Created By: PaulA on April 13, 2011 Last Edited By: PaulA on June 25, 2011

The Past Is Another Country

The place where the story is set no longer looks right, so it's filmed somewhere else that does.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A version of Location Doubling that isn't about saving money: The story is set in the past, and the place where it's set no longer looks right, so it has to be filmed somewhere different that does look right. For the medieval look, this often involves hauling off to Eastern Europe. Hungary and The Czech Republic are common locations.

(Despite the trope name, examples where filming was done in a different part of the same country also count. The motive for the change of location is the key thing.)

Examples

Film
  • Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist: Set in Victorian England, filmed in the Czech Republic.
  • Les MisÚrables, the 1998 film with Liam Neeson: Set in 19th-century France, filmed in the Czech Republic.
  • Cold Mountain: Set in America during the Civil War, filmed in Romania.
  • For The Babe, a biopic of Babe Ruth starring John Goodman, all the shots in Yankee Stadium were made at Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs) because it looked more like Yankee Stadium looked in the twenties than then-current Yankee Stadium did.
  • The 1955 film adaptation of Oklahoma! was filmed in Arizona because modern Oklahoma was too heavily farmed and developed.
  • Amadeus, the 1984 film adaptation: set in 18th-century Vienna, filmed in the Czech Republic.
  • The Illusionist: Set in 19th-century Austria, filmed in the Czech Republic.
  • Ravenous: Set in 19th-century California, filmed in the Czech Republic.
  • A Knight's Tale, set in medieval Europe (mainly France), was filmed in the Czech Republic.
  • The Holy City of Kairouan in Tunisia was the Raiders of the Lost Ark filming location for Cairo. Appropriately the town's name means "little Cairo". For filming the scenes on Sallah's terrace, 350 television antennas had to be removed from local buildings to present a 1930s skyline.
  • Many Russian historical movies set in Moscow couldn't be filmed in the very Soviet, concrete, metropolitan Moscow. Movies about Imperial Russia or Early Soviet period are usually filmed in the older districts of St. Petersburg, and Muscovite Russia (as in Ivan Vasilievich) in one of the ancient Golden Ring towns.

Live-Action TV
  • Cadfael: Set in medieval England, filmed in Hungary.
  • Although Doctor Who is made in Cardiff now, the first story actually set in Cardiff was filmed in Swansea for this reason.
  • Doctor Who again: "The Vampires of Venice" and "Vincent and the Doctor", set in 16th-century Venice and 19th-century France, were filmed back-to-back in Croatia.
  • Robin Hood: Set in medieval England, filmed in Hungary.
  • The Roman Mysteries Series: The Roman Empire era Italy is represented by Malta and Tunisia in the TV adaptation.
  • The parts of John Adams set in pre-Revolution France were filmed in Hungary.
  • Sharpe, set in Napoleonic-era Spain, was filmed in the Ukraine.

For discussion: Does it count if a film is shot in Eastern Europe for the medieval look but the location being doubled for is a Standard Fantasy Setting instead of a real historical place (Dungeons & Dragons, Dragonheart, the Discworld TV adaptations)?
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • April 14, 2011
    DragonQuestZ
    I thought this actually had to do with Time Travel.

    Eastern Europe Stands In For Old Europe is long, but clear.
  • April 15, 2011
    randomsurfer
    For a biopic of Babe Ruth starring John Goodman, all the shots in Yankee Stadium were made at Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs) because it looked more like Yankee Stadium looked in the twenties than then-current Yankee Stadium did.

    Y'know, I think this may have been in YKTTW before, I remember posting that example.
  • June 9, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    In answer to your discussion question, I would say no. New Zealand being used to film the fictional Gondor is quite another thing from Tunisia being used to represent Roman Empire era Italy.

    Also, for an example

    Live Action TV
  • June 9, 2011
    LeeM
    Oklahoma. Filmed in IIRC Kansas because modern Oklahoma no longer looked rural enough.
  • June 9, 2011
    cityofmist
    The Prestige is set in Victorian London, but was filmed in LA.
  • June 9, 2011
    Duncan
    TheCzechRepublic gets used for this a LOT. Amadeus, The Illusionist, Ravenous, and the aforementioned.
  • June 9, 2011
    ghaweyriao
    The parts of John Adams set in pre-Revolution France were filmed in Hungary.
  • June 9, 2011
    Generality
    A Knights Tale, set in medieval Europe (mainly France), was filmed in the Czech Republic.
  • June 9, 2011
    captainbrass2
    Sharpe, which is set in Napoleonic-era Spain, was filmed in the Ukraine.
  • June 9, 2011
    jaytee
    There's kind of a variant with the Spaghetti Western. They often filmed in Spain, not only because it was too expensive to relocate everyone to the American West, but also because it had the proper "look".
  • June 9, 2011
    Fanra
    The Holy City of Kairouan in Tunisia was the Raiders Of The Lost Ark filming location for Cairo. Appropriately the town's name means "little Cairo". For filming the scenes on Sallah's terrace, 350 television antennas had to be removed from local buildings to present a 1930s skyline.
  • June 9, 2011
    Generality
  • June 9, 2011
    GuesssWho
    The working title is to close to being a Stock Phrase
  • June 9, 2011
    Micah
    Tweak it to The Past In Another Country, maybe?
  • June 24, 2011
    PaulA
    ^^ That's kind of the point, right?
  • June 24, 2011
    aurora369
    Many Russian historical movies set in Moscow couldn't be filmed in the very Soviet, concrete, metropolitan Moscow. Movies about Imperial Russia or Early Soviet period are usually filmed in the older districts of St.Petersburg, and Muscovite Russia (as in Ivan Vasilievich) in one of the ancient Golden Ring towns. Not another country, but Russia is varied enough even without that.
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