Big Ben in film: Top 5

Adam Brannon HeadshotBy Adam Brannon. Big Ben has been standing alongside the Houses of Parliament since 1859 and has become a symbol of the UK’s incredible engineering talents.

So when news broke on August 14th 2017 that its bells would fall silent for four years whilst necessary maintenance was carried out, it was met with a degree of sadness from the British community. In fact, the news was reported across the globe, showing just how important a landmark the clocktower actually is, not just to people living in the UK, but by fans of our history too.

This got me thinking, how many films has Big Ben featured in, and more importantly, has it ever featured in any truly amazing sequences in films well-received by viewers and critics alike. So, with that in mind, I decided to trawl through the archives and count down the top 5 scenes featuring the gargantuan timepiece.

5) Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins at Big Ben

Photo by Disney.

Ah, Mary Poppins. Still to this day it remains one of Disney’s hottest properties. So much so that Emily Blunt is currently filming Mary Poppins Returns, the sequel to the 1964 masterpiece.

Alongside Dick Van Dyke’s dreadful British accent, the film features another UK staple in film, Big Ben. As Julie Andrews’ titular character is gliding along, black umbrella in hand, she flies straight past the iconic landmark in a scene that has become nearly as well-known as the film itself.

4) Peter Pan

Peter Pan at Big Ben

Picture by Disney.

The 50s were good to Disney. They released five of their greatest animated films in that decade alone. With classics like Lady and the Tramp, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty jostling for attention, it would take a near-masterpiece to pull focus.

Thankfully, Peter Pan remains one of the best films from the House of Mouse. With stunning animation and a story with real emotional resonance, it’s a must-watch for parents and children alike.

Of course, seeing the main characters standing atop Big Ben and walking along the clock face’s hands is a scene that remains with you even after the film has ended. The backlighting from the clock itself looks almost lunar and is breath-taking in every sense of the word.

3) The Great Mouse Detective

The Great Mouse Detective

Picture by Disney.

Ah Disney, you do love Big Ben don’t you? This personal favourite of mine and a largely forgotten film from Disney’s back catalogue is more British than a crumpet tea party and is an incredibly dark adaptation of the Basil of Baker Street children’s books by Eve Titus.

The climactic scene in which our titular hero battles the villainous Professor Ratigan (he’s a rat, get it) atop Big Ben is terrifying and mesmerising in equal measure. It’s a truly horrific sequence made all the more awful by its excessive length.

Scared for life is not the word. The Great Mouse Detective is worth a watch for its take on the Queen alone.

2) V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta

Photo by Warner Bros.

A truly underrated British film featuring talent like Stephen Fry and Natalie Portman. Following world war, London is a police state occupied by a fascist government, and a vigilante uses terrorist tactics to fight the oppressors of the world in which he now lives.

It’s as bombastic as it sounds and a great one to watch on Bonfire Night in the UK. With its impressive special effects and exceptional sequence showing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament being obliterated, it certainly deserves a silver medal here.

1) Reign of Fire

Reign of Fire

Photo by Touchstone Pictures.

Dragons and destruction. What more could you want? Reign of Fire is another underrated flick that’s actually great fun and filled with pretty good special effects. There are also some cracking performances from Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey.

But the pièce de résistance is the wide, landscape shot of a totally destroyed London being surrounded by you guessed it, dragons. The eerily quiet cityscape is incredibly well put together with Big Ben’s hollow shell rising above everything. Stunning.

Do you think there’s an appearance that should have made the list? Leave a comment in the box below. I reply to them all.

Atomic Blonde review “Say hello to Mrs John Wick”

Adam Brannon HeadshotDavid Leitch is one of the most exciting film-makers of the current crop of directors working today. His brilliant John Wick reignited Keanu Reeves’ career in spectacular fashion and he’s worked behind-the-scenes on films like Captain America: Civil War and Jurassic World.

Just this year he signed on to direct Deadpool 2 after Tim Miller’s sudden departure. In the meantime, he’s treating us to another adults-only thriller, Atomic Blonde. But is this Charlize Theron-led vehicle as good as his previous work? Continue reading

Kinema in the Woods: Unique Cinemas

Kinema in the WoodsNestled in the award-winning Lincolnshire village of Woodhall Spa sits Kinema in the Woods, a cinema with a fascinating history trying to keep up with the big boys like VUE and Odeon.

But this is Unique Cinemas territory so you know you’re not just going to get that run-of-the-mill experience we all know and love. Kinema is up there as one of the best experiences you’ll ever have watching a film. What can you expect? Adam Brannon went along to a screening of Dunkirk to find out. Continue reading

Dunkirk review “A triumph”

Adam Brannon HeadshotBrutal. Spectacular. Emotional. These are just some of the adjectives you could use to describe Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Dunkirk. The director of Inception, The Dark Knight, Memento and Interstellar is one of the greatest film-makers working today and he raises the bar once again with this bleak tale from World War II.

With war, you have to respect the past whilst allowing modern-day film-goers to truly understand the brutality that ordinary people like you and I went through on a daily basis. Continue reading

Cinema Manager of the Month: Kinema in the Woods

Kinema in the WoodsForeword by Adam Brannon. I’m searching for unusual cinemas across the country. Picture houses that offer something a little different than what our biggest chains give their customers. Philip Jones, manager of Kinema in the Woods in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire spoke to me about his role and what makes his establishment so special.

I was lucky enough to be invited by Philip to Kinema to attend a screening of Christopher Nolan’s upcoming war epic, Dunkirk. You can read about my experiences right here on Movie Metropolis next weekend.

In the first article of this series, I visited the Moonlight Drive-In whilst it visited Hull. It goes to show if you look hard enough, there are some great cinemas out there offering something completely unique. Continue reading