24 September 2016

Mont-Saint-Michel, France

When a massive meteor is threatening to destroy the world in the movie ARMAGEDDON the American president (Stanley Anderson) gives a speech that is being broadcasted on radio and television. During the speech, listeners from all over the world are seen, including a sheep herd from Normandy, France. In the background Mont-Saint-Michel is visible.

Mont-Saint-Michel, 29 July 2016
This tidal island is located in a bay. Originally it could only be reached when the tide was low, nowadays also at high tide by means of a bridge. Free busses drive tourists back and forth from the main land. It is also possible to walk the two kilometres (1.2 miles). On top of this landmark is a medieval abbey with a statue of the archangel Michael atop the spire, the island was named after him. Legend says that around 700 he appeared to Aubert, bisshop of Avranches, ordering him to build a church on the rocky island.

In the movie, Mont-Saint-Michel is seen for only three seconds. During our visit, on a cloudy and rainy day, there were no sheep. Despite the bad weather it was very crowded. Except for the monastery, the island has nothing to offer but souvenir shops and restaurants. Mass tourism has made the island look better from a distance than up close.

Armageddon, 1:04:15
Mont-Saint-Michel, 28 July 2016
Screenshot © Touchstone Pictures

10 September 2016

Bruges, Belgium

As the title of the movie indicates, IN BRUGES is set in Bruges, Belgium. The majority of the scenes were filmed in the historic centre of the Flemish city. The story involves two Irish hitmen, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell), who are sent to Bruges by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes), waiting for their next assignment.

View from the Belfry on the Rozenhoedkaai,
Bruges, 26 July 2016
Warning: the text may give away details of the plot. The movie was filmed from 2 February until 28 March 2007. Because the story is set in December, shop holders and the council of Bruges were asked to extend the display of Christmas decorations for an additional three months. The city of Bruges is not just the backdrop of the story, it is part of the story. All locations seen in the movie are within walking range, it took us a whole day to find them, although we did not visit the Jeruzalem church, the station, cafe and restaurant.

We did however make a boat tour and climbed the Belfry, just as the main characters did. The tourist office of Bruges has compiled a brochure with the most important locations.

At the beginning of the movie, Ken and Ray arrive in Bruges and walk from the Wijngaardplein towards the Wijngaardstraat. From here tourists can book a horse and carriage for a trip around the centre. In the background is a fountain, the water is coming out of the head of a horse. It is almost impossible to make a photo without a tourist, especially during the high season, although it never was too crowded.

In Bruges, 0:01:49
Wijngaardplein, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 0:01:53
Wijngaardstraat, Bruges, 26 July 2016

Hotel Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce,
Bruges, 26 July 2016
The place where Ken and Ray are staying is the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce, a four star hotel at Wollestraat 41. The exterior of the hotel is barely visible in the movie. Their room has a view on the Rozenhoedkaai, one of the places to start the boat tour. The name Rozenhoedkaai (‘Rose hat quay’) comes from the former booths where rosaries were sold.
During filming, the actors stayed at the nearby hotel De Tuilerieën at Dijver 7. In the hall of the hotel signed photos of famous guests are on display, including Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes - apparently Brendan Gleeson was not famous enough. The complete Hall of Fame of the hotel can also be viewed on their website.

In Bruges, 0:02:04
Rozenhoedkaai, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 0:02:39
Rozenhoedkaai, Bruges, 26 July 2016
Hotel De Tuilerieën, Bruges, 26 July 2016
'Hall of Fame', Hotel De Tuilerieën, Bruges, 26 July 2016

When Ken and Ray take a boat tour on the canals, they pass the Onze-Lieve- Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady). Construction of this 115 meters  (377 feet) high church started in 1230 and would last several centuries before completion. Not seen in the movie but not to be missed when visiting Bruges is the Madonna, a marble sculpture by Michelangelo that he made between 1501 and 1504. After it was finished it was bought by two wealthy cloth merchants from Bruges. They donated the sculpture in 1514 to the church. It is prominently featured in the 2014 film The Monuments Men.

In Bruges, 0:03:29
Onze-Lieve- Vrouwekerk, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 0:03:33
Onze-Lieve- Vrouwekerk, Bruges, 26 July 2016
Michelangelo's Madonna , Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk,
Bruges, 26 July 2016

At Markt (Market square), Ken decides to climb the Belfry. This medieval bell tower is a 83 meter (272 feet) high building that was constructed over several periods of time, starting in 1240. In 1280, 1493 and 1741 the tower was destroyed by fire, the top of the current tower dates from 1822. It takes 366 steps to walk the sometimes very narrow staircase to the top, therefore all scenes within the Belfry were filmed in the studio. Not more than 52 people at the same time are allowed inside to tower. We had to wait for a while but the view was very much worth it. Ray on the other hand does not want to go up and sits on a bench that seems to have been put on the square especially for the movie.

