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The 70th Cannes Film Festival has begun. As film stars, screenwriters and directors converge on this glamorous French port, we bring you a selection of classic films that will inspire your European trip.
Hailed as Federico Fellini’s finest work, the action, intrigue and existentialist struggles of La Dolce Vita take place over seven days in and around the beautiful city of Rome. Famous scenes were shot at the Trevi Fountain, the Baths of Caracalla and many of the piazzas in the city as well as in Vatican City. La Dolce Vita won La Palme D’Or – the highest prize – at Cannes in 1960 and is regarded as one of the finest classic films of all time.
The James Bond Films are known for their glamorous locations. Venice has changed little since its first James Bond airing in From Russia with Love. Bond travels to Amsterdam to meet contact Tiffany Case in Diamonds are Forever, he is back in Venice for Moonraker and Quantum of Solace and drives a tank through St. Petersburg in GoldenEye. Finally, among many memorable locations in Spectre, the Rome scenes offer a whistle-stop tour of this dramatic city.
Set on the beautiful Ionian Island of Cephalonia, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a love story which led many people to fall in love with the location. The simple beauty of this small Greek island is the backdrop to wartime drama and romance and it is the location shots that make the film memorable.
This delightful film, starring the elfin Audrey Tatou, is an homage to Paris. The title character Amelie lives and works in Paris and is a waitress in Cafe des Deux Moulins – a real Paris café. Controversially, it wasn’t selected for a screening at Cannes; a decision that has perhaps been regretted, as this is a much-loved film, both by critics and the public.
A list of top European films is not complete without the inclusion of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother) is lovingly shot in Barcelona and won Almodovar the Best Director award at Cannes in 1999. The most successful Spanish film ever, with themes of family and sisterhood, it takes in familiar landmarks such as La Sagrada Familia as well as typical Barcelona backstreets.
Staying in Barcelona, one of Woody Allen’s European films, Vicky Cristina Barcelona premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and has been critically acclaimed as one of his best. Its sense of place, in the one-of-a-kind city of Barcelona, carries throughout, with lingering shots of the distinctive Gaudi architecture. The Catalonian culture and climate are captured beautifully and it makes you want to be there to soak it all up.
What connects our movies is the lavish attention they give to location and this Merchant-Ivory classic is no exception. It is hard not to fall in love with Florence as Lucy and George kiss against the Florence skyline – that view! With a stellar British cast that includes Helena Bonham Carter, Dame Maggie Smith and Denholm Elliott, this is a stunning film that showcases Florence as a stunning city.
Cinema Paradiso is a film about films. It is also a film about the power of dreams; a modern classic that won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 1989. Set in Sicily, it centres around the friendship of an old cinema projectionist and his young protégé. Much of the action was filmed in Palazzo Adriano, a small, typically Sicilian village with a plaza, 30 miles south of Palermo.
The black and white classic, Wild Strawberries, takes us over to Northern Europe, on the Stockholm archipelago in Sweden. This drama, directed by Ingmar Bergman, is the story of a man exploring his past. Fittingly, the original Swedish title, Smultronstället, which literally translates as ‘wild strawberry patch’, is a Swedish idiom for an underrated gem of a place. Which is a great description of the scattered islands of Swedish Archipelago!
Where better to finish our cinematic tour of Europe than Cannes? To Catch a Thief, Alfred Hitchcock’s light hearted thriller, was filmed on location in the South of France – and distils the very essence of Cannes glamour. The open topped car in the Riviera hills, the beautiful people, the sparkle of sea, sunshine and sapphires are pure Cote D’Azur. And with Hollywood royalty Cary Grant and Grace Kelly leading the cast, this classic film is a pure delight.
These films evoke the glamour, the beauty and the spirit of a Europe that we have in all our dreams. Make the journey on a Celebrity cruise and take in the best of cinematic Europe as the Cannes Film Festival celebrates its 70th birthday. Feeling inspired to visit the festival itself?
In such a richly diverse country, where do you start? We’ve put together our top picks to help inspire your next Italian cruise.
Athens is packed full of world-class galleries as well as outdoor sculptures and art boutiques. Find out more here.
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