So you’re a huge fan of great fantasy and science fiction books and movies and you always wanted to see the places where the heroes lived and fought. But you thought the settings are either entirely fictional or produced using technology and special effects. This article won’t only show you that you’re wrong, but there is a quite large variety of places where blood was spilled, protagonists died, lifetime enemies were defeated and murdered or stunning discoveries were made.
Iceland is one of the most frequently used locations for the mise en scène of both science fiction and fantasy movies. If you’re a fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones (or even better, if you’re a reader of A Song of Ice and Fire), you probably already know what I’m talking about: the wall which separates Westeros from the wildling land of always winter seems to be taken straight from Iceland. On this one of the two continents the show is set on (the other one being named Essos) the optical and mechanical special effects are of no use, taking into consideration the climate of the land. Natural winter landscape in all its artistry, beautifully untouched and unexploited, creating the perfect outline for the action to take place. The same surroundings look totally different in Prometheus, representing the Primordial Earth.
And as the natural conditions make it almost unbearably cold, a visit in Iceland is always worth the freezing breath and shaking hands. The icy glacier on which Liam Neeson and Christian Bale (Batman) engage in a classic training, the post-apocalyptic, destroyed Earth in Oblivion and as the rumors have it – the second Thor movie to appear in November 2013 – use different areas in Iceland to shoot some of the scenes. Be it Svínafellsjökull instead of Tibet, Snæfellsjökull volcano, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon or Skógarfoss waterfall, Iceland is a commonly used setting for the fantasy and Sci Fi movies.
The Hogwarts express that Harry Potter takes from King’s Cross Station was shot at St. Pancras International Station. And because of the great number of fans visiting the place, the local authorities have also placed an inscription of Platform 9¾ . The Levitation classes that the little wizards and witches take during the first year with their goblin teacher Flitwick take place inside a classroom of Harrow School in Harrow on the Hill, 8 miles of London.
Of course, the mysterious corridors of Hogwarts have been shot on distinct places, such as Gloucester Cathedral, Durham Cathedral, Christ Church College in St. Aldate’s Oxford (the ceremony hall), while the exterior scenes where shot at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.
The quidditch grounds are in Glen Nevis, Fort William, Scotland and the Forbidden Forest is set in Black Park Iver, Buckinghamshire. Finally, the Hogsmate station is acutally Goathland Station in North Yorkshire, the pace where the rustic train makes the final stop on its way to Hogwarts. The Lord of the Rings trilogy uses, as well, some existing settings that are not very popular.
The portray of the Middle Earth is made integrating some forests and menacing towers along with special effects. For instance, the stronghold and tower from Isengard is, in fact, the tower in Birmingham. Also, some of Tolkien’s fantastic places have a real life correspondent.
Near Birmingham there was an area that pollution from the iron foundries, seel mills and coal mines made look very foggy, smoggy and dusty. In his trilogy, the place was named Mordor, since the name the locals gave it – Black Country – would have been too obvious. Another place that can be visited is the home land of Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbiton, placed in a rural farming area in New Zealand near a province named Matamata. The state’s government decided to leave the small fairy community undestroyed for the Lord of the Rings fans. Another construction that exists in real life and can be visited by all the ones who enjoy fantasy settings is Arkham Asylum. Of course, the shooting of Batman was made by using lots of special effects as well, the place being given a comic book look to make it seem entirely fantastic. The building is the former Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts. Even the inside settings of the place (depicted in the games as well) are inspired from the real construction.
Another fantastic world created in both games and movies is the story of Silent Hill. After the strip mine in Centralia, Pennsylvania caught fire and the population was evacuated, the place remained abandoned – with a strange, horror look like it was hunted and burning from within. Some of the landscapes and scenes didn’t even need special visual effects because of the terrifying look of the place – morbid and frightening. The place can be visited and it gives you the feeling of a post-apocalyptic setting.