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London filming locations in Darkest Hour

Date posted: 11.01.2018

Never, never, never surrender. New World War II drama Darkest Hour hits UK screens this week with an impressive set of iconic London settings on view. Directed by Joe Wright of Atonement and Hanna fame, the wartime blockbuster features a Golden Globe-winning powerhouse performance from Gary Oldman, who is unrecognisable as Winston Churchill in the early days of his tenure as Prime Minister.

To chronicle Churchill's intimate life during this fraught time, the production used a number of high-profile London locations, including 10 Downing Street, Houses of Parliament and Somerset House, as well as building sets at Ealing and Leavesden studios.

Royally inventive

For a scene where Churchill makes a royal visit, Somerset House was used to double as the entrance of Buckingham Palace, with green screen and motion tracking used to make The Mall appear as the Palace's Fountain Court. In a befittingly heroic feat of organisation, the crew had to set up, shoot and wrap the whole scene before 9am at these sought after locations.

Shooting the real thing

Darkest Hour was one of a rare few fiction feature films to be granted shooting permission outside 10 Downing Street, an iconic location which has had to be fabricated in-studio by past productions. Equally impressive, the team managed to shoot scenes in The Treasury, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and House of Commons, where the events would actually have taken place in the film's timeline.

Best kept secret

Those inspired by the film can visit the Churchill War Rooms in Westminster, the preserved underground headquarters from which the British prime minister directed the war. This expansive bunker was Britain's best kept secret during WWII, and was meticulously recreated at Ealing Studios for Wright's production.

Darkest Hour has beennominated for nine EE BAFTA Awards, including Best Film, Outstanding British Film and Production Design, testament to its brilliant and versatile use of London locations. It is released in UK cinemas on Friday 12 January.

Watch the trailer for Darkest Hour

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