16 films that you might not know were made in Devon
- Credit: Archant
Whether it’s on our beautiful beaches, in our magnificent moors or within our stunning stately homes, film productions are constantly setting up in Devon. Here are 16 that you might not know used the county as a filming location
1) Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
This time-bending Tom Cruise blockbuster sees the human race locked in a battle against an advanced alien race and to retake mainland Europe, humans launch a massive assault on Normandy’s beaches. For wide shots of this invasion, Saunton Sands – home to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Braunton Burrows - was used to demonstrate the scale and carnage of the attack.
2) The Mercy (2018)
To tell the story of Donald Crowhurst – an amateur sailor whose solo attempt to sail around the world went disastrously wrong – this biographical drama was shot in Teignmouth, the same location that Crowhurst departed from. Most of the film was made in the South Devon fishing port to show Crowhurst’s preparations in his vessel, the Teignmouth Electron.
3) Sense and Sensibility (1995)
A number of locations throughout Devon welcomed this period drama starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet as the county was used for many of the film’s main settings. Saltram House, the Flete Estate and Efford House were filming locations near Plymouth while the production rolled into Berry Pomeroy for the final wedding scene.
4) A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
In 2004 this fantasy-romance set during WWII was voted as the second best British film ever made. The beach that RAF pilot Peter Carter wakes up on after his Lancaster goes down is actually Saunton Sands, a sequence that looks even better following a digital restoration shown in cinemas at the end of 2017.
5) Barry Lyndon (1975)
For the castle belonging to Lord Bullingdon, Stanley Kubrick took this period drama to Compton Castle, a fortified manor house a couple miles northwest of Paignton that is now owned by the National Trust. This wouldn’t be the last film that Compton Castle would appear in, however, as it later popped up in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility.
6) My Cousin Rachel (2017)
Although the book on which this romantic-drama is based on takes place largely in Cornwall, the Flete Estate in the South Hams was used for key scenes portraying Rachel and Philip’s growing relationship. Stars Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin were spotted on the estate’s Mothecombe Beach back in 2016 as they rode horses in the sand while in full period garb.
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7) Dark Shadows (2012)
This horror-comedy starring Johnny Depp sees an 18th century family move from Liverpool to America to set up a new fishing town, Collinsport. Although director Tim Burton decided not to use one of Devon’s many coastal villages for this key location, Great Mattiscombe Sands near Start Point was used for a scene where Depp – playing vampire Barnabas Collins – takes a stroll below the cliffs.
8) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (2018)
To portray a street in Nazi-occupied Guernsey, Bideford was transformed with Swastikas hanging from walls and images of Adolf Hitler hung above shop windows. As well as Bideford, Saunton Sands was used as a makeshift WWII-era runway while scenes were also shot in Hartland and Clovelly. The people of Devon also feature in the film as dozens of local extras were used to bring this story of an eccentric, unsanctioned book club to life.
9) War Horse (2012)
To tell his adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel about one man’s attempt to get his horse home safely from WWI, Steven Spielberg used a number of locations throughout Dartmoor. When speaking about his filming locations such as Ditsworthy Warren, Combestone Tor and Ringmoor Down, Spielberg said he had ‘never been gifted such an abundance of natural beauty’.
10) The Cruel Sea (1953)
Plymouth Naval Dockyard – otherwise known as HMNB Devonport - was used to portray Liverpool’s docks in this little known WWII adventure telling the story of British sailors who served in convoy escorts. Starring Donald Sinden and Jack Hawkins, the film also showed a warship crashing on the Tamar.
11) Churchill: The Hollywood Years (2004)
This satire from Devon-born director Peter Richardson pokes fun at the way Hollywood has largely neglected the role of the British Army in WWII by entirely replacing Winston Churchill with a stereotypical macho marine played by Christian Slater. The majority of the film was produced in Devon as the production rolled in to Oldway Mansion in Paignton, Cockington, Buckfastleigh, Powderham Castle and Plymouth among others.
12) The Remains of the Day (1993)
Adapted from the 1989 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, Anthony Hopkins plays a butler who realises that his decades of work have been in service of a lord with sympathies towards the Nazi regime. Powderham Castle in Kenton near Exeter was one of many appropriately grand locations across Britain that were used to put together one coherent image of Darlington Hall. Keep an eye out for the staircase, hall and music room of Darlington Hall as that’ll actually be Powderham you’re seeing.
13) Pink Floyd – The Wall (1982)
As you might expect for a film accompanying the band’s iconic album, this live-action/animated musical drama is brimming with surreal imagery and unusual metaphors. In an explosive flashback showing the death of the main character’s father during the WWII landings at Anzio, you’ll be able to spot the familiar topography of Saunton Sands.
14) A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Around 500 fans turned out at Newton Abbot train station as the Fab Four arrived during filming of this musical comedy that gives a fictional insight into their lives at the height of Beatlemania. Many of the film’s scenes took place on a train and its stops were initially supposed to remain secret. Word soon got out, however, and the area was flooded with fans.
15) Remembrance (1982)
Even though this drama is little remembered nowadays, it was actually one of the first roles for British actors that would go on to great careers including Gary Oldman, Timothy Spall and John Altman. Director Colin Gregg came up with the idea for the film while studying at Plymouth Art College and scenes depicting a group of sailors’ last days on land were shot at The Phoenix and The Two Trees pubs as well as the New Continental Hotel.
16) Revolution (1985)
Starring Al Pacino, Donald Sutherland and Natassja Kinski, the foundations for this historical drama set during the American Revolutionary War were incredibly solid but sadly everything on top was poorly constructed. The film was panned by critics and is probably only worth watching to see Burrator Reservoir during the estuary scenes.
Now would be the perfect time to take our quiz on films made in Devon!