The history of this ancient town, situated near Chengdu, stretches back over 1,700 years, with many of the buildings dating from the Qing Dynasty. The curving cobbled alleys, rustic houses and impressive temples – such as Zhenjiang Temple and Gulong Temple – have appealed to filmmakers, who have used Huanglongxi for exterior scenes in many period movies. Among the most famous of these is Ang Lee’s 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards - winning four.
Popeye Village, Malta
Built in Anchor Bay especially for the 1980 live-action film Popeye starring Robin Williams, Popeye Village consists of a number of rustic-looking buildings, which wouldn’t look out of place in the Popeye comic strip! Depicted as Sweethaven Village in the film, the village has been preserved over the last three decades, and is now an open-air museum about the film and its production. The film itself received mixed reviews upon release, but its setting is still a popular tourist attraction. Malta has been the setting for more than a hundred feature films since 1925, including The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Troy (2004).
You are more likely to recognise the gardens of this 17th century palace, as they were used in the 1965 musical, The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. It is here that Maria and the children sing Do-Re-Mi, running around the fountain and using the steps as they sing the different notes of the scale – and you may be tempted to re-enact the scene if you visit! The film won five Academy Awards, and fans still flock to this site, but the gardens and palace itself are steeped in fascinating history and certainly worth exploring.
The search for the Holy Grail in Stephen Spielberg’s 1989 action film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade concludes in the beautiful rose-red city of Petra. Here, the titular character enters the Al Khazneh, or Treasury, which has one of the most breathtaking facades in this ancient Edomite city that was carved into the sandstone over 2,400 years ago. Only accessed through a narrow chasm in the rock, the city of Petra never fails to impress those who visit.
Jaipur and Udaipur, India
Timeless India is the setting for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) and its 2015 sequel, a visit here provides the opportunity to soak up the incredible atmosphere, as well as see a number of locations related to the film. In Jaipur, you can visit the 19th-century Kanota Castle, a grand building recalling the days of the Raj and depicted as the Viceroy Club in the film. You can continue to Udaipur, where you can explore Chandpur where the market scenes were filmed, and head into the Rajasthani countryside to Ravla Khempur – which was Soony Kapoor’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in the film.
Several high-profile movies have been filmed in Tunisia, including the 1996 romantic drama The English Patient, which won nine Academy Awards. El Djem’s UNESCO-protected amphitheatre can be seen in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian (1979) and the 2000 film Gladiator, which won five Academy Awards. Fans of the Star Wars franchise will enjoy visiting Tozeur as the Lars Homestead and Mos Espa sets were located nearby, while Chott El Jerid provided the location for the Tatooine desert.
David Lean’s 1957 Academy Award winning World War II drama The Bridge on the River Kwai was filmed mostly near Kiulgala in Ceylon, despite the film being set in Thailand. The concrete foundations of the film set stand as lasting reminders of the film, just as the spectacular scene as the bridge is blown up has remained an iconic moment in film history. In 2014, it was announced that the bridge set would be rebuilt using original drawings and photos.