Cities behind the silver screen

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Cities behind the silver screen

The French film festivals of Cannes and Deauville are famous beyond borders. And since 1891, cities all around the world have offered a stage for filmmaking and movie events of all kinds. Let's raise the curtain on our prize list!

It is time to reveal the secrets behind some of the most beautiful scenes cinema has to offer. Raw, unmixed, devoid of SFX and unedited… It is time to take off and pursue some childhood dreams fuelled by so many movies. From Paris to Kyoto, Marrakech, Rome and Montpellier, join this wild ride on various locations that made it onto the silver screen.

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Cities behind the silver screen

Under the Fushimi Inari Taisha crimson-coloured torii

In Kyoto – about one hour drive from Osaka – our journey begins in pace with young Chiyo's frantic strides. Baffled by her fortuitous encounter with the Chairman, the Japanese girl climbs up the hills at full speed and evades through miles of torii at the Fushimi Inari Taisha. Erected in 711, this Shinto sanctuary dedicates pilgrims' prayers to Inari, goddess of rice, crops and prosperity. Within the premises, thousands of wooden panels adorned with a fox head register passersby's dearest wishes. Moved by the hope of one day deserving this generous man's attention, the child seeks refuge by the vermillion gates. She enters a spiritual world and burst into a mix of joy and determination while running wild. Chiyo is no more. After a harsh and strenuous training, she makes way for one of the country's most influent and envied geishas, Sayuri. “When you fall, hold back the tears”.

Memoirs of a Geisha, directed by Rob Marshall (2005), with Zhang Ziyi, Suzuka Ohgo, Gong Li.

Fushimi Inari Taisha
Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
Kyoto Prefecture 612-0882
Japan

Discover our Kyoto/Osaka travel guide

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Cities behind the silver screen

Daytime disturbance in Rome's alleyways

Multi nominated and awarded, it seduced the audience with comic precision and skilful romantic tropes. While passing through the Seven Hills of Rome, Princess Ann wishes to break away from standards and obligations that preside over her daily life. The escapee then meets discourteous Joe Bradley, journalist looking for a scoop who seeks to take advantage of this fortuitous encounter when he learns about the runaway's true identity.
From freedom to abandonment, inflexibility to burlesque and on to off-screen, Audrey Hepburn meanders in Rome's alleyways, sharing a Vespa with her companion in misery. Bersaglieri soldiers parade at the double while she elegantly enters the Coliseum, cools off at Caffe Rocca on Piazza della Rotonda, speeds up to escape the police in front of Capitoline Hill, savours an ice cream at the Trevi Fountain and believes she let go of Gregory Peck's hand in the Bocca della Verità.

Roman Holiday, directed by William Wyler (1953), with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

Trevi Fountain
Piazza di Trevi
00187 Rome
Italy

Bocca della Verità
Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18
00186 Rome
Italy

Coliseum
Piazza del Colosseo, 1
00184 Rome
Italy

Capitoline Hill
Piazza del Campidoglio
00186 Rome
Italy

Discover our Rome travel guide

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Cities behind the silver screen

Risky whisper in the medina of Marrakech

As they sift through the Marrakech souk with an English couple, Benjamin McKenna, his wife Jo and their son Hank witness the murder of a French man they met only a few hours prior. In his last breath, Louis Bernard tells Doctor McKenna of a conspiracy against a Statesman in London. This is all Benjamin will get to know. As he tries to give a statement, conspirators kidnap his young boy to silence him. On the Moroccan market, the pounding of drums entrances passersby, Arab acrobats entertain the crowds and sewing machines hum in concert. The dice are cast. Hitchcock uses the city in the most ingenious way possible, halfway between dramatic tension and tart irony.

The Man Who Knew Too Much, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (1956), with James Stewart and Doris Day.

Marrakech souks
Derb Chtouka
40008 Marrakech
Morocco

Discover our Marrakech travel guide

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Cities behind the silver screen

Hanging from the slippery roofs of Montpellier

When a manic depressive meets a hit man in front of director Edouard Molinaro, a clash is to be expected between the two giants in the starring roles. Jacques Brel plays François Pignon and Lino Ventura Monsieur Milan. The first acts like he's in vaudeville, the other in a thriller. Comic situations are born from Francis Veber's 1971 screenplay and dialogue, colliding the characters in a hotel of the Comédie neighbourhood in Montpellier.
Milan's plan is to eliminate his “contract” through the window of his hotel bedroom, alas compromised by Pignon's unfortunate suicide attempt, he who cannot get over his wife leaving him. From that starting point, the movie then ventures to Castries, get on board in Saint-Jean-de-Védas and rolls up to Fabrègues. In the epic roof sequence, actors hang in turn to the cornice, before revealing a stunning view of the Porte du Peyrou triumphal arch and Palais de Justice city courthouse.

A Pain in the A.., directed by Édouard Molinaro (1973), with Lino Ventura and Jacques Brel.

Arc de triomphe
Rue Foch
34000 Montpellier

Cour d'appel de Montpellier
1, rue Foch
34000 Montpellier
France

Discover our Montpellier travel guide

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Cities behind the silver screen

Death as a present, from the United States to Mexico

In 1996, the deeply moving tragedy written by William Shakespeare comes alive on screen. The lovers of Verona take off for an underprivileged area of the American Continent, new fighting ground of the Montague and Capulet families. As festivities whip the Chapultepec Castle into a frenzy, Des'Ree's sultry voice sings Romeo and Juliet's unreasonable love that is about to bloom. “I'm kissing you.”
As drama takes shape, from Veracruz to Texcoco in the Mexico suburbs, the city of hope becomes the stage for brawls and murders between the two rival clans, destroying the feverish souls of their own children. The film's tragic violence was mimicked off screen, as a hurricane destroyed part of the stage during production. Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs; Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes; Being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears.”

Romeo + Juliette, directed by Baz Luhrmann (1996), with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.

Chapultepec Castle
Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc
11100 Mexico
Mexico

Discover our Mexico City travel guide