‘Aladdin’: The landscapes of Jordan
A live-action remake of ‘Aladdin’, directed by Guy Ritchie, comes to the big screen next year, with Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Will Smith as the Genie. It is set in the fictional kingdom of Agrabah, and was filmed in Wadi Rum in Jordan, where the protected desert landscape, sandstone and basalt mountains, canyons and otherworldly rock formations — such as Burdah Rock Bridge, one of the highest natural arches in the world — create a dramatic landscape.
Exploring by 4×4 is recommended, and visitors can also stay in a Bedouin desert camp, go camel riding, and visit the 4,000-year-old rock drawings at Khazali Canyon. Booking directly with the Jordan visitor centre on arrival is advised, or with a tour company in advance.
Releasing: May 2019
‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’: Vintage Los Angeles
Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time’ in Hollywood features classic LA locations.
Quentin Tarantino’s ninth (and supposedly penultimate) film has a stellar cast including Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and Al Pacino. Full details of the crime drama have yet to be unveiled, but last April the director told the CinemaCon convention: “‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ takes place in 1969, at the height of the counterculture, hippy revolution and the height of new Hollywood. Street by street, block by block, we’ll transform Los Angeles into the Hollywood of 1969.”
Photos and videos have surfaced showing a stretch of Hollywood Boulevard, between Las Palmas and Cherokee, transformed with period cars, shop fronts and cinemas. But while most of the sets are temporary, it is possible to visit some permanent fixtures featured in the film, including Hollywood’s oldest restaurant, Musso & Frank Grill, which opened in 1919 and whose reputation was set during the golden age of Hollywood, visited by stars such as Charlie Chaplin.
Other Hollywood locations for reliving the retro vibe include Dan Tana’s Italian in West Hollywood, the city’s first late-night restaurant, where stars would dine in anonymity: it celebrated 50 years last year. Next to the art deco Pantages Theater, there’s Hollywood’s oldest dive bar, Frolic Room (which originally opened as a speakeasy in 1930, was a bolt-hole for Barfly writer Charles Bukowski, and featured in ‘LA Confidential’). And the Hollywood Museum in the restored art deco Max Factor building, has tons of memorabilia and a historic pink lobby.
Releasing: July 2019
‘The Lion King’: Kenya’s Hell’s Gate national park
Like the original animation, the new ‘Lion King’ was inspired by Hell’s Gate national park in Kenya.
Almost 25 years after the animated classic hit the screens, a CGI version featuring the voices of Beyonce, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Seth Rogen is being released. Research trips for the original animated film took place in Kenya’s Hell’s Gate national park in Kenya — though Pride Rock was a fictitious element added by the animators.
Hell’s Gate national park, 90km from Nairobi, is named for the intense geothermal activity within its boundaries. The spectacular landscape includes deep, twisting gorges, volcanic rock towers and plumes of steam. Big cat numbers here are low, which means that, uniquely in Kenyan parks, pedestrians are allowed full access. But other wildlife is abundant, with more than 103 species of birds, buffaloes, zebras, gazelles, hyenas, antelopes and baboons. Hire bikes and local guides (for hiking and walking safaris) are available at the entrance; those wanting to explore by car can hire 4x4s at Nairobi airport). If a distant hyena lullaby sounds appealing, there are three campsites in the park (Endachata, Naiburta and Oldubai) and more options at nearby Lake Naivasha.
Releasing: July 2019
‘Downton Abbey’: Highclere Castle and more
The public can visit Highclere Castle, where the TV series and the new Downton Abbey film were shot.
Following on from the finale of the television series in December 2015, the film continues to chart the lives of the Crawley family, their friends and servants. Although set in Yorkshire, filming largely took place at Highclere Castle in Hampshire (where ‘Jeeves & Wooster’, starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, was also shot). The 17th-century Jacobethan castle, with landscaped grounds by Capability Brown, offers special winter tours (January-March, GBP120), tours with afternoon tea (daily April-September), and a live Downton concert by the chamber orchestra of London with narration by Carson (Jim Carter) on 22 June 2019.
