracked the locations of hundreds of movie scenes using Google Streetview, pairing stripped-back street views right next to their cinematographic counterparts. The resulting contrast elevates the everyday while also grounding fiction to our very streets, a reminder of the built environment’s role as a vessel of imagination.
A selection of Filmap’s posts are shared below – how many movies can you recognize from their real-life settings alone?
An easy one to start with – Alnwick Castle is the familiar backdrop of where Harry and his friends had their first flying lesson, and also where many Oliver Wood childhood crushes first developed.
Tatooine is a place on earth – in the Tunisian desert at least, where the original Lars Homestead can still be found. When filming wrapped up, the economy boost lingered on as a newfound tourist attraction. However, changes in political climate and dropping visitor numbers have caused the neglected set relics to begin to decay.
Not all McDonald’s are exactly the same, and definitely not all were graced by a wig-donning Karen Mok in a classic Wong Kar Wai scene. Though the interior has now been modernized, the entranceway remains almost the same as in the iconic 1995 scene.
Add a few flying animated birds, Hall & Oates background music and a crew of choreographed dancers and you’ll recognize this fountain as the backdrop to fictional architect Tom Hansen’s post-coital parade.
The modular blockwork of Aries Mateu’s Marker Hotel and Daniel Libeskind’s shard-like Bord Gáiis Energy Theatre created the perfect backdrop to mark the protagonist’s return to the city, following time with a guerrilla gang of loners in the woods.
Before Pirates of the Caribbean, Keira Knightley played out an earlier love triangle alongside football, with Parminder Nagra and Jonathan Rhys Meyers at the unassuming Yeading Football Club.
Another unassuming location, this drycleaner once had a customer who was definitely not unassuming - that customer being Patrick Bateman and his “cranberry juice” stained sheets.
This superbly soundtracked movie made use of the Pontsticill Reservoir in Wales as one its many scenes that featured semi-abandoned locations, letting the movie’s central couple indulge in their own company alone.
The island in question may appear familiar as the same island that appeared on the maps of a doomed Japanese class of high school children in the 2000 dystopian thriller. The fact that the island, Hachijō-kojima, is volcanic and uninhabited makes it unnerving not just in fiction but also reality.
One of the most recognizable posts on Filmap is the Parisian Pont de Bir-Hakeim bridge. It was here that Ellen Page, as a fictional architecture student, practiced her dream-designing abilities alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
It was on a bench in this park square that we all learned that "life is like a box of chocolates." Visitors to the park hoping to share the same bum-print as Tom Hanks however, should be aware that it is not original bench from the movie, which has since been moved to the Savannah History museum.
Check out many more iconic film settings at Filmap's website, here.