This year’s Oscars ceremony, the 88th edition of the Academy Awards, will be held on Sunday, 28th February in Los Angeles. Year after year, judges assess and award prizes for every aspect of a film, from the script, to directing, camera work, leading and supporting actors, costume design, makeup, the soundtrack… But there is one essential feature that doesn’t usually get recognised, yet it is central to the film and its context and conjures various emotions in the viewer…the location.
Out of Ferrovial’s projects worldwide, here are nine that are used as unforgettable film locations.
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
Location: Plaza de España in Seville
Both the north and south towers in Seville’s Plaza de España were restored by Ferrovial between 2008 and 2009. Since being built for the Spanish-American Exhibition of 1929, this square has lived through some great moments. One of these as location for the Lawrence of Arabia motion picture, when it was transformed into the English officers’ club in Cairo, featuring Peter O’Toole, the leading actor, going into the building.
Did you know that 800 people from Seville worked as extras in the film? The story goes that very few of these knew the true story of Thomas Edward Lawrence (the real Lawrence of Arabia), so they were told that it was the bullfighter of the day, Antonio Ordóñez, who was arriving in the same car as the English officers. This was the only way to get them cheering loudly enough!
The flower of my secret (Pedro Almodóvar, 1995)
Location: Casa de la Panaderia, Madrid’s Plaza Mayor
The marital problems of the romantic author Leo Macías (Marisa Paredes) are probably what’s preventing her from writing the three romantic novels a year that her publishing contract demands: all she is capable of producing is a dark novel. Spoiler! In fact, the murder of Penelope Cruz’s husband in the film Volver is the plot of one of Leo’s black novels.
In the film, while Leo is trying to win back her husband (an army officer who spends long periods away from home), she meets Angel (Juan Echanove), a childhood friend, who suggests she write for the cultural supplement of the newspaper he works for. This encounter stirs up feelings in both of them, and may be just what Leo needs to end her emotional and professional crisis. Almodóvar chose the night-time emptiness of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor as the setting for Angel to remind Leo of the first time they met, and this is where we can see the couple strolling along with the Casa de la Panadería behind them. This building (“the Bakery”) was designed by the architect Diego Sillero in 1590 and was the first to go up in the square. Somewhat more recently, Ferrovial worked to restore this iconic feature of the Plaza Mayor and of the city of Madrid as a whole
James Bond, The World is Not Enough (Michael Apted, 1999)
Location: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
In this nineteenth film in the 007 secret agent series, James Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan, travels to Bilbao for a meeting in the offices of “La Banque Suisse de l’Industrie (Privée)”, in a building just opposite the Guggenheim Museum’s Puppy. Here, a stunning-looking woman hands Bond a receipt, to which Bond cannot resist making a comment on round figures – directed at more than the receipt.
The encounter ends in a spectacular escape via a window on a flimsy rope, with Bond being pursued by the Ertzaintza itself (the Basque police), from which he emerges of course unscathed and unruffled, blending in with visitors to the Guggenheim Museum, one of the most iconic projects to be completed by Ferrovial Agroman. Opened in 1997 by Juan Carlos I, Spain’s former king, it is today an excellent example of 20th century architecture.
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (George Lucas, 2002)
Location: Plaza de España, Seville
Another appearance for Seville’s Plaza de España, this time featuring for a whole two minutes as the city of Theed, capital of Naboo planet in the Star Wars saga. Following various assassination attempts on Padmé Naberrie (Natalie Portman), young Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen) is entrusted with the mission of protecting the new senator and escorting her to her planet of birth, together with R2D2.
Filming took place over only two days, but mobilised more than 7,000 ambitious Sevillians who turned up to try and secure a coveted part as an extra… or at least an autograph. In the end, only 50 people were chosen to walk about in the scene dressed as citizens of Naboo.
Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003)
Location: Heathrow Airport, London
Heathrow Airport, Europe’s greatest hub, is an essential location in one of the ultimate romantic comedies of all time: Love Actually.
Did you know that the scenes at the arrivals hall are actually real? The scenes where passengers walk through the arrivals gate to be greeted and embraced by friends and loved ones were filmed at the airport with hidden cameras over the space of a week to give the movie a more authentic and emotional feel. On the DVD version of the film, the scriptwriter and director Richard Curtis explains how a member of the team had to run over and get permission to include a certain episode in the movie every time they thought they had captured something special. And at another point in the film, Heathrow Airport was again used as the scene of Sam’s (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) – stepson of Daniel (Liam Neeson) – first kiss on Christmas Eve.
The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2007)
Location: Heathrow Airport, London, and Atocha train station, Madrid
If you haven’t seen the film, be warned that this might be a spoiler! In the third film of the Bourne saga, Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon, continues his quest to find the agents who stole his identity and murdered the love of his life. In this new chapter, London and Madrid are two of the locations in the film. In England there’s Waterloo station, St Paul’s Cathedral, the underground, and Heathrow Airport’s terminal 2.
In Madrid, Bourne’s search takes him to Atocha station, amongst other places. And when he travels to Turin, he is actually in the Café del Príncipe in Canalejas square, very close to Plaza Mayor (Madrid)!
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)
Location: Park Güell (Parc Güell) in Barcelona
In 1995, Ferrovial was awarded the Europa Nostra prize for the restoration of Park Güell, the location for the casual encounter between Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Standing in front of the stairs of Antoni Gaudí’s famous salamander fountain, he explains why he never called after the trip to Asturias. Funnily enough, the sound of water from the fountain made it difficult to record the conversation, and the water flow had to be reduced to a minimum. Due to Woody Allen’s enormous pulling power, shooting on location in Barcelona was extremely complicated. People flocked to where the filming crew were, creating large crowds and noise – there were even those who thought nothing of climbing up the street lamps to get a better view!
Did you know that the main song used in the film was not in the original plans? Giulia y los Tellarini, a group from Barcelona, left a CD with some of their songs for Woody Allen in the Hotel Arts where he was staying. To their surprise, he got the CD, listened to it, and liked it so much that he decided to include it in the soundtrack.
Fast and Furious 6 (Justin Lin, 2013)
Location: Road from Adeje to Santiago del Teide in Tenerife
Vin Diesel and Paul Walker drove all the way to Tenerife to film one of the most spectacular scenes in the sixth film of the Fast and Furious series. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is involved in a chase with an army tank along theTF1 motorway, built by Ferrovial in the south of Tenerife. To cut him off and prevent his escape, the tank fires at a bridge to block the road with chunks of concrete debris . The magic of special effects and 250 feet of detonation cord made it possible to blow up one of the overhead bridges crossing the largest motorway in the Canary Islands. Luckily, Dominic Toretto narrowly avoids being hit by a lump of concrete – in reality made from lightweight plaster – and getting crushed to death in the process.
Amantes pasajeros (Pedro Almodóvar, 2013)
Location: Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport
Amantes Pasajeros (which could be translated as Fleeting Lovers) is a surreal story around the crew and passengers on a flight to Mexico City, set inside a plane. Before take-off, Almodovar shows us one of Ferrovial’s projects: the runways of Barajas Airport’s Terminal 4, with a cameo appearance by two of his favourite actors: Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz. In this short scene, León (Banderas) and Jéssica (Cruz) start flirting, so much so that Jéssica – who is driving the baggage trolley – almost runs over a colleague who ends up smothered with suitcases.
There is another short cameo in the film from Almodóvar’s producer brother Agustín – typical in his movies– this time acting as a Mexican air traffic controller.