22 August 2020

Hamburg, Germany

The movie BACKBEAT focuses on the early years of The Beatles, especially their stay in Hamburg, Germany. The group then consisted of five members: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe.

Indra club, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
Allan Williams, owner of Jacaranda club in Liverpool where The Beatles played regularly, arranged a number of performances for the group in Hamburg. Via the Netherlands the group travelled in a van to Hamburg where they arrived on 17 August 1960. That same evening The Beatles played the Indra club at Große Freiheit 64, a side street of the infamous Reeperbahn. The club still exists but is not shown in the movie.

To the right of the entrance is a sign that memorates the first performance of The Beatles in Hamburg. In October 1960 they started playing in another club, Kaiserkeller, because Indra was closed after complaints about the noise. At the Kaiserkeller the group would meet Ringo Starr who was the drummer of The Hurricanes at that time.

Filming began on 16 April in Liverpool and ended on 11 June 1993 in Hamburg. In the film The Beatles arrive in Hamburg at night, in reality it was during daytime. Hamburg is introduced by the neon lighting of the Reeperbahn area. Café Zum Silbersack can also be seen in the film A Most Wanted Man.

Backbeat, 0:12:06
Corner Reeperbahn and Davidstraße, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
Backbeat, 0:12:10
Silbersackstraße 9, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
Backbeat, 0:12:40
Große Freiheit 24-28, Hamburg, 27 June 2019

The first performance in the film is in the Kaiserkeller. This club still exists, the address is Große Freiheit 36. Above the entrance there are now the names of artists who once performed here. Later in the film the Kaiserkeller can be seen again when Stuart Sutcliffe (Stephen Dorff) walks out. During the day, the street Große Freiheit makes a rundown impression.

Backbeat, 0:24:33
Große Freiheit 36, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
Backbeat, 0:38:35
Große Freiheit 36, Hamburg, 27 June 2019

In Hamburg Stuart Sutcliffe would meet photographer Astrid Kirchherr (1938-2020) with whom he had a relationship. He left the group in July 1961 to study at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (University of Fine Arts). On 10 April 1962 he died of a cerebral haemorrhage.

Astrid Kirchherr (Sheryl Lee) photographed The Beatles several times. In the film she portrays them at the Neuerwegsbrücke in the Speicherstadt district. The first picture shows, from left to right, Pete Best (Scot Williams), John Lennon (Ian Hart, just before he drops his pants), Paul McCartney (Gary Bakewell), Stuart Sutcliffe and George Harrison (Chris O'Neill).

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Neuerwegsbrücke, Hamburg, 26 June 2019
Backbeat, 0:31:28
Neuerwegsbrücke, Hamburg, 26 June 2019
Backbeat, 0:31:40
Neuerwegsbrücke, Hamburg, 26 June 2019

The second location of the photo shoot is St. Annenufer 3. It is only 100 meters (109 yards) from the Neuerwegsbrücke.

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St. Annenufer 3, Hamburg, 26 juni 2019

Stuart and Astrid spend the day in the port of Hamburg. This scene was shot at Dock 11 near the Altona Fischmarkt.

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Dock 11, Hamburg, 26 June 2019

Entrance of Jäger-Passage, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
Within walking distance of Große Freiheit is the Wohlwillstraße. At number 22 is the entrance to the Jäger-Passage. In the spring of 1961 Jürgen Vollmer, a photography student, had taken several pictures of The Beatles in this street. John Lennon is standing in a doorway while Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe (Pete Best was not present) are passing. By using a long shutter speed only Lennon is recognizable. He would use the photo as a cover for his album 'Rock 'n' Roll' from 1975. On the album are covers of songs from the 50s and 60s, he thought the photo would make good match.

When we arrived at the Jäger-Passage it was closed with a clear 'keep out' on the door. A friendly resident just came out and gave us permission to go inside and photograph the building. That was quite difficult because the narrow passage was full of cars. Apparently the residents of the building are not happy with visitors imitating the pose of John Lennon , while leaning against the doorpost they often press all doorbells. On Google Maps it is not possible to search for Jäger-Passage, instead look for John Lennon, Rock 'n' Roll Doorway.

The Beatles at the Jäger-Passage, 1961
Rock 'n' Roll album cover
Jäger-Passage, 27 June 2019

Since 2006, the corner of the Reeperbahn and Große Freiheit has a Beatles-Platz, a small square in the shape of a vinyl record. There are metal statues in the form of silhouettes representing The Beatles, with the statue of Stuart Sutcliffe standing a little further away from the others.

Beatles-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
Beatles-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019

Thanks to ReelStreets for providing several addresses.

Screenshots © PolyGram Filmed Entertainment/Scala Productions/Channel Four Films
Photo album cover © Jürgen Vollmer

7 August 2020

Mangawhero Falls, New Zealand

A short scene of THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, the second film in the trilogy, was filmed in Tongariro National Park. This nature reserve is located on the North Island and is best known for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This hike through a volcanic landscape is over 19 kilometers (11.8 miles) long, if you are in good shape highly recommended.

Mangawhero Falls, Tongariro National Park, 4 January 2020
Mangawhero Falls, a 28 meter (92 feet) high waterfall, can be seen in the movie when Gollum (Andy Serkis) tries to catch a fish. He is on his way to Mordor together with Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin). On the day this scene was to be filmed, in the autumn of 2000, it turned out to have snowed and frozen unexpectedly. The local fire brigade was asked to spray the snow away as much as possible. Large heat lamps and ventilators were also used to melt the snow and defrost the river that leads to the waterfall.

The documentary Cameras in Middle-Earth shows Andy Serkis crawling through the icy water in a wetsuit. In post production, his movements formed the basis for Gollum's digital creation and the fish he was trying to catch was added.

Cameras in Middle-Earth, 00:49:13
In the same documentary, the actors are shown standing in front of a blue screen. The background would also be digitally altered. In the film, only Mangawhero River can be seen. This location is easy to reach by car. From the parking lot it is only a short walk to the spot where the film was shot. If you walk about 200 meters (650 feet) further you also have a view of the waterfall and that is as far as you can go. During our visit, in the summer, less water flowed through Mangawhero River.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 1:37:02
Mangawhero Falls, Tongariro National Park, 4 January 2020
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 1:37:10
Mangawhero Falls, Tongariro National Park, 4 January 2020

The documentary also shows how Andy Serkis, in his enthusiasm, came close to the edge of the waterfall. To prevent him from falling down, director Peter Jackson had asked a few people to stop him if necessary. The mountains in the background were digitally added for this shot as well.

Cameras in Middle-Earth, 00:49:46
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 1:37:43
Mangawhero Falls, Tongariro National Park, 4 January 2020

The extended edition on dvd was used for the screenshots.

Screenshots © New Line Cinema/Wingnut Films