IT’S not often you hear of a 169-year-old movie star, but Hollywood blockbuster Cloud Atlas sees Edinburgh’s Scott Monument take centre stage.
The movie adaptation of David Mitchell’s bestselling book, which stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw and James D’Arcy, went on general release in the UK yesterday, and has already grossed more than $100 million worldwide.
The film is set to showcase one of the city’s most striking attractions and is also expected to attract other filmmakers to the Capital.
Written and directed by the Wachowskis, who also brought The Matrix trilogy to our screens, the movie blends several different but interconnecting storylines over a period of 500 years.
One section of the novel which was previously set in Bruges has been transferred to Edinburgh for the film.
Cindy Thomson, the supervising location manager for Cloud Atlas, said: “The scriptwriters were looking around for places to film and once they saw how much potential Edinburgh had I think it all just came together.
“One of the main requirements of the script was that they needed a large monument with great views, but that also had a viewing platform where two people could potentially be without actually being aware of each other. We looked at a lot of places – St Mary’s Cathedral, St Giles’ Cathedral, even up on Calton Hill – but the Scott Monument seemed like the perfect location.
“We used lots of other locations while we were here – St Ninian’s Row, Victoria Terrace and the City Chambers courtyard. The Scott Monument is the only location in the film which isn’t doubling for anything else – it’s ‘playing itself’, so to speak.”
Cloud Atlas is the latest movie to be filmed in the Capital, with Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share featuring scenes in the city and Ian Rankin adaptation Doors Open, starring Stephen Fry, also shot here.
Rosie Ellison, film liaison manager at Edinburgh Film Focus, said: “More and more filmmakers are choosing to come to Scotland because of the sheer variety of locations we can offer. For Cloud Atlas, we could offer them the Scott Monument plus the cobbled streets and fantastic historical architecture of Edinburgh, while just down the M8 in Glasgow the grid system made the city a near-perfect double for San Francisco.
“Having seen the film I have to say I was very pleased at the number of times Edinburgh is mentioned in it. When you consider that we also have Filth, Sunshine on Leith, Under the Skin and The Railway Man, which were all shot here, still to come this year, I think this will be great for the city.”
Ms Thomson added: “I’m from here so obviously I’ll be a bit biased, but one thing that the crew coming to work here were particularly impressed with was how well all the different organisations, such as Film Focus, the council and the police, worked together to help filming go as smoothly as possible. No doubt word will spread that this really is the place to come.”
Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s culture and sport convener, said: “The breathtaking views of Edinburgh from the Scott Monument are second to none and I hope that, having watched the film, people are inspired to climb the 287 steps to the top.”
To mark the movie’s release, anyone taking a ticket for the film to the Scott Monument will get half-price entry until the end of March. Similarly, from tomorrow until Thursday the Cameo is offering 50p off a full-price ticket to the film to anyone with a used Scott Monument ticket.