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5 Film locations you can actually visit

1 March 2019

It's awards season once again, and while we can't offer you any shiny gongs, red carpets or swanky after parties, what we CAN do is direct you to some of the most cinematic locations that you may just recognize from the big screen, so grab the popcorn and get holiday planning!

The Empire Strikes Back - Norway

It's March 1979 and on a sparsely populated icy plain near the quiet Norwegian village of Finse, Hollywood stars Mark Hammill and Harrison Ford are preoccupied with leading the Rebel Army in defense of their base, currently under barrage from a squadron of 20-metre tall Empire AT-AT walkers. Filming for the much-anticipated Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is well under way. Creator George Lucas has chosen this Scandinavian snow-field to double up as the icy planet of Hoth. The Empire Strikes Back would later go on to hold a position amongst the most critically acclaimed films of all time and now, 40 years on, there is no better time to revisit the village of Finse.

Board the iconic Oslo to Bergen line, and you'll cross this snow-covered expanse along the way, passing over the same spot that was once a hub of Hollywood activity; undulating hills once populated by braying Tauntauns and bustling film crews, where snow speeders zipped past overhead and some of cinema's most iconic characters continued their story in a galaxy far, far away. The Line has been dubbed as one of the best in Europe, crossing over the stunning Hardangervidda Plateau and stopping at the country's most elevated train station.

The Little Mermaid - Lake Geneva

Château de Chillon rises dramatically from the waters of Lake Geneva, against a backdrop of breathtaking mountain scenery. This 13th century Gothic château is built on a rocky island on the edge of Lake Geneva, connected to the shore by a wooden drawbridge, and is considered to be one of Europe's best-preserved medieval castles.

The fortified château was where the famous Swiss patriot, political activist and historian François Bonivard was imprisoned and held in chains for four years. His incarceration inspired Lord Byron to compose his famous poem 'The Prisoners of Chillon' but that's not it's only claim to fame. In 1989, Disney were scouting for inspiration for their re-telling of Hans Christian Anderson's famous fairytail (excuse the pun) when they came across this lakeside gem. To them, the château's architecture perfectly encapsulated the turmoil at the heart of the story, a meeting of two worlds where the land ends and water begins.

Jaws - Martha's Vineyard

Now for a film that's made everyone who's watched it over the past 44 question whether they'll ever get into the water again. Jaws. Set in the fictional town of Amity, producers needed to find a substitute destination that could fill in as the perfect American seaside location, until it all goes wrong of course. Step in Martha's Vineyard.  The largest offshore island in New England, it boasts undulating hills and verdant pastures - in addition to its charming shoreline - also packing an enviable diversity into its diminutive area. The island was inhabited by First Nation Americans during the 16th century, before the arrival of English explorer, Bartholomew Gosnold, who supposedly named the site after his daughter - Martha. Over the following centuries, it developed as a favourite holiday spot for wealthy New Englanders and despite its gory subject matter, Jaws actually helped boost tourism revenue to the area! Do you dare take a dip this July 4th?

Rain Man - Las Vegas

"Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada" reads the famous neon signs that surrounds the city, and fabulous it certainly is. Las Vegas is probably one of the most spectacular cities in the world, and one that is ever-changing to keep up with the times. An endless drive for novelty means that no two visits are the same and, incredibly, Nevada was the first state to ban gambling, in 1909.

However, it was legalised again in 1931, drawing in the hundreds of workers who built the Hoover Dam, which was in part responsible for the boom that saw the city grow so rapidly during the middle of the 20th century.

Being so well known as a destination for hedonism, Las Vegas has been the backdrop to many a blockbuster; Ocean's 11, 12 & 13, the Hangover, and Casino to name but a few. But our favourite has to be Oscar winner, Rain Man. Ultimately a story about redemption and the importance - as well as the struggles - of adult fraternal relationships, the infamous Caesar's Palace hotel on the Vegas Strip is where one of the movie's most heartwarming scenes takes place. At first the audience worries that Charlie (played by Tom Cruise) is taking advantage of Raymond's (Dustin Hoffman's) unique abilities, but the moment they start dancing in their hotel suite is touching enough to melt any cynic's heart.

Tomb Raider - Cambodia

Cambodia, in South East Asia, is a country of exceptional beauty. Golden beaches line its southern coastline while the mountains to the north are home to spectacular lakes and waterfalls. The areas in between are dedicated to wild jungle and rice paddies, with the country's capital, Phnom Penh, relishing in a kind of chaotic charm. But it is often the city of Siem Reap to which visitors flock, given the fact that it is the gateway to the largest temple on Earth, Angkor Wat.

Whether you're a fan or not, no one can argue that Tomb Raider wasn't a seminal 90s video game that spawned a classic female action star, as well as a long-lasting fan base and plenty of spin offs - one of which was the 2001 film featuring Hollywood royalty, Angelina Jolie. But the breakout star of the movie had to be beautiful Cambodia, just one of the worldwide locations Lara jets to in her hunt for the clandestine Illuminati. With much of the two-week shoot taking place within the temple complex of Angkor Wat itself, global audiences were finally introduced to this eerily striking jungle destination. Despite the crew being in the area for just two weeks, their work had a profound effect on local life, with residents cast as extras and a huge influx of money going directly towards maintaining and repairing Angkor Wat. And nearly 18 years on, you can still walk into nearly any bar in Siem Reap and order a 'Tomb Raider' cocktail - a blend of Cointreau, soda and lime said to be Angelina Jolie's favorite drink during filming.

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