Scenes in the fictional Yorkshire village of Downton were filmed in Bampton in Oxfordshire, including at 11th-century St Mary’s Church. Further scenes were shot in Lacock in Wiltshire, a village owned almost entirely by the National Trust, including many of the historic cottages and Lacock Abbey, which has featured in ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
Releasing: September 2019
Wild Rose: Glasgow’s country music scene
Jessie Buckley stars as a Glaswegian ex-con and single mum who dreams of breaking into the country music scene in Nashville. But Glasgow has its own Grand Ole Opry, a country and western club started in 1974 in a former cinema and still putting on gigs every Friday and Saturday. In March, the city, along with London and Dublin, will co-host Europe’s biggest country music festival C2C: Country to Country (8-10 March at SSE Hydro) with Keith Urban and Lyle Lovett on the bill. Glasgow is also a Unesco city of music, putting on more than 150 gigs a week in around 40 venues across the city. Music hotspots include King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Broadcast, Bloc+, SWG3, Stereo, Maggie Mays, and Mono, which is also a record store and vegan cafe.
Releasing: April 2019
‘Abominable’: Walking in the Himalayas
The original film title — ‘Everest’ — might have given a clue to the location of this animated film from DreamWorks. Although story details have yet to be disclosed, it is thought to follow a group from the streets of Shanghai who trek 3,000 miles to reunite the mythical yeti with his family at the highest point on Earth, in the Himalayas.
Since the first successful ascent to the summit of Everest in 1953, the Himalayas have become more accessible, with walking routes across Nepal, India, Pakistan, Tibet and Burma, and varied options depending on season, budget and ability. Trekking in China more specifically includes a multitude of routes around Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan province, taking in deep ravines, snow-capped ranges, rivers, forests and remote rice terraces. Alternatively, there are routes at Sichuan’s Gongga Shan, the King of Mountains, passing glaciers, temples and views over the Tibetan meadows; or in the far north-west of China in Kanas national park, in the Altai Mountains that creep in from Siberia.
Tours of the Himalayas in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Tibet and Burma, range from self-guided trekking suitable for families, to trekking up to an altitude of 5,364 metres to Everest Base Camp.
Releasing: September 2019
‘The House by the Sea (La Villa)’: Coastal Provence
‘The House by the Sea’ was shot in Calanque de Mejean, near Marseille
Calanque de Mejean, an picturesque inlet near Marseille in southern France, was the location for this family drama by veteran director Robert Guediguian. The tiny port beside the towering arches of a large viaduct sets the scene for the reunion of several siblings, who return to the family home when their father suffers a stroke.
Guediguian said Mejean had always reminded him of theatre: “The colourful little houses built into the hills seem to be no more than facades … A viaduct overlooks them and its trains look like child’s toys; the openness towards the sea transforms the horizon into a backdrop … like painted canvases … especially with the winter light, when everyone has gone. It becomes an abandoned set — melancholy and beautiful.”
Mejean is one of several coastal hamlets along Provence’s Cote Bleue, with a picturesque railway route hugging the shore.
Releasing: January 2019
Everybody Knows (Todos lo saben): Torrelaguna, near Madrid
Everybody Knows (Todos lo saben) was filmed in Torrelaguna, north of Madrid
Another homecoming film, this time from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, following Laura (Penelope Cruz), who travels from Buenos Aires back to her childhood home in a village near Madrid to attend a wedding. Abduction, threats and former lovers (namely Paco, played by Javier Bardem) play out in this Spanish drama filmed in the village of Torrelaguna 40 miles from the capital.
Torrelaguna has a beautiful traditional plaza, atmospheric 15th-century church, a Roman bridge, a 10th-century watchtower, and other historic buildings mixing gothic, baroque and neoclassical architectural styles. Restaurants serving Spanishspecialities include Alfoli de la Sal and Casa Moraleda; there are horse riding and walking routes in the surrounding meadows and hills; and the views from the nearby black-slate village of Patones de Arriba are worth a trip too. Releasing: March 2019
‘Fisherman’s Friends’: Port Isaac, Cornwall
Based on a true story, ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ was shot in Port Isaac in Cornwall
Set in Port Isaac, Cornwall, this feel-good British comedy drama is based on the true story of a group of fishermen who were given a record deal after singing sea shanties in their local pub. On the Atlantic coast of north Cornwall, the tiny village of Port Isaac is a popular filming spot, already featuring in Poldark, Doc Martin and Saving Grace.
During the making of Fisherman’s Friends, the original fishermen worked on the boats with the film crew, helped with singing coaching and consulted on accents and dialects. If visiting the area, expect a bit of a singsong in the local pubs, or during the summer (depending on the weather) you might be lucky enough to catch the Fisherman’s Friends giving a performance of sea shanties on the platt (dock). These shows are free, with donations going to charity. There are boat and fishing trips from the port depending on weather and season, and Polzeath beach, one of the best surfing spots in north Cornwall, is five miles away.