Postcard Press Picks Movie Club:
What to Watch Before Going to London (That Isn’t Harry Potter)
I love movies, and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. When you don’t have the money to travel, movies and TV can be a wonderful gateway to seeing the world and learning a bit about it. My Shakespeare professor felt the same way. Before I went to London for my study abroad, he gave us a list of movies to watch before leaving. Each movie would give the students an opportunity to learn about the city and its sites before we even got on the plan. And yes, Harry Potter is fine… I’m just being my cheeky self.
Try as I might, I can’t find that list anywhere, so I’m making my own!
Plot-wise, these two movies have nothing in common. One is a classic ‘90s romcom with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, and the other is a period drama about the mixed-race daughter of a navy general. However, both films were filmed in and around the Kenwood House, which is an amazing, historical mansion located in Hampstead Heath.
Built sometime in the 1700s, the Kenwood house was passed to many different families during its lifetime, each one bringing something new to the property. Kenwood House is a gorgeous golden gem of London’s historical sites. The home features a large art collection, a cafe, and plenty of gardens for you to explore during your visit.
And Notting Hill also features many other incredible London landmarks that you can read about here.
A Hard Day’s Night
It would be wrong to make this list and not include The Beatles’ first movie. Thought the group was born and raised in Liverpool, they spent a lot of their time in London–where Abbey Road Studios still operates today. The movie follows the band on what is considered a “normal” day in their lives and features several of their greatest hits.
If you’re a fan of The Beatles and Mod-Era England, then this is a movie that needs to be on your watch list.
A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange doesn’t really have a lot to do with the history of London or any of its historic locations. There are some filming locations you can find in the city, but the reason I’m including it on the list is that it’s an important piece of English cinema (though director Stanley Kubrick was American).
This pick isn’t right for everyone, and that’s okay. The movie was banned in the country for about 30 years due to the content and influence it may have had on the nation’s youth. It’s an interesting, if not extreme, look at the opposing politics and underground culture in England during the 1960s. I could go on and on about that, but this isn’t my future dissertation.
Looking past some of the problematic aspects of the movie, Love Actually has become a bit of a holiday classic with an all-star cast. So, if you’re planning your trip to England during Christmas and New Year’s (that’s when I want to go next), this is a great movie to watch in preparation. There’s even a great travel guide to London based on the movie, so check it out! Although, I do encourage everyone to explore the city outside of where their favorite English movies were filmed.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
I actually almost forgot all about Four Weddings and a Funeral even though it’s up there with Love Actually and Notting Hill when it comes to London landmarks.
London is my favorite city in the world and so many great movies have been filmed in and around the city. If I forgot to include your favorite or you have suggestions for more movie lists, leave a comment below and let us know!