In Bruges, 0:04:42
Belfry, Bruges, 25 July 2016
In Bruges, 0:04:56
Belfry, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 0:07:01
Markt, Bruges, 25 July 2016

Groeningemuseum, Bruges, 26 July 2016
Next stop for the two hitmen is the Groeningemuseum, a small museum offering an overview of six centuries of Belgian painting, especially interesting is a collection of Flemish Primitives. The museum is situated at Dijver 12.
During our visit not all paintings that are seen in the film were exhibited, amongst others The Last Judgement by Jheronimus Bosch (the only painting that Ray appreciates) and The Miser and Death were not on display.

In Bruges, 0:25:30
Groeningemuseum, Bruges, 26 July 2016
Judgment of Cambyses (1498) - Gerard David
In Bruges, 0:25:53
Groeningemuseum, Bruges, 26 July 2016
Mars, surrounded by the Arts and Sciences,
conquers Ignorance
(1605) - Antonius Claeissens
In Bruges, 0:25:30
Groeningemuseum, Bruges, 26 July 2016
The Calling of James and John (ca. 1525)
Anonymous master (right)
In Bruges, 0:26:03
Groeningemuseum, Bruges, 26 July 2016
The Legend of Saint Ursula (ca. 1475-1482)
Master of the Legend of Saint Ursula  (right)

Jan van Eyck is represented with three paintings at the Groeningemuseum. He lived and worked in Bruges and a square was named in his honour. After their visit to the museum Ken and Ray talk about their unusual job, sitting on a bench near the statue of Van Eyck. They are looking at the Spinolarei (right) and the Spiegelrei (left). In the background the house at Sint Annarei 22 is visible, where Audrey Hepburn’s character lived at the beginning of the film The Nun’s Story. The building with the tower is the Poortersloge, originally built in the 15th century. It has been rebuilt several times and has had several destinations, during our visit it was empty.

In Bruges, 0:27:36
Jan van Eyckplein, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 0:27:41
Spiegelrei and Spinolarei, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 0:27:44
Poortersloge and Jan van Eyck statue, Bruges, 26 July 2016

The following day Ken walks alone on the Spinolarei and stops at the house on the corner with the Verversdijk. He knocks on the door at number 17 to collect a gun. In real life the front door, like the house repainted with different colours, has no number. Not seen in the movie is that above the door it says “Dit huis is den blauwen arent’ ghenaemt” (‘This house is named the blue eagle’). Because the door is at the corner the precise address is hard to tell, it is definitely not Raamstraat 17 as is mentioned in the film.

In Bruges, 0:54:50
Spinolarei, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 0:55:26
Spinolarei, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 0:55:26
Corner Spinolarei and Verversdijk, Bruges, 25 July 2016
Corner Spinolarei and Verversdijk, Bruges, 25 July 2016

Ray has walked to the Koningin Astridpark. It was named in memory of Queen Astrid of Belgium, grandmother of the current King Filip, who died tragically in a car accident in 1935 at age 29. The park has a pond with a fountain and a music pavilion. Since our visit was in summer, it was much greener. After Ken has found Ray, they talk sitting on the playground, but the climbing frame they are sitting on has disappeared.

In Bruges, 0:58:07
Koningin Astridpark, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 0:58:40
Koningin Astridpark, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 1:01:08
Koningin Astridpark, Bruges, 26 July 2016

In the meantime Harry has arrived in Bruges. He walks on the Minnewaterbrug (‘Lake of love bridge’). The building is the Poer tower, built in 1401 as part of the city’s fortification. The tower was used to store gunpowder. In the evening he walks on the Groenerei. The white octagonal building is a tea room. In the background the Belfy is visible, Ken and Harry meet at a bar near the bell tower.

In Bruges, 1:09:46
Minnewaterbrug, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 1:12:31
Groenerei, Bruges, 26 July 2016
In Bruges, 1:13;18
Markt, Bruges, 26 July 2016

The film ends with Harry chasing Ray, who runs from Brug, a square, into the Blinde Ezelstraat (‘Blind donkey street’). On the left is the entrance of the Oude Civiele Griffie (‘Old Civil Registry’). Harry follows Ray on the Vismarkt (‘Fish market’), a partly indoor arcade erected in 1821 where fresh seafish is being sold daily except on Sunday and holidays.

In Bruges, 1:31:22
Blind Ezelstraat, Bruges, 25 July 2016
In Bruges, 1:31:53
Vismarkt, Bruges, 26 July 2016

Ray hides in the hotel but is quickly found by Harry. Ray jumps out of the window onto a passing boat. He is being shot by Harry who exits the hotel and walks from the Wollestraat to the Rozenhoedkaai. On the bridge is a statue of Saint John of Nepomuk, patron of bridges.

In Bruges, 1:36:42
Johannes Nepomucenusbrug, Bruges, 26 July 2016

Ray, heavily wounded, stumbles upon the square of the Gruuthusemuseum where a movie is being filmed. During our visit the square unfortunately was closed due to restoration of the museum. Despite the barriers, we managed take a photo of the roof of the museum as seen in the film at the moment when Harry realizes what he has done.

In Bruges, 1:39:23
Gruuthusemuseum, Bruges, 26 July 2016
Screenshots © Focus